Basic Group Needs, Conflicts and Dynamics

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Basic Group Needs, Conflicts and Dynamics
Many have presented persuasive arguments and examples highlighting the value of Individual Psychology in solving workplace and organizational problems. In this paper, the aim is to increase understanding of conflict and other self-defeating and destructive behaviors regularly encountered by groups. A range of diverse theories and models of conflict, basic human needs, and dynamics are juxtaposed with Adlerian theory of human behavior. Developmental and social psychological, sociological, group dynamics and management theories and models are explored and integrated. The principles extracted suggest ways of encouraging cooperation within groups in general as well as in the workplace  

Basic Group Needs, Conflicts and Dynamics
Ferguson (1999) recently stressed the value of applying the principles and methods of Individual Psychology in solving workplace and organizational problems. She (1995) has also argued that Individual Psychology’s three fundamental principles – holism, purposiveness of behavior, and the desire to belong and contribute to the welfare of the community – are as important in understanding the dynamics of organizations as in understanding individual motivation and behavior. Barker and Barker (1996) reported a case study in which Adlerian and organizational principles were integrated and applied in managing change within a health care setting. They concluded that practitioners of Individual Psychology can be particularly effective in helping organizations to negotiate change because of their understanding and application of the principles of encouragement, cooperation, equality, mutual respect, and social interest. Similarly, Ferguson (1999) noted that underlying effective human relationships in any group context are social interest and social equality. She gave examples of how failure to establish mutual respect or failure to believe in the equal value of individuals leads to open or covert tension within or between groups. Dreikurs (1971/1994) summarized the Adlerian emphasis on social equality and concluded that humans cannot live at peace with themselves or with others unless they feel equal in dignity and worth to every other person. Douglas (1986) observed that within a sociopolitical structure based on individualistic ideals, those in positions of power and influence often contend that humans are innately self-serving, competitive, and prone to conflict. This contention comes despite far more frequent examples of human altruism and cooperation than of human selfishness and conflict (Douglas). Dreikurs (1971/1994) acknowledged that entrenched patterns of thinking and feeling often block recognition that, in reality, humans no longer need to feel inferior nor to struggle with nature or each other for survival. However, most people can recall a painful group experience in which they felt there were negative forces – beyond their control – that seemed to threaten their feelings of wellbeing. Many people may remain mystified by the destructive power that accompanies unhealthy and undirected intragroup and intergroup interactions. Rather than acknowledge that others share a positive need to belong and contribute, the individual may project his or her fears and negative striving for superiority onto others and conclude that human nature is, after all, dark and unfathomable. At the same time, regardless of their occupations, most people must live and work cooperatively with others. According to Adler, the division of labor and working for one’s own and others’ survival and advancement – and ideally, for the survival and advancement of the human race as a whole – are central to feelings of genuine self-esteem (as cited in Ansbacher & Ansbacher, 1956/1964). Yet in the late 20th century Euro-American industrial society, the market economy, mass consumerism, and the alienation of many from the objects of their labor interfere with this basic means of...
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