• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

What are groups? How do they behave? Arrow, McGrath, and Berdahl answer these questions by developing a general theory of small groups as complex systems. Basing their theory on concepts distilled from general systems theory, dynamical systems theory, and complexity and chaos theory, they explore groups as adaptive, dynamic systems that are driven by interactions among group members as well as between the group and its embedding contexts. In addition, they consider not only the group’s members and their distribution of attributes, but also the group’s tasks and technology in order to understand how those members, tasks, and tools are intertwined, coordinated, and adjusted. Throughout the book, the authors focus our attention on relationships among people, tools, and tasks that are activated by a combination of individual and collective purposes and goals that change and evolve as the group interacts over time.

Introduction
Introduction

This book presents a general theory of small groups as complex systems. Our theory addresses what groups are, how they behave, and with what consequences. We treat groups as adaptive, dynamic systems that are driven by interactions both among group members and between the group and its embedding contexts. We do not believe that groups can be adequately understood as collections of independently acting individuals. Instead, we focus our attention on relationships among people, tools, and tasks, activated by a combination of individual and collective purposes and goals that change and evolve as the group interacts over time.

The ideas in the book are both old and new. We build on our own past work (e.g., Argote & McGrath, 1993; Arrow, 1997; Arrow & McGrath, ...

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