The intergroup and institutional events:

An overview of designs, foci, structures, and functions

Stan De Loach, Ph.D.

Types of intergroup event

All the spaces designated for member-group activity, all the spaces but one, or none of the spaces may have a staff consultant present during the time periods set aside for the intergroup event.  Staff consultants are not usually assigned to members' spaces during the institutional event.  In all cases, consultants’ verbal work with member groups is task-focused, brief, and occasionally time-limited.  The presence or absence of staff consultants in the member spaces determines the type of intergroup event presented.

In a Type 1 format, the staff consultant remains in the space throughout the event; in a Type 2 format, staff consultants are dispatched to members’ spaces only when members appropriately request task-related consultation (Astrachan & Flynn, 1976).  In a modified Type 1/2 format, consultants are present in members’ spaces only during the first session of the intergroup event; thereafter, they are available, usually in alphabetical order, upon appropriate request.

If consultants are not assigned to all spaces, members exercising the option of asking for a staff consultant's services channel their requests to the entire staff met together or, in the Type 2 format, directly to the staff consultants, met apart from the management or directorate [i.e., the director, associate director(s), and administrator(s)] of the conference.

A senior consultant may be designated by the director to work in a space set aside for meetings between two or more groups or their authorized representatives.  This intergroup consultant may remain in the space designated for such intergroup meetings and consult to all such meetings.  More often, however, the intergroup consultant is present at meetings between two or more groups only when the groups have made an appropriate request for staf consultation to task-pertinent work.  Except for Type 1 intergroup events, member groups are free to meet without staff consultation, if they so desire.

A staff member may be assigned by the director to act as supervising boundary consultant.  When member emissaries approach the staff room's physical boundary, seeking face-to-face verbal interaction with the director or staff collective, the supervising boundary consultant's task is either to oversee the staff boundary manager's negotiations with them or to be solely responsible for decisions regarding their admission to staff's space.  The individual staff consultant's expertise is utilized in his or her decision about whether the members’ request, objective, and motivation are appropriate and legitimate.

During the intergroup event, members may or may not have access to observation or face-to-face verbal negotiations with the staff group.  During the institutional event, such access is routine.  If the staff performs its managerial functions publicly, member-group interactions with the staff, through the employment of authorized representatives, are customarily encouraged.  The four or more time periods usually set aside for the event may be scheduled consecutively or may be spread over one or more days.  The event may conclude with or without a plenary review.

History and parameters of the intergroup event
Types of intergroup event
Intergroup and institutional event foci
The director's tasks
Structures: Paradigms for learning
Boundary functionaries
The staff room's boundaries
Recent innovation
The member-staff boundary consultant's entry into members' groups
The learning tasks of intergroup representation and negotiation

Related topic:  Study group consultancy: Elements of the task


1998, 1999, 2006, 2016 by Dr. Stan De Loach.  All rights reserved.

iii 2016
vi 2006
ix 1999
vi 1998