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In Mixed Company

Communicating in Small Groups and Teams

Tenth edition

J. Dan Rothwell

Publication Date - September 2018

ISBN: 9780190919900

408 pages
7-1/2 x 9-1/4 inches

In Stock

Retail Price to Students: $94.99

A brief, affordable text that combines theory, applications, and current research on small group communication through humor and a conversational style


In Mixed Company, Tenth Edition, combines theory, applications, and current research on small group communication in a conversational and engaging style. The communication competence model and principles of cooperation guide discussions of key small group concepts and processes throughout the text.

* Rothwell's trademark style--erudite yet conversational and approachable and filled with practical advice, startling anecdotes, and humorous stories--engages readers like no other group communication textbook does
* Integrates a communication competence perspective throughout, providing a clear communication focus that is rigorous, engaging, and practical.
* The text's unique emphasis on the role of power in small group communication helps students see that power is a central underlying element in small group conflict, teamwork, decision making, problem solving, normative behavior, roles, and leadership.
* Systems theory--a key theoretical component of the text--equips students with an easy-to-understand conceptual framework for analysis and insights.
* Lively photos and cartoons bring chapter concepts to life.

New to this Edition

  • Hundreds of new references incorporate the most current research and theory on small group communication
  • New business-oriented and workplace examples, surveys, and studies
  • Expanded discussion of technology and its influence on small group communication, including substantial new material on virtual groups and social media
  • Extensive treatment of culture shows how inseparable culture is from most communication topics
  • Diversity issues are incorporated throughout the text, including a revised section on gender and ethnic bias and leadership emergence

About the Author(s)

J. Dan Rothwell recently retired as Chair of the Communication Studies Department at Cabrillo College, where he taught for thirty years. He is the author of three other books: Practically Speaking (OUP, 2017), In the Company of Others: An Introduction to Communication (OUP, 2016), Telling It Like It Isn't: Language Misuse and Malpractice (1982), and he coauthored Interpersonal Communication: Influences and Alternatives (1975) with James Costigan.

Previous Publication Date(s)

January 2015
January 2012
January 2009


"I find the overall approach in Rothwell's text refreshing and authentic."--Sarah Burrows, Providence College

"I very much appreciate the readability, examples, and fun that In Mixed Company has in presenting research--humor is always a bonus!"--Kathleen Propp, Western Michigan University

"This text directs itself toward a broad based understanding of small group communicative interactions. Discussions of virtual groups, negotiating and critical thinking offer insightful perspectives that provide portable skills across communicative interactions."--William J. Taylor, Kansas State University

"A Small Group Comm textbook that isn't going to cost your students an arm and a leg, but is informed, readable, and research based."--Tammy McGuire, Pacific Union College

Table of Contents


    Myths about Communication
    Myth 1: Communication Is a Cure-all
    Myth 2: Communication Can Break Down
    Myth 3: Effective Communication Is Merely Skill Building
    Myth 4: Effective Communication Is Just Common Sense
    Communication Defined
    Communication as Transactional: Mutually Influential
    Communication as a Process: The Continuous Flow
    Communication as Sharing Meaning: Making Sense
    Verbal Communication: Telling It Like It Isn't
    Nonverbal Communication: Wordless Meaning

    Communication Competence
    Effectiveness: Achieving Goals
    A Matter of Degree: From Deficiency to Proficiency
    We (Not Me) Oriented: Primacy of Groups
    Appropriateness: Following the Rules
    Rule Violations: Consequential Effects
    Rule Changes: No Sacrosanct Rules
    Intercultural Challenges: Individualism-Collectivism
    Achieving Communication Competence
    Knowledge: Learning the Rules
    Skills: Showing, Not Just Knowing
    Sensitivity: Receptive Accuracy
    Commitment: A Passion for Excellence
    Ethics: The Right and Wrong of Communication
    Definition for a Group
    Groups: More than People Standing at a Bus Stop
    Interpersonal Communication and Public Speaking: Ungroups
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Interconnectedness of Parts
    Ripple Effect: A Chain Reaction
    Synergy: One Plus One Equals a Ton
    Negative Synergy: Results Beyond Bad
    Adaptability: A Changing Environment
    Dynamic Equilibrium: Managing Stability and Change
    Dealing with Difficult Group Members: Bad Apple Spoilage
    Boundary Control: Regulating Input
    Communication Methods of Boundary Control: Erecting Barriers
    Physical Barriers: Protecting Group Space
    Psychological Barriers: Member in Name Only
    Linguistic Barriers: Having to Speak the Language
    Rules: Permission Not Granted
    Roles: Staying in Bounds
    Networks: Controlling Information and Interaction Flow
    Open and Closed Systems: Setting Effective Boundaries
    Influence of Size
    Group Size and Complexity
    Quantitative Complexity: Exponentially Complicated
    Complexity and Group Transactions: Size Matters
    An Organization: A Group of Groups
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Primary Dimensions of Groups
    Task and Social Dimensions: Working and Relating
    Building Cohesiveness: Bringing Us Together
    Encourage Compatible Membership
    Develop Shared Goals
    Accomplish Tasks
    Develop a Positive History of Cooperation
    Promote Acceptance of Group Members
    Periodic Phases of Group Development

    Forming: Gathering Members
    Reasons We Join Groups: Motivation
    Member Diversity: The Benefits and Challenges of Difference
    Storming: Feeling the Tension
    Primary Tension: Initial Uneasiness
    Secondary Tension: Later Stress and Strain
    Norming: Regulating the Group
    Types of Norms: Explicit and Implicit
    Sources of Norms: Without and
    Within the Group
    Degree of Conformity: Strength of Group Pressure
    Why We Conform: Fitting In
    Conditions for Conformity: When We Bow to Group Pressure
    Addressing Nonconformity: When Groups Get Tough

