The Functional Perspective as a Lens for Understanding Groups

Small Group Research, Vol. 35, pp. 17-43, 2004

28 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2011

See all articles by Gwen Wittenbaum

Gwen Wittenbaum

Michigan State University

Andrea B. Hollingshead

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism; University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Paul B. Paulus

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Randy Hirokawa

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Deborah G. Ancona

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Randall S. Peterson

London Business School

Karen A. Jehn

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Business School

Kay Yoon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2004

Abstract

The functional perspective is a normative approach to describing and predicting group per- formance that focuses on the functions of inputs and/or processes. The aim of theory and research from this perspective is to understand why some groups are successful and others are not. This article investigates theory and, to a lesser extent, research of small groups based on the functional perspective. The authors present the underlying theoretical assumptions and review theories that fit into the functional perspective from several representative areas of research. They conclude by outlining notable strengths and weaknesses associated with viewing groups from this perspective and propose some directions for future theory development.

Keywords: functional theory, group performance, group decision making

JEL Classification: D70

Suggested Citation

Wittenbaum, Gwen and Hollingshead, Andrea B. and Paulus, Paul B. and Hirokawa, Randy and Ancona, Deborah G. and Peterson, Randall S. and Jehn, Karen A. and Yoon, Kay, The Functional Perspective as a Lens for Understanding Groups (2004). Small Group Research, Vol. 35, pp. 17-43, 2004 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1802145

Gwen Wittenbaum

Michigan State University ( email )

Agriculture Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1122
United States

Andrea B. Hollingshead (Contact Author)

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism ( email )

3502 Watt Way
Suite 101A
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States
2138214081 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://annenberg.usc.edu/Faculty/Communication%20and%20Journalism/HollingsheadA.aspx

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA California 90089
United States

Paul B. Paulus

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Randy Hirokawa

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Deborah G. Ancona

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

E52-582
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
617-253-0568 (Phone)
617-253-2660 (Fax)

Randall S. Peterson

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

Karen A. Jehn

University of Melbourne - Melbourne Business School ( email )

200 Leicester Street
Carlton, Victoria 3053 3186
Australia

Kay Yoon

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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