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The History of INGRoup

"If researchers scattered across multiple fields could all link together to form an interdisciplinary field of group research, it would not only give voice to an important research area but also help to nurture and vitalize research in the various disciplines"


(Poole, Hollingshead, McGrath, Moreland, & Rohrbaugh, 2005, p. 17 in Theories of small groups: Interdisciplinary Perspectives)


Prior to the formation of INGRoup, there was not a regularly-occurring conference with open attendance for group and team scholars across fields. The need for INGRoup was apparent from the first conference held July 27-29, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. One-hundred and fifty-three participants attended the inaugural conference - nearly three times greater than anticipated! Participants spanned at least eight different disciplines and nine different countries. By all indicators, the inaugural conference was a success in uniting group scholars across fields and nations.


The initiative to form INGRoup began at the end of a small conference on the topic, Small Group Decision Making: Motivation and Cognition, sponsored by the European Association of Experimental Social Psychology and organized by Bianca Beersma, Carsten de Dreu, Bernard Nijstad, and Daan van Knippenberg. On September 5, 2003, the final conference dinner at In de Waag, an Amsterdam restaurant, enabled the remaining group of largely social psychologists to reflect on their conference experience. In recent years, the study of small groups in the field of social psychology had become less popular and had migrated to other fields with an organizational interest. The lingering crowd at dinner that night longed to partially replicate what they had just experienced: a conference where group research is central, yet one that occurs annually and attracts scholars across disciplinary boundaries. From this original discussion group emerged an ad hoc committee consisting of Verlin Hinsz, Andrea Hollingshead, Bernard Nijstad, Laurie Weingart, and Gwen Wittenbaum. Their initial plan was to host an inaugural conference in July, 2005--a goal that proved to be a bit too ambitious.


The seeds for INGRoup were planted well before the Amsterdam conference. Richard Moreland, Joe McGrath, M. Scott Poole, and John Rohrbach initiated two National Science Foundation sponsored meetings (the first in College Station, Texas in October, 2001 and a second in Cleveland, Ohio in November, 2002). These meetings united group scholars across disciplines to discuss theoretical perspectives for understanding groups (at the first meeting) and avenues for future research directions (at the second meeting). The first meeting resulted in a 2005 book, Theories of Small Groups: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (M. Scott Poole and Andrea Hollingshead, Editors; Sage Publications). In addition, versions of chapters from this book appeared in two different issues of Small Group Research in 2004 (Volume 35, issues 1 and 3). Three members of the eventual INGRoup organizing committee (Gwen Wittenbaum, Joann Keyton, and Rick Kettner-Polley) participated in these meetings. Clearly, the desire to promote interdisciplinary scholarship to understand behavior, dynamics, and outcomes in groups has been around for a while. After all of these years, the time was ripe for the formation of INGRoup.


The years following the grant-sponsored meetings were spent assessing interest for an annual interdisciplinary groups conference, developing momentum, and forming a group to move the initiative forward. Reception within the fields of psychology, management, and communication were positive, potential drawbacks notwithstanding (e.g., reduced presence of group scholars within their home fields). Remaining from the initial discussion group in Amsterdam were Laurie Weingart and Gwen Wittenbaum, who invited Joann Keyton, Rick Kettner-Polley, and Franziska Tschan to form an organizing committee to create what would become INGRoup and its associated conference. These five scholars met in Ludington, Michigan from July 6-8, 2005 (in part to include Joe McGrath who planned to stay nearby in Baldwin, Michigan; unfortunately, he was not able to join the committee). Across two intense days, this committee discussed ideas, made decisions, and generated plans that became INGRoup, including the name of the organization and its associated acronym. Their goal was to hold the first INGRoup conference in July, 2006 with the expectation that 50 to 75 participants would attend. Instead, over 150 participants attended the first conference, exceeding original expectations. Clearly, the inaugural INGRoup conference ended up becoming more popular than anticipated.


The future of INGRoup holds many possibilities, including the development of a newsletter, journal alliance, and book series. Thanks to many who laid the groundwork for the formation of INGRoup. This history provides a solid foundation on which INGRoup can rest for many years to come.