The Emerald Handbook of Group and Team Communication Research

Cover of The Emerald Handbook of Group and Team Communication Research
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(38 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xxii
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Abstract

This volume is an in-depth analysis of group communication research. By considering processual, structural, methodological, and theoretical aspects of group communication, this handbook establishes the current state of group communication scholarship. Establishing this premise is important, as the handbook concludes with a look toward our future. In doing this, the handbook not only synthesizes and critiques the current state of the field but also creates a road map for future group communication research.

Fundamentals of Group Communication

Abstract

Group communication as an area of intellectual interest had its beginnings in communication pedagogy with the goal of helping students to become more effective decision makers. A by-product is that group decision making became and remained a central research focus for many years. In the last 20 years, group communication research has facilitated the development of theory, research methods, and technology. Since 2000, group communication scholars have developed research lines on (1) virtual/digital team communication; (2) information sharing, hidden profile, and transactive memory systems; and (3) group participation. This chapter also explores the way in which group communication scholars have become connected with other disciplines that study groups and teams. The chapter concludes with current research methods trends, including interaction analysis, multilevel modeling, and qualitative methods.

Abstract

This chapter provides a definition of group as used by group communication scholars or inferred by articles published by group communication scholars. The chapter considers group size, group identity, group member interdependence, group goal, and group structure as fundamental to groups. Additionally, the chapter examines the distinction between the use of the group and team labels, and the role of context in defining groups.

Abstract

The term context has been utilized in scholarship to reference a variety of phenomena and settings across the communication discipline and field of group communication. This chapter examines journal articles and book chapters to explore how the word context is used in group communication scholarship. The hope is that by considering how context is used in academic writing, scholars may find ways to better specify the influences and features of group communication studies. If not, the term context may continue to be used in reference to almost anything, which means the word may be unhelpful or prevent meaningful conversations across journal articles.

Abstract

Group communication scholarship has flourished in recent years and several insightful and valuable perspectives have been articulated. This chapter will review theories and perspectives on group communication that have emerged after 2000 (group participation, processual communication networks, communication and teamwork, leadership and communication, sequences and cycles in decision making and problem-solving processes, interventions to improve group performance). Some of these have been articulated formally as theories, while others are more loosely stated and present a point of view on group communication. Classical theories of group communication, including functional theory, symbolic convergence theory, structuration theory, and developmental theories were reviewed in Poole (1999) and are not covered here.

Group Communication Methodology

Abstract

Multilevel approaches are generally well suited to group communication because what people say and do in groups is a function of intra- and trans-individual mechanisms. This chapter first provides a brief overview of group research as a multilevel problem and then describes more modern approaches to modeling nested data using latent variable models, including multilevel structural equation modeling and latent class analysis. The chapter concludes by addressing conceptual opportunities provided by multilevel latent modeling approaches to group communication.

Abstract

This chapter summarizes many conceptual, theoretical, and methodological topics related to studying group communication using qualitative research methods. First, it explains five of the most common theoretical frameworks used by group communication scholars (i.e., symbolic convergence theory, bona fide group perspective, unobtrusive control theory, dialectical theory, and structuration theory). Next, it discusses best practices and issues related to different data collection methods including observations, historical case studies, ethnographies, focus groups, and interview studies. Then, the chapter describes two primary data analytic tools, various iterations of constant comparison method, and qualitative content analysis. Finally, the chapter describes several innovative qualitative methods that may lead to new understandings of group communication processes including discourse analysis and discourse tracing, as well as new approaches to collecting qualitative network data and mediated data. The chapter concludes with a discussion of future research suggestions.

Abstract

Research on organizational teamwork is increasingly highlighting the patterned nature of the relational processes (e.g., communication, backup behavior) and psychological states (e.g., trust, shared cognition) that underlie team effectiveness. However, studies of teams often rely on methodologies that do not explicitly assess the underlying patterns of relational processes and states. Social network approaches offer an appealing alternative to the typical methodologies used in team research given that network approaches provide both the theory and methodology necessary to conceptualize and investigate patterns of interactions among group members. Despite the advantages of social network approaches, many team researchers are unfamiliar with the network paradigm and its associated methodologies. The purpose of this chapter is to clarify how networks can be leveraged to answer key research questions related to the study of team functioning and effectiveness. We begin by discussing the evolution and eventual convergence of team research and network approaches. Then, we examine the current state of the literature at the intersection of teams and networks in order to identify key takeaways and remaining questions. We conclude by highlighting opportunities for the future of team network science.

