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Examining group purpose and self-motivation as antecedents to cohesiveness in groups.  Suggesting reconceptualisations of Teamship, Group Purpose, Group Stage Development, Group Cohesiveness, Group Interdependence and Teams


The primary purpose of this study was to examine group purpose and self-motivation as antecedents to cohesiveness in groups, and to explore a notion of “teamship”.  The study employed a longitudinal action research design in an international rugby squad over an eight-month period and spanning two competitive tournaments, including the Rugby World Cup Repechage in 2018, and the Rugby Europe International Championship in 2019.  The researcher held both academic and practitioner roles for the duration of the engagement.

Multiple data sources were used: in-depth interviews; observation; documents; social media channels; photographic records; video recordings and researcher reflections which were analysed from first-, second-, and third-person perspectives, providing a comprehensive longitudinal perspective on the temporal development of group processes and self-motivational needs and fulfilment.

The research contributes to knowledge in the areas of group cohesiveness, group purpose, group stage development, group processes and group-member motivation and behaviour.  

The main contributions of the study are: 1) reconceptualisation of group purpose as a multi-level construct; 2) reconceptualisation of group cohesiveness as a multi-dimensional fluid emergent state in groups, with bonds of cohesion that evolve and change; 3) a novel typology of groups and group stage development based on group purpose, task interdependence, group cohesiveness, group identity and self-motivational needs; 4) the addition of “affective interdependence” to the extant literature on group interdependence; 5) the determination that a “team” is an emergent group state based on selfless behaviours, group identity and group self-regulation; and 6) the conceptualisation and definition of “teamship” in both theory and practice.

The structure of the thesis and use of abductive second-person analysis to create third person retroductive insights contributes to action research method.

Future research should seek to explore further the findings from the study.

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