Decision development in small groups, III: A multiple sequence model of group decision development

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This paper argues that traditional models of group decision making as a series of discrete, consecutive phases are inadequate. It advocates replacing them by a more complex and accurate model of continuously-developing threads of group activity. In section I the phasic model is evaluated in view of recent research on decision development in small groups. To overcome several problems with the phasic model section II develops a new model, which conceptualizes decision development as a set of continuously evolving tracks of activity, intertwining over time. Based on previous research, this model advances a new descriptive system, which specifies (a) three tracks of group activity, (b) several types of “breakpoints” which mark changes in the development of the strands, and (c) a structural model of task accomplishment. The interrelations among the three descriptive components give a more complex and accurate picture of decision development than the phasic model. In section III, two explanatory factors which determine the evolution of multiple sequences are explicated. They are used to generate a series of propositions about multiple sequences in decision development. These propositions form the framework of a contingency theory of decision development in small groups.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)321-341
Number of pages21
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1983


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics

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