Group discussion is typically made up of a series of pairwise conversations. Using a corpus of workplace meetings in which decision-making authority is placed either in one individual or in the group as a whole, we demonstrate that both kinds of discussions are dominated by such conversations. However, in the groups with one authoritative individual, the same pairings recur, some people say more than others, and the authoritative individual dominates and controls the discussion, no matter how many people are present. In the groups which hold authority jointly, participation is more equal and more pairings are represented, but these properties degrade as discussion size increases. Current management theory about "teams" suggest that groups which have joint authority make better and more innovative decisions but that teams should be kept small. The theory of output/input coordination links these suggestions with the communication pattern differences observed.
- workplace groups