Five Stages of Group Development Term Paper

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Group Development in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat

The development of groups is divided into five stages. These stages are used to describe the evolutionary process of a group from its formation to its dissolution. These stages represent milestones in this process, such as establishment of leadership or authority or determination of the group's goals. The five stages, in order, are the group formation stage, the intra-group conflict stage, the group cohesion stage, the task orientation stage, and the termination stage. These stages are also identified by a series of easily remembered descriptive names that are indicative of the stage's characteristics. The respective names of the stages are Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning.

Lifeboat was a movie produced by Alfred Hitchcock in 1944. It is an adaptation of a John Steinbeck novel. The movie opens with a view of a sinking ship, a lifeboat with a lone woman comes into view. Shortly, she rescues a crewman from the water. From their discussion we learn that they are survivors of a Nazi submarine attack. Their ship was sunk, but so was the submarine. They find other survivors (nine in total), both civilian and sailor; one of the survivors is even a German. They have little food and water, no compass, and no radio. Throughout the movie they face various trials in order to survive. In addition, they confront many human issues, such as the rights of prisoners at sea, the morals behind simple survival, the civilian casualties of war, and the desperation of being adrift at sea. The movie concludes with six of the nine original survivors being rescued by Allied forces.

This paper will examine the stages of group development and how they apply to the survivors stranded in the lifeboat. The various stages will be identified as they occur in the film. Character actions that support these conclusions will also be discussed in each stage.

In the group formation stage, the members of the group meet for the first time and learn about the
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task or tasks to be undertaken. The group defines its boundaries both socially and according to the group's task(s). Those members of the group who do not know one another introduce themselves for the first time.

This stage is of course accomplished when the survivors have all been gathered aboard the lifeboat. The survivors come from a variety of backgrounds. Many are crewmembers of the sunken freighter. One is a nurse. Another is a wealthy businessman. Another is a famous and worldly, but slightly cynical, journalist. The last person to be rescued from the water is a German sailor, from the U-boat that sunk their freighter.

The task presented to the group is dictated by their circumstances. Their first priority is obvious: survival. They find early on that they do not have sufficient supplies to wait to be rescued. Instead, they must make their way to Bermuda. Thus, they have codified the goal as survival and the method of accomplishing that goal as making for Bermuda.

The presence of the German sailor causes the group to define some of its boundaries. One of the sailors advocates tossing the German back into the water to drown. The businessman contends that the man is a prisoner of war, and is due to certain rights by international law. A sailor responds by saying that they are on their own on the open sea, and the law is what they make it. The businessman responds back by calling for a majority vote on such a decision, saying, "That's the American way." In this exchange, we can see some very basic issues being addressed. Does the group have an authoritarian leader, or is decision-making democratic? In such dire circumstances, will the group adhere to conventions such as international law? Being in a state of war, does that mean a German prisoner can be condemned to death out of hand, just for being on the other side?

The second stage is the intra-group conflict stage, also known as storming. At this point in the group's development, the discussions focus on the behavior; roles and social relationships appropriate for the group and its tasks.…

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