Abstract

This chapter conceptualizes computational methods across three related, yet distinct approaches: (1) Social Simulation, (2) Data Science, and (3) Big Data. Group communication research is then situated and reviewed along these three lines of research. Although some areas have considerable visibility (e.g., network analysis, text mining), some areas are less visible in group communication research (e.g., Social Simulation, Big Data designs). The chapter concludes with suggestions for issues regarding reliability, validity, and ethics.

Abstract

In order to deepen understanding of team processes in dynamic organizational contexts, we suggest that analyses employing techniques to identify and analyze team member interaction patterns and trajectories are necessary. After presenting a brief review of interaction data coding and reliability requirements, we first review examples of two approaches used in the identification and analysis of interaction patterns in teams: lag sequential analysis and T-pattern analysis. We then describe and discuss three statistical techniques used to analyze team interaction trajectories: random coefficient modeling, latent growth modeling, and discontinuous growth analysis. We close by suggesting several ways in which these techniques could be applied to data analysis in order to expand our knowledge of team interaction, processes, and outcomes in complex and dynamic settings.

Group Communication Processes

Abstract

Groups have the ability to create something new and novel that does not exist at the individual level. This chapter examines group communication as the driver of this creation process, using the input–process–output model. Group processes are often understudied and consigned to a “black box” between inputs and outputs. How advances in methodology and analysis software have increased the ability to study group communication processes and emergent states within this black box is highlighted. Four different areas of research are then briefly reviewed to showcase ways to focus on process. These four areas include structuration, shared mental models, transactive memory, and collective intelligence. The chapter concludes with a focus on future trends and a call for more interdisciplinary research with a theoretical focus.

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of scholarship on leadership processes in groups. It investigates leadership both as a role and as influence, and considers structural influences on group leadership communication. A short chronological overview on the most important leadership theories gives a special emphasis on the meaning and role of communication within these approaches. The chapter shares the common basis of the handbook in communication as a fundamental and critical process in groups and teams. Approaches where communication plays a central role is amplified. The last paragraph focuses on three newer strands of leadership research as well as management practices. In each of these new contexts, leadership as a functional role and as social influence is discussed and the criticality of interaction and communication traced.

Abstract

Among the many influences on group decision making efficacy that have been identified by group researchers, the process that a group follows in arriving at a decision is widely regarded as one of the most important. This chapter reviews the research on group decision making processes for the purpose of explicating (a) the nature of group process, (b) the factors that influence group process, (c) the role that communication plays in group process, and (d) the influence of group process on decision making efficacy. The chapter concludes with suggestions for future research.

Abstract

This chapter focuses on techniques and technologies to aid groups in making decisions, with an emphasis on computer-based support. Many office workers regularly meet colleagues and clients in virtual meetings using videoconferencing platforms, which enable participants to carry out tasks in a manner similar to a face-to-face meeting. The development of computer-based platforms to facilitate group tasks can be traced back to the 1960s, and while they support group communication, they do not directly support group decision making. In this chapter we distinguish four technologies developed to provide support to group decisions, clustered into two main traditions. Technologies in the task-oriented tradition are mainly concerned with enabling participants to complete tasks to solve the group's decision problem via computer-supported communications. Group Decision Support Systems and social software technologies comprise the task-oriented tradition. Alternately, in the model-driven tradition, participants use computers to build and use a model that acts as a referent to communicate, mostly verbally, about the group's decision problem. System modeling and decision-modeling technologies constitute the model-driven tradition. This chapter sketches the history and guiding ideas of both traditions, and describes their associated technologies. The chapter concludes with questioning if increased availability of online tools will lead to increased use of group decision support technologies, and the differential impact of communication support versus decision support.

Abstract

Work groups and teams are common across all types of organizations. After providing both practical and scholarly definitions, this chapter examines work team processes common across groups (groupthink and bullying) that largely constrain group work both in and out of meetings. The chapter concludes with attention to work team evaluations (satisfaction with group process and continuity), meeting evaluations, and an overview of relational byproducts of task accomplishment.

