What is a clear and direct explanation of a qualitative functional perspective of group decision making according to Gerardine DeSanctis and Marshall Scott Poole's Adoptive Structuration Theory?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Gerardine DeSanctis and Marshall Scott Poole based their Adaptive Structuration Theory off of Anthony Gidden's structuration theory. According to Gidden, social systems are maintained and even reproduced through the rules and resources that the members of a society make use of. In other words, it is a person's actions that shape the person's social structure in which they are surrounded. DeSanctis and Poole took this theory one step further by also arguing that not only do our actions shape society, social structures shape our actions, and social structures are also shaped by our actions.

When we speak of structuration or social structures, we are talking about the rules and resources we use to create social systems. One example can be seen in any work environment, like an office environment. Every person within that group office environment goes by a certain set of rules, such as the employee handbook, cultural expectations, and work place cultural expectations. Each person also enters the office environment with his/her own set of resources, such as education, experience, relationships, and communication skills. So when the office group interacts to accomplish a goal, each person also acts by using his/her own set of rules and resources that are available to him/her. It is the use of the rules and resources that either work to help the group achieve its goals or fail to achieve it's goal, thereby shaping the office group environment. If the application of these rules and resources succeeds in helping the office group achieve its goal, then naturally the group will continue to use those same rules and resources, thereby serving to reproduce the same environment that these group members are already accustomed to. But if applying these rules and resources actually makes the group fail in achieving its goal, then naturally it will decide that new rules and resources need to be used instead, thereby serving to change the group environment.

Hence, just as DeSanctis and Poole assert through Adaptive Structuration Theory, the social structures, or rules and resources, we as people use within a social group environment help to shape our actions through either the success or failure of the social structures. At the same time, social structures will also be shaped by our actions depending on if the social structures succeed or fail in obtaining the group's goal.