The field of small group communication has recently witnessed a shift toward the study of groups in naturalistic settings (see Frey, 1994a). Several authors have commented approvingly on this move, including Putnam and Stohl (1990), who admonish researchers to look to bona fide groups, those characterized by "stable yet permeable boundaries" and "interdependence with context," as they leave the laboratory and enter field settings. This essay seeks to specify in detail what the operationalization of the concept of a bona fide group might involve; applies those operational concepts to surgical teams; and discusses theoretical, methodological, and research implications of this effort. We observe that operationalizing "stable yet permeable boundaries" and "interdependence with context" requires conceptual steps not fully articulated in the original description of bona fide groups. Building on the arguments that Putnam and Stohl have set forth, we argue that further study of "bona fide" groups will usefully include: 1) attention to group process in context; 2) connectivity using network analytic constructs; 3) membership pools as sources of group membership; and 4) the institutional environments of groups as a critical component of "context." In turn, we treat the implications of this argument for researchers and practitioners.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Language and Linguistics