What are the differences between formal and informal groups?
Distinguish between formal and informal groups.
In an organisation, there may be two types of groups on the basis of structuring. These are: (i) formal groups and (ii) informal groups.
Formal Groups—Formal groups are created and maintained to fulfill needs or tasks which arc related to the total organisation mission. Thus these are consciously and deliberately created. Such groups may be either permanent in the form of top management team such as board of directors or management committees, work units in the various departments of the organisation, staff groups providing specialised services to the organisation, and so on; or the formal groups may be constituted on temporary basis for fulfilling certain specified objectives. When such objectives are fulfilled they disappear. These may be in the form of temporary committee, task force, etc. The working of formal groups is regulated by organisational rules and regulations.
Informals Group—Informal groups, on the other hand, are created in the organisation becausc of operation of social and psychological forces operating at the work-place. Members create such groups for their own satisfaction and their working is not regulated by the general framework of organisational rules and regulations. Thus formal and informal organisations differ from each other in the following respects:
1. Origin—As discussed above, reasons and circumstances of origin of both formal and informal organisations are quite different. The formal groups are created deliberately and consciously in the organisation by the framers of the organisation. On the other hand, informal groups arc created because
of the operation of socio-psychological forces at the workplace, that is, people while working together develop certain liking and disliking for others for the type of interactions not provided officially.
2. Purpose—Since formal groups are deliberate creation, they are created for achieving the legitimate objectives of the organisation. In fact, formal groups are basic product of formal ogranisation structure. The informal groups are created by organisational members for their social and psychological satisfaction. Thus they serve the purpose of organisational members which formal groups are not able to satisfy.
3. Size—Formal groups may be quite large in size. Sometimes formal groups are constituted to give representation to various interest groups in the organisation, and their size has to b ; kept large. However, in other cases, efficiency is the criterion for fixing the size of the formal groups. The informal groups tend to be small in size so as to maintain the group cohesiveness which is essential for the informal groups to be attractive for the members concerned.
4. Nature of Groups—The informal groups are stable and may continue for a long period. Their membership is specified through organisational process. There may be many standing groups in the ogranisations as discussed under committee form of organisation. Such groups continue indefinitely-only their members may change. The informal groups, on the other hand, are quite unstable in nature. Since their formation and functioning depend upon the value systems, general liking and disliking, and other personality features of the members concerned, they may disappear very quickly because of the change in the membership or they may cease to be attractive for the members and the members may form alternative groups.
5. Number of Groups—Since the whole organisation is divided into so many groups and subgroups, their number maybe many in a single organisation. In fact, the number of formal groups is decided lo serve to organisational purpose. This depends upon the organising pattern. Similarly, large number of the informal groups may also be found in the organisation. Moreover, an individual may become member of several informal groups. Therefore, there is overlapping of membership.
6. Authority—The members of formal groups derive authority through the formal source, that is through the process of delegation and redelegation. Thus authority flows from the higher lo lower levels. In the informal groups, all members are equal; however, some may command more authority by virtue of their personal qualities. Thus, authority is commanded. People give authority to those persons who are likely to meet members' needs maximum. This is the way of emergence of informal leaders in the informal groups. Such people have maximum positive interactions in the groups.
7. Behaviour of Members—The behaviour of members in the formal groups is governed by formal rules and regulations. The rules are normally directed towards rationality and efficiency. In the informal groups, the behaviour of the members is governed by norms, belief, and values of the groups. The kind of behaviour that is expected of a member is specified by these factors. If any member defies these, he is disliked by other members and for the person, the group does not remain attractive and he leaves it.
8. Communication—Communication is prescribed in the formal groups. It is normally through chain of command to which people refer as formal channel of communication. All communications in the formal groups are expected to pass through that channel. In these informal groups, the communications pass through informal channels. This informal channel may be in any form, as will be discussed in communication chapter.
9. Abolition—The formal groups can be abolished at any time. Since these are created by • organisational process, these can be abolished by organisational process also. In fact, many of the formal groups are constituted for certain specific purpose or period. When this is over this group also disappears. The informal groups are difficult to abolish by organisational process. In fact, any attempt by management to abolish the informal group may be thwarted by the members and may lead to the formation of many more groups. Since the informal groups are by products of natural desire of human beings to interact, management does not have any control over them.
Thank you for this notes. An easy way to prepare
Thnku! Dear. This notes will really helps me....

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