Interactional analysis - (Management Notes) Watch

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Interactional analysis is a concept that seeks to provide ways of describing a group according to its functions and the factors that influence them. Bales has divided these into 12 sub-groups which differentiate between ‘task’ and ‘socio-emotional’ functions.
  • Task functions are directed towards completing tasks and solving problems. Examples of this behaviour include directing members, evaluating work and requesting information or guidance. The aims of these activities are concerned with production and exchanging information.
  • In contrast to this are maintenance functions. These activities deal with the emotional well-being of the group and are aimed at maintaining the group as an efficient body. Maintenance functions can be viewed in the form of joking and laughing which show satisfaction and in overall assist in relieving tension. On the contrary actions such as degrading the status of another member shows antagonism and helps to maintain direction.
Whilst it may be viewed that task and maintenance functions are diametrically opposed, it is important to note that whatever the relationship or structure of the group, task and maintenance are the two processes that must be undertaken in order to maintain effective running of the group. In addition to this the right combination of both is vital to strengthening bonds and is ultimately the duty of the team leader but is also carried out by team members.

Adding on to this theory are those member roles developed by Benne and Sheats. They assumed member roles are divided into 3 categories: group task roles, group maintenance roles and individual roles.
  • Group task and group maintenance roles are similar to the 2 functions described above in the sense that they assume group task roles are set to solve common problems and group maintenance roles are to maintain group orientated behaviour.
  • Individual roles are different as they are based on self-orientated behaviour such as personal satisfaction and do not relate to group task and group maintenance roles. An example of an individual displaying this behaviour would be a dominator or a provoker.
Sources used: Mullins, L. (2007). Management and organisational behaviour. Harlow, England: Prentice Hall/Financial Times.

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