Research on small groups is highly diverse because investigators who study such groups vary in their disciplinary identifications, theoretical interests, and methodological preferences. The goal of this volume is to capture that diversity, and thereby convey the breadth and excitement of small group research by acquainting students with work on five fundamental aspects of groups. These are: group composition (the number and type of people who belong to the group); group structure (the status systems, norms, and roles that constrain interactions among group members); group conflict (arising from competition among members for scarce resources, both tangible and intangible); group performance (cooperative efforts among members to create joint products and achieve common goals); and group ecology (the physical, social, and temporal environments in which the group operates). Although these five aspects of groups are all important, they have not received equal research attention. In an effort to reflect this relative interest, more space has been devoted to conflict and performance than to composition, structure, and ecology.
The volume also includes an introductory chapter by the editors which provides an overview of the history of and current state-of-the-art in the field. Together with introductions to each section, discussion questions and suggestions for further reading, make the volume an ideal text for senior undergraduate and graduate courses on group dynamics.