We offer a new conceptualization and measurement models for constructs at the group-level of analysis in small group research. The conceptualization starts with classical notions of group behavior proposed by Tönnies, Simmel, and Weber and then draws upon plural subject theory by philosophers Gilbert and Tuomela to frame a new perspective applicable to many forms of small group behavior. In the proposed measurement model, a collective property is operationalized as shared interpersonal action that explicitly allows us to control for systematic (method) error and random error. Group members act as key-informants of group properties and processes and are treated as methods in a multi-trait multi-method setting to validate our models. The models are applied to empirical data of 277 three-person groups to develop and illustrate new procedures for ascertaining variation in measures due to hypothesized construct(s), method error, and random error. Implications and guidelines for small group research are discussed.

Authors: René Algesheimer, Richard P. Bagozzi and Utpal M. Dholakia