When regarding the history of role theory, one becomes aware of the fact that, although much knowledge is available specifically pertaining to roles in small group settings (e.g. expectations about behaviour, types of roles, flexibility of locus, appropriateness of the role system, dynamic nature of role formation and development as well as typologies dividing roles into categories), not much literature is available specifically pertaining to what the impact of an individual’s self-concept is on his/her propensity to either assume or avoid certain roles in such a setting. Accordingly, this study aimed to explore the above-mentioned aspect of role division in small groups. Research was done by means of a case study research design, with a constructivist/interpretevist meta-theoretical paradigm as research approach. This paradigm holds that there are multiple subjective realities involved when studying human interactions and the consequences thereof. The study was furthermore conducted from a psychodynamic and systems theory perspective. Data was collected from a sample of postgraduate students, who participated in a training group as part of their Industrial and Organisational Psychology master’s degree programme at the University of Pretoria, by means of three different methods, namely video and voice recordings, a document study, as well as semi-structured interviews. Data was furthermore analysed by Atlas.ti, a qualitative data analysis programme, according to the principles of constructivist grounded theory. When regarding current literature on the subject, it is implied by some that an individual will only allow roles to be imposed on him/her if he/she is predisposed to assuming such roles, and if he/she can accordingly integrate the responsibility somehow with his/her self-concept. Accordingly, the results obtained showed some connection between an individual’s self-concept and the role(s) that was assumed by the individual in the small group setting. More specifically, the results showed that an individual is more likely to change roles with ease should the alternate role requirements also be in line with elements of the individual’s self-concept. The results further indicated that it might be difficult for an individual to adapt and change to another role should the roles, which are required in the small group setting, be in conflict with the individual’s self-concept. These findings thus imply that an individual’s self-concept might have an impact on an individual’s propensity to either assume or avoid certain roles (role valency) in a small group setting.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2012.