Abstract

This chapter reviews research on group conflict from three perspectives. First, a development perspective of group conflict understands conflict as a natural part of group history. This view emphasizes progress through conflict as a precondition for group growth and productivity. Second, an instrumental perspective of group conflict differentiates between functional and dysfunctional conflict. Research in this area focuses on the preconditions for functional conflict while reducing the likelihood of dysfunctional conflict. Finally, a political perspective situates conflict as tension between advantaged and disadvantaged social groups. The focus of this view is on empowering marginalized voices in groups. After examining these three perspectives, the chapter highlights how each might approach conflict in potentially nuanced contexts such as intergroup conflict, virtual teams, and third-party resolutions.

Abstract

This chapter provides an overview of the history of deliberative theory and practice, starting with an early focus on rational consensus models and moving toward contemporary treatments of deliberation in pluralistic, contentious systems consisting of multiple, overlapping, and at times adversarial stakeholder groups. It summarizes major theories related to analytic and social/relational aspects of deliberation, communication across differences, and design and facilitation processes. Finally, it reviews group communication research on deliberative processes and outcomes, notes key critiques of deliberative theory, and explores future directions for group deliberation research and practice.

Abstract

In this chapter, we examine social influence in groups by considering three distinct aspects of the complex process: the force, the source, and the message. The force instantiates the internal drivers that are activated to change group members' public and private positions. These drivers relate to a desire for accuracy (i.e., informational influence) or a desire for group harmony (i.e., normative influence). The source of social influence includes influence attempts from a majority or a minority of group members. Finally, influence messages can contain evidence in support of a position (i.e., informational statements) or group member preferences (i.e., normative statements). These aspects are frequently conflated with informational influence strongly linked to minorities and informational statements and normative influence similarly linked to majorities and normative statements. We review research consistent with this position. However, we argue that each aspect should be considered separately. Thus, we also explore how majorities and normative statements generate informational influence and how minorities and informational statements lead to normative influence.

Abstract

Relationship development is required for any group working together. As members coordinate to accomplish tasks, some level of relationship is created through interaction between group members. However, most group development models focus on task accomplishment and may briefly address relational concerns. Communication research has furthered our understanding of group relationship development based on communicative changes that demonstrate emerging relationships among members. This chapter summarizes research on relationship development in groups. First, the chapter reviews research on group relational messages and relational outcomes. Second, the chapter outlines a framework for explaining group relationship development based on group interaction and development research. Four progressive stages (investigating, initiating, integrating, and interconnecting) are presented that show the communicative changes in group relationship development. Investigating focuses on testing boundaries and getting to know members, while initiating highlights how members become more direct about individual goals and handle conflict. During integrating, members shift to a group mind and tentatively form relationships with members, whereas interconnecting is a sense of we-ness among members and the use of shared group symbols. Future research directions for relational development and the four stages are presented at the end.

Abstract

Groups typically are composed of members with different knowledge, information, and expertise. Group discussion provides the means by which members can communicate their unique knowledge to reach better group decisions, develop a shared system for remembering and retrieving knowledge, and establish their expertise through enacted performance. In this chapter, three streams of research are reviewed that explore knowledge communication in groups: Hidden profiles, transactive memory systems, and a performative view of expertise. Each of these three research streams complements and informs the other. Across these three research streams, 10 major research findings are identified. We offer three research directions that include integrating these research streams, examining knowledge communication in the context of emerging technology (e.g., artificial intelligence), and studying effects of knowledge diversity in conjunction with surface-level diversity (e.g., member race).

Abstract

The central focus of this chapter is the mutually constitutive relationship between time and group interaction. Groups shape individuals' experiences of time and individuals' experiences of time enable and constrain their group interactions. The chapter begins with a brief history of time in groups to situate early concerns which still shape many contemporary investigations, and then examines several theoretical perspectives as well as midrange frameworks and constructs which inform research on time and group communication. The chapter concludes with a summary and directions for future research in the area.

Structural Influences on Group Communication

Abstract

The characteristics of individual members and how the members are assembled in a group are critical foundations for various group processes and outcomes and often determine important staffing and hiring decisions in organizations. This chapter offers an overview of the history of group composition research across multiple disciplines and identifies three distinct approaches to studying group composition with an emphasis on the role of communication. Scholars treat group composition as a cause that leads to group outcomes, a consequence that results from social and psychological processes, or a process in response to dynamic team environments. A synthesis of previous research reveals that studying group composition as a cause has dominated the field and that the role of communication in group composition has gained little attention. The chapter concludes with a set of future research directions targeting the new digital environment, the role of communication, and research methodologies with special attention to the consequence- and process-oriented approaches.

