Herbert Thelen has proposed a principle the for members of groups to have maximum motiviation to perform, the number of members in each should be the smallest "in which it is possible to have represented at a functional level all the social and achievement skills required for the particular required activity."
Pairing off is very common for several reasons. It is simpler to relate to one other person than to several at once. We are comfortable in dealing with someone who is similar to ourselves, and any two persons can usually find common traits or experiences to serve as "hook up points" between them. On the other hand, we are also fascinated by people who are different from us. Novelty, of course, wears off.
Differences can be the basis for long-term alliances when they are complementary. He can fix the lawn mower and she is a good cook; Gilbert writes the book and Sullivan composes the music. Topping all is that "game that two are playing," sexual mating, with its huge effect on human affairs.
Where polygamy is practiced, a husband taking a second wife will often provide her with separate quarters so as to have two pair relationships instead of a contentious household of three adults.
In history, three leaders have sometimes attempted to share political power in a triumvirate, with little long-term success.
On the other hand, groups of three can be very stable if there is a leader and two followers, such as a family of a single parent and two children. Sometimes a subordinate will be related to two power-figures, e.g., an only child with two parents.
In decision-making groups the tendency to split two against two can lead to frustrating stalemates. Differences can be resolved more easily if the group starts out with three or five rather than four members.
On the other hand, a group of four can be stable if it depends upon unique contributions from each of its members. In a musical quartet each participant’s part is different and essential. The more experience the musicians have in playing together the better they can perform. Some such groups stay together for decades.
Stability can also result when there is one leader and three subordinates. A similar but short-lived pattern occurs at cocktail parties: studies of social gatherings find frequent clusters of one person talking and three listening.
Our species has depended largely on subsistence provided by collaboration among members of the immediate family: a woman who bears, nurses, and looks after children (with aid and advice of her mother), and does chores consistent with those responsibilities; a man, who is free to range farther from the home base for food and materials and can do things that require extra strength or concentration; and the children providing whatever assistance is required of them as they grow more capable.
Deliberative bodies, such as legislatures, commissions, and advisory boards, discuss and vote on proposals. The work of researching and drafting the proposals is done sometimes by individuals but often by the collaboration of a small sub-group.
Military operations are carried out by directing the efforts of a number of small, highly-coordinated units that do the actual fighting, for example infantry units, gun crews, or bomber crews.
In many sports a team consists of five or six players. Baseball manages with the large number of nine because any given play involves only a few of teammates. American football requires coordinating a team of eleven players. The team huddles before an offensive play to let the players know what they need to do so that the ball-handler doesn't have to keep track of each of them.
Much economic activity (farming, mining, production, sales, etc.) is carried out by small groups, each of whose members work together under the supervision of a first-line manager. (See team.)
All these groups benefit from having members who are diverse in their information sources, talents and experience. This kind of group is usually bigger than a production team. The more complex the issues the more different viewpoints will be needed. At the same time practical considerations dictate how large the group can be. Once you have a couple of dozen members, adding another is not likely to add much to the information available from the others. At about that size there is no longer enough time at meetings to hear from everyone, and participants can't be seated so that they can easily see and listen to each other.
Intimate communities seldom have more than about 150 members. Studies of social animals have shown a correlation between the typical frontal brain capacity the members of a species and the maximum size of the groups in which they live (Dunbar, 1993). The number of relationships the human brain can handle is large but not unlimited. In a small church the minister typically knows everyone, and the congregation is “one big family.” It is noit easy to grow beyond 150 members, however, because that requires (besides a bigger building) augmenting the minister with paid staff, systematically recruiting and training volunteers, and dealing with increased numbers and diversity by developing specialized groups and programs.
Educators are advocating subdividing large schools into smaller units so that staff can know all the students and there will be more feeling of belonging, support and continuity.
It has been observed that the population of a city is roughly inversely proportional to its rank in size among the urban areas of its economic region ( Zipf's law ).
About the size of it: when it comes to distributors, does size matter? Veteran retailers say there are many more factors to consider when picking a supplier.
Apr 25, 2005; Is the size of a distributor directly proportionate to its ability to satisfy customers? The old belief was that large corporate...