Decision Development in Small Groups II: A Study of Multiple Sequences in Decision Making1

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Poole's recent study of group decision-making processes rejected the traditional unitary sequence model of decision development in which all decision-making groups are assumed to follow a uniform set sequence of phases. It supported a multiple sequence model, which assumed different groups may have different sequences of phases. This study attempts to build on Poole's findings by presenting a detailed analysis of multiple decision sequences in two sets of groups: student groups performing a ranking task and groups of physicians performing a program planning task. This research had three specific goals: (1) To develop and define a Multiple Sequence Descriptive System adapted to the ten groups studied and generalizable for future research;(2) To analyze developmental patterns in conflict interaction and in the evolution of ideas in the ten groups; and (3) To compare unitary sequence and multiple sequence descriptions of the same discussions, with the object of meshing the two models. Results of the study supported the workability of the Multiple Sequence Descriptive System and isolated several types of conflict and idea development patterns. Analysis of these patterns suggested revisions in Bales's hypothesis of the equilibrium problem in small groups. The study also suggested a possible reconciliation of the unitary and multiple sequence theories of decision development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)206-232
Number of pages27
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1983

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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