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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The use of small groups for identifying problems in a formal organization Hyde, William Paul


This study was addressed to two problems. The first was to gather and analyze information intended to identify conditions regarded as problematic and conditions regarded as favorable by members of a formal organization, the Mormon Church. The means employed for gathering the basic information consisted of a set of operations designed to guide small groups in the process of joint problem-identification and produced as an outcome statements indicating preferred and non-preferred conditions. The second problem was to ascertain if this set operations presumably tending toward a more democratic orientation, would be an appropriate method of gathering information, given the theocratic nature of the organization in which they were employed. The information was obtained during the academic year 1972-73 and utilized a dense sample through three levels of personnel associated with a particular program of the organization. The participants were students, full-time professionals, and ecclesiastical leaders directly involved in the part-time institutes of religion. Collectively these groups generated 756 statements. The statements were then thematically classified and rank ordered to identify conditions most frequently cited as problematic and preferred. Once identified, these conditions were analyzed for possible interrelationships. This was followed by an analysis concerning the dependability of the basic information. A report was prepared for the senior administrator within the organization and, subsequently, information was sought concerning his views of the usefulness of that report. The total data gathering procedure was also critically evaluated. It was concluded that despite the basic differences in the authority orientations of the organization and the procedures used to obtain the information, (1) the operations appeared to produce information that was reasonably dependable and administratively useful (with certain limitations), (2) the conditions regarded as problematic reflected a considerable degree of interrelatedness, and (3) there seemed to be no evidence that the operations were an inimical or inappropriate method for gathering information, given the conditions under whey they were employed. Several procedural changes are also recommended.

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