Abstract

Group interaction networks are networks whose relations are defined by who engages with whom in communication, coordination, or other forms of joint activity. These interaction networks represent the patterns of action that unfold between members of a group and have the potential to inform research on how groups communicate, how psychological states inform, and how communication patterns can impact team performance. Interaction networks are unique in that they can be defined in terms of both structure and temporality; each interaction can be coded as an event that occurs at a specific point in time. Accordingly, interaction networks are well suited for process theories and methods. Further, the growing availability of fine-grained digital trace data makes it easier for researchers to study these networks in depth. In this chapter, theories of structure and time are reviewed in relation to group networks and interactions. A process-oriented relational event-based paradigm for studying group interaction networks is introduced as a possible alternative to prior methods. The chapter concludes with a comparison of relevant social network approaches, as well as a discussion of potential future research.

Abstract

The changing technological landscape has brought about new forms of groups and grouping that span across computing and communication devices, space, time, institutions, cultures, realities (physical, virtual, and augmented), and intelligence (natural and artificial intelligence). This chapter utilizes a series of publication and keyword analyses to identify trends in group and technology research in the fields of communication, management, and computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) between 2008 and 2019. The results reveal prominent research areas, and recent shifts and emergent questions in the study of groups and technology, highlighting a complex entanglement of technology with collaborative social practices. The chapter concludes with a discussion of novel key areas and trends suggested by the analyses, with the goal of contributing toward a research agenda for future study of groups and technology.

Abstract

The chapter provides a brief review of team diversity research from its roots in group composition and workforce demographics through recent trends toward dynamic multilevel models. The divergence from this research area's early motivations in social justice and inclusion to a primarily economic motivation is highlighted. The chapter also reviews major theories that have been used to explain diversity effects in team interactions and outcomes. The review leads to a discussion of three broad critiques of mainstream diversity research, namely a predominance of US cultural outlook, a narrow disciplinary base in organization sciences and psychology, and inadequate attention and overly simplistic perspective on communication processes. The chapter ends with implications for team diversity research and a discussion of how the suggestions can be applied to emerging dimensions of diversity.

Abstract

Multicommunicating, the practice of using technology to carry on multiple near-simultaneous conversations, has been studied for almost two decades. This practice has new meaning today as more people carry a mobile device with them, remote working is prominent, and teams are looking for ways to be more productive. This chapter establishes why multicommunicating is an important communication concept that can help scholars interested in teams. After distinguishing multicommunicating from related concepts, such as multitasking, this chapter reviews key findings from literature and highlights the conundrum around whether this is a productive, acceptable practice or one that is rude and increases inefficiency. In conclusion, the proposed research agenda invites studies of multicommunicating in contexts where actual responses to the practice can be observed. Additionally, there are growing opportunities to include mobile communication and human–technology interactions in the multicommunicating mix.

Communication in Group Contexts

Abstract

This chapter describes the ways in which tasks structure group discussion and performance in organizational settings. Work teams are defined as three or more members of the same organization who work interdependently toward a shared task or goal while supporting that organization's mission. Action teams are a specific type of work group. They are characterized by tactical tasks that require newly formed teams to perform in high-stakes situations. This chapter starts by covering historical trends in organizational culture and climate and team training. The remainder of the chapter focuses on the interrelationships among tasks, communication, and performance. Several tips for managing effective work teams, such as staying on task during meetings and responding to changing team membership, are discussed. This chapter closes by making recommendations for future research.

Abstract

Juries are a decision making peer group composed of citizens who did not volunteer for the task, who do not know one another, and who are not connected to the people and events in the trial on which they will render a verdict. This chapter illuminates the communication events during deliberations, from selecting a foreperson, deciding when and how to vote, participation and turn-taking, the emergence of conflict, and rule-breaking. Deadlock juries, storytelling jurors, and juror misconduct are described during the group's task. Sources for scholars to gain access to jury data, partner with organizations in the judicial system, and available recent recordings of jury deliberations are shared. Knowledge gaps are pointed out in understanding how group verdicts emerge from the unregulated talk of jurors, as well as new challenges for the judicial system as the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic suddenly rendered jury service an unhealthy task for citizens.

Abstract

This chapter explores communication processes within online support groups. Online support group researchers have drawn upon a variety of theories in the decades of empirical research that has been conducted within this context. The chapter focuses on motivations for using online support groups, key theoretical frameworks that have been applied to the study of online support groups, supportive messages and communication processes within these groups, and the relationship between social support and health outcomes for online support group participants. The chapter concludes with several key limitations of previous work as well as a number of areas for theory development and future research studies.

