Ecological Factors in the Study of a Small Task Group


Don E. Posten

Date of Graduation

Spring 1975


Master of Arts



Committee Chair

J Micheals


In recent years there have been an abundance of small group studies, however there is a great need for the development of a hierarchy of objectives. Attention must be gtiven to what is most important. The present study first surveyed the relevant literature depicting those attempts to bring the small group into focus. As a result of these preliminary investigations, the small group was considered an enacted ecological environment. An attempt was made to formulate an analytical structure for investigating the small task group in terms of its ecology--the pattern and structure of interrelationships. Utilizing four of the White House Tape Transcripts as resource, the Nixon Group--Haldeman, Dean, Ehrlichman and Nixon--was chosen as the group for analysis. A categorical system was developed to provide information from each interaction as to the nature of the content and as to its comment upon the relationship of the participants. Each of the four selected transcripts was divided into dyads based on Weick's act, interact, and double interact. Each dyad was grouped throughout the transcript and the categorical system was applied. Conclusions were largely pointed toward determining whether the group's ecology could be seen as a contributing factor in its outcome--the selective exposure of Watergate information. A number of concerns did appear to precipitate the selective exposure of information. The investigation concluded that the study of ecological factors can be an important key to understanding the group and for bringing small group studies into focus.

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© Don E Posten


Open Access