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The life spans of groups vary widely. At one end of the longevity continuum are groups that exist for minutes, such as several strangers who cooperate briefly to help the victim of an auto accident. At the other end of the continuum are groups that exist for centuries, such as the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), a male Catholic religious order founded in the 1500s that continues to this day. Most groups fall somewhere between these two extremes, with life spans ranging from a few hours to a few years.

Groups that exist over time are not static entities. Instead they change in ways, large and small, that can profoundly affect their members' interactions and outcomes. Some of these changes, labeled group development, involve alterations in the ...

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