Abstract

This chapter examines group communication in medical teams through psychological safety and simulation training research. Research has shown that medical teams are challenged by established hierarchies, power/status differences, temporal stability, changing team memberships, and deeply held beliefs that emphasize individual responsibility. A review of 47 studies (29 psychological safety, 18 simulation) was conducted to understand key findings in relationship to group communication. Results indicate that team leadership promotes team psychological safety, voice, and relationship quality while status differences and hierarchy continue to affect psychological safety within medical teams. Simulation training facilitated interprofessional relationships, attitudes toward teamwork, self-efficacy, and group communication. The findings of this review suggest that psychological safety may be developed through simulation training. The quality of patient care is improved when all members of medical teams have the ability and motivation to communicate effectively.

Abstract

Understanding patterns identified in research on emergency teams (ETs) may not only enrich applied understanding of coordinated emergency response but also broader theory about communication and the adaptive potential of groups and teams more generally. This chapter establishes the theoretical significance of ETs, especially for scholarship wishing to acknowledge and account for their embeddedness in organizations and institutions. Further, it describes what has been learned from ET research with regard to the impact of stress, the management of emergent ambiguity, and the role of communication in postincident learning and continuous improvement.

Abstract

Communication aids sports teams in achieving physical feats through the process of teamwork. Working in fast-paced, high-pressure environments, sports teams are epitomized by their focus on effective physical and mental coordination, constantly adapting as a team to changing information and dynamic opponents. However, successful physical and mental coordination in sports teams are dependent on communication that may occur well before gameplay. For this reason, coaches and team leaders focus on various communicative activities throughout the life of a sports team, such as knowledge sharing, role clarity, goal setting, motivation, culture, and cohesion. Sports teams also provide unique insights into how teams communicate in single-gender groups, how heightened emotion affects team performance, and how event finality plays a role in team process.

Abstract

A contemporary view of group communication must consider hidden groups, which are those collectives that intentionally conceal key aspects of their identity at various levels (e.g., group, member, organization) from relevant audiences. This chapter reviews several general research areas and findings related to hidden groups and then briefly examines some of the theories and methodological issues relevant to hidden groups. Building on that, a multilevel framework that also considers members and broader organizational structures is offered to help distinguish various types of hidden groups.

The Trajectory of Group Communication

Abstract

The chapter defines practice approaches and considers the several ways the concept of practice has functioned in the academic and practitioner literatures. As “practice” has been a minor term in prior group studies, the next section argues that foregrounding practice in future group research is a promising direction. Not only does a practice approach privilege interactional messages, which are at the heart of communication, but foregrounding practices can help actual groups function better. A practice approach to group research can accomplish three things: (1) offer guidance about how to design and implement sensitive activities; (2) identify contextual aspects of dispersed practices such as giving information; and (3) make visible how key group norms are interactionally accomplished in nonstraightforward ways. Examples of each of these activities are illustrated.

Abstract

A proposal in favor of a meta-theoretical approach to the study of group communication is advanced, which offers novel questions on group communication scholarship: the study of the bounded rationality of groups and teams. The chapter focuses on methodological implications of the bounded rationality perspective for group communication research. The notion of bounded rationality comes with an invitation to analyze group communication from the vantage point of an adaptation process that involves the communication processes that are employed by groups along with characteristics of the environments in which groups are situated. The general concept of bounded rationality is introduced and several promises that this meta-theoretical lens offers to group communication scholarship are described. Three methodological signature characteristics are highlighted: the development and test of process models, the analysis and description of the ecological and social environments of groups, and the development of representative designs in the study of groups.

Abstract

This commentary describes (1) the role of group communication research in Communication Departments and (2) reflects my personal experiences in conducting group and team research with international and interdisciplinary group scholars. I describe the challenges associated with research funding, research space, participant pools, and research technology. Additionally, I address international and interdisciplinary influences (i.e., team science, university/government/industry collaboration) on communication research. This chapter concludes by identifying interdisciplinary contexts for group and team communication research including children and teens' groups, healthcare teams, and robot–human teams.

Index

Pages 571-576
Content available
Cover of The Emerald Handbook of Group and Team Communication Research
DOI
10.1108/9781800435001
Publication date
2021-11-05
Editors
ISBN
978-1-80043-501-8
eISBN
978-1-80043-500-1