What is a Group Structure?

Learn about Group Structures with the Breakfast Club!

Case breakdown: Movie The Breakfast Club:

Watch this scene from a movie called ‘The Breakfast Club’. A group of 5 students (namely: Brian, Andrew, Allison, Clair, John) who are in detention, coming from diverse backgrounds are discussing about their problems,we can learn about group structures from this scene.

Work groups have a structure, they have a structure that shapes the behavior of members and makes it possible to explain and predict a large portion of individual behavior within the group as well as the performance of the group itself.


Individuals play different roles in this lifetime. A man can play diverse roles in his life both in a job and off-job. Understanding behavior of a person is linked to understanding their current role that they are playing in their lives. A woman can be a mother, daughter, sister, lover, daughter-in-law, wife, friend etc. Her behavior changes with the group she is in, if she’s a religious person then her behavior is different in a prayer group and her behavior differs when she’s out with her friends the same day.

Role Identity:

There are certain attitudes and actual behaviors consistent with a role  and they create role identity. People have ability to shift roles rapidly when situation demands and its demands clearly require major changes. So when Brian asks Claire, what would happen on Monday? would they still be friends, she replies by saying that no she won’t as she will maintain her group identity and most likely ignore her new friends as her new found friends (breakfast club) aren’t anything like her group at school.

Role Perception:

Our view of how we are supposed to act in a given situation.  It is based on an interpretation of how we believe we are supposed to behave.  These perceptions come from TV, social media, radio, friends etc. We find random videos going viral every other day, many people tend perceive things by influence of such videos. Similar to what Claire thought she should act like when she is with different set of friends.

Role Expectations:

This is how others believe you should act. How one behaves is determined to a large extent by the role defined in the context in which you are acting. Another way to understand this would be: A judge in a courtroom is seen as dignified and calm under pressure whereas a T20 cricket team coach is seen as aggressive, dynamic and inspiring. Clair’s friends think she should agree with them, and Clair feels pressurized to conform to their ideas. Brian is hurt by her direct views on this.

In the workplace, it is important to understand role expectations. There is an unwritten understanding that exists between an employer and employees. What management expects from employees and how employees ought to act.

Role Conflict:

When an individual is confronted by divergent role expectations, the result is role conflict.  It usually comes up when an individual finds that compliance with one role requirement would make it more difficult to comply with other role requirement.Similar to how we see, Claire clarifies that she will not be able to be friends with Brian in front of her old set of friends. She is facing a role conflict.

Employees face this quite often, when they have a conflict between career and home role expectations.

Written by: Ms. Gitika Chandra

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