Poole’s Model – Small Group Communication

in Communication Models,Group Communication


Marshall Scott Poole is a senior research scientist and David & Margret Romano professorial scholar at National Center of Supercomputing Applications and the professor of communication and director of I-CHASS at the University of Illinois. Group communication, structural communication, Organisational novelty and theory formation encompasses his pursuits and has written more than 100 books and articles on this subject. His works on group communications have been broadly known and accepted. His current works include huge multiplayer online games and group behaviour, within a group how the construction of communications and information technologies occurs and network theory in intergroup networks and huge vigorously modifying groups. Poole’s multiple sequence models is one of the important innovation in small group communication by making the small communication more precise by applying sequences.


According to Marshall Scott Poole a decision making process by different groups are achieved through the application of different sequences. He had employed different contingency variables such as group composition, task structure and conflict management approaches to refer decision making. This was a contrast to the usual unitary sequence models. Decision development through various stages (phases) are found irrelevant by Poole as the decision is not just made up in stages that comes one after the other, but is a cluster of various linking activities and communication. His model is a descriptive system for studying the multiple contingency variables and it is consisted of 36 clusters for coding group communication and 4 cluster-sets such as proposal growth, conflict, socio-emotional interests and expressions of uncertainty. During a group interaction, the stages cannot be predicted by the members and so Poole put forward three tracks such as task, relation and topic. He suggested that these tasks occur at any time during a group communication.

Poole’s Model

Poole’s model put forward several tracks for the group communication and also stated the tracks can repeat or can happen at any time of the communication process. This model consists of the various tracks used for interpreting the communication styles that a group follows.

  • Task track
  • Relation track
  • Topic track
  • Break Points

Task track – This Initial stage is the understanding period. The people inside the group will try to set the goal and will try to figure out its procedure. Like many other models, this suggests how people understands about the problem and how are they going to solve it.

Example: During conflicts and war soldiers in a battalion or group try to set their objective under the main goal. And they all will work together to achieve the objective set by them in order to achieve the main goal. Soldiers in the group will have their own suggestions and opinions about achieving the objective which depends on their understanding of the problem.

Relation track – This track is emphasised on the interpersonal relation between the members of the group. As human beings are social animals, the people will find time to interact and relax as friends. Any relations can be sprouted through these interactions as they tend to reveal themselves to others and these relationships are essential in working as a group.

Example: Even during the war soldiers will find time to relate with their fellow soldiers as a means of relaxation. This sharing will help them to improve their motivation towards achieving the goal. It has to be noted that during the peak of fight soldiers will have their own means of relaxation by sharing and relating with fellow soldiers.

Topic track – There can be issues or concerns that a group might encounter and this track focuses on these issues regarding the group communication. Sometimes it may be argumentative conversation and in other times it can be a cooperative one.

Example: Consider the war field example for the same, during the process of achieving the objectives the their might be arguments regarding the steps involved with it or regarding any other reason based on their understanding. It can turn out to be dispute or a cooperative one.

Break points – During conversations, the group tends to shift through tracks. These points where the group shifts from one point to next is called break points. Example – Suspension, postponement.

Example: In real life conditions the thoughts and ideas comes up in no order in any of the group. There is no pre-set order.

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