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Bona Fide Groups

Michael W. Kramer


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The bona fide group construct grew out of a concern over the external →  validity and generalizability of studies conducted on zero-history, laboratory groups. More than just a focus on studying naturally occurring groups, a bona fide group perspective focuses on characteristics of naturally occurring groups that do not exist in laboratory groups (→  Experiment, Laboratory ). The first conceptualization of this by Linda Putnam and Cynthia Stohl (1990) emphasized that naturally occurring (bona fide) groups have stable but permeable boundaries, are interdependent with the immediate context, and have links between the boundaries and context. So unlike artificially created groups, in bona fide groups, group membership frequently changes, the group's internal dynamics are influenced by the external environment, and its members are influenced by their simultaneous membership in other groups. For example, an ad hoc committee frequently experiences membership changes as personnel are reassigned, is interdependent with the administrator who convened the group and with other groups who provide it with resources, and is affected by the divided loyalties of its members as they balance their involvement in the ad hoc committee with other departmental and social groups. Further elaborations of the bona fide group perspective have contributed to the understanding of the complexity of groups ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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