    Performing: Group Output
    Motivation to Perform: Social Loafing and Social Compensation
    When Groups Outperform Individuals: Three Heads Are Better Than One
    When Individuals Outperform Groups: No Magic in Groups

    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Positivity versus Negativity
    Negativity Bias: Agile, Funny, Smart, Friendly, But Unethical
    The Magic Ratio: Emphasizing Recognition and Praise
    Competition and Cooperation
    Definitions: Conceptual Clarity
    Competition: Winners Take All
    Cooperation: Winners All
    Individual Achievement: Going It Alone
    Hypercompetitiveness: Winning Is Everything
    Constructive Competition: Tempering Hypercompetitiveness
    Culture and Hypercompetitiveness: Different Values
    Cooperative Group Climates: Cultivating Positivity
    Communication and Group Climate
    Defensive and Supportive Communication: Shaping Climates
    Criticism versus Description
    Control versus Problem Orientation
    Manipulation versus Assertiveness
    Indifference versus Empathy
    Superiority versus Equality
    Certainty versus Provisionalism
    Incivility versus Civility

    Listening: Enhancing Positivity
    Shift Response versus Support Response: Focusing on Me or Thee?
    Interrupting: Seizing the Floor
    Ambushing: Preparing Rebuttals

    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Influence of Roles
    Role Status: Playing by Hierarchical Rules
    Role Conflict: Torn between Two Roles
    Role Reversal: When Students Become Teachers
    Types of Roles
    Task Roles: Focusing on Maximum Productivity
    Maintenance Roles: Focusing on Cohesiveness
    Disruptive Roles: Focusing on Self
    Role Emergence
    Group Endorsement: Accepting a Bid?
    Role Specialization: Settling into One's Primary Role?
    Role Adaptability
    Role Flexibility: Adapting to Context
    Role Fixation: Failure to Adapt
    Newcomers and System Disturbance
    Nature of the Group: The Challenge of Acceptance
    Group Socialization: Mutual Adaptation to Change
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Definition of Leadership
    Leadership and Followership: Let's Dance
    Leader and Manager: Different Type of Influence
    Leadership Emergence
    How Not to Become a Leader: The Thou Shalt Nots
    General Emergence Pattern: Process of Elimination
    Additional Factors: Implicit Theories of Leadership
    Perspectives on Effective Leadership
    Traits Perspective: The Born Leader View
    Styles Perspective: One Style Doesn't Fit All
    Situational Perspective: Matching Styles with Circumstances
    Distributive Leadership: Sharing Functions
    Ethical Leadership: Serving Group Members
    Culture and Leadership: Are There Universal Theories?
    Communication Competence Perspective: The Overarching View
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Standard Groups versus Teams
    Distinctions: The Foremost Four
    Level of Cooperation: The Working Together Imperative
    Diversity of Skills: Looking for Complementarity
    Group Identity: Operating as a Unit
    Time and Resources: Commitment to the Team
    Definition of a Team: A Special Kind of Group
    Team Members
    Team Slayers: Members' Bad Attitudes and Bad Behavior
    Egocentrism: Me-Deep in Omnipotence
    Cynicism: Communicating a Can't-Do Attitude
    Verbal/Nonverbal Abuse: Bad Behavior Kills Teams

    Team Builders: Choosing and Developing Team Members
    Experience and Problem-Solving Abilities: Core Competencies
    Communication Training: Developing Members' Competence
    Building Teamwork

    Developing Team Goals: The Four Cs
    Clear Goals: Everyone on the Same Page
    Cooperative Goals: Interdependent Challenges
    Challenging Goals: Denting the Universe
    Commitment to Goals: A Passion to Succeed
    Developing a Team Identity: Unifying Members
    Symbolic Convergence: Communicating Fantasy Themes
    Solidarity Symbols: Unifying Nonverbally
    Team Talk: The Language of We
    Designating Clear, Appropriate Roles: Room for One Quarterback
    Team Empowerment: Enhancing Members' Capabilities
    Definition of Empowerment: Four Dimensions
    Hierarchical Organizations: The Enemy of
    Team Empowerment
    Self-Managing Work Teams: The IDEO Model
    Impediments to Team Empowerment: No Buy-In
    Establishing Individual Accountability: Providing Feedback
    Competent Team Leadership
    Nurturing Empowerment
    Requiring a Cooperative Environment: Killing Fear and Ego
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Information Overload
    Scope of the Problem: The Information Avalanche
    Consequences: The Downside of Information
    Critical Thinking Impairment: Separating Wheat from Chaff
    Indecisiveness: Conclusion Irresolution
    Inattention: Difficulty Concentrating
    Diminished Creativity: Thwarting Showerthoughts
    Coping with Information Overload: Wrestling the Beast
    Screen Information: Separating the Useful from the Useless
    Shut Down Technology: Hitting the Off Switch?
    Become Selective: On a Need-to-Know Basis
    Limit the Search: When Enough Is Enough
    Discern Patterns: Recognizing Irrelevant Information
    Focus: Don't Multitask
    Information Underload

    Mindsets: Critical Thinking Frozen Solid
    Confirmation Bias: One-Sided Information Searches
    The Problem: Poor Decisions and Solutions
    Combating Confirmation Bias: A Plan
    False Dichotomies: Either-Or Thinking
    Collective Inferential Error: Uncritical Thinking
    Prevalence of the Problem: It's a Group Thing
    Sources of Inferential Errors: Distortions and Correlations
    Unrepresentativeness: Distorting the Facts
    Inferred as Causation: Covariation
    Error Correction: Practicing Critical Thinking
    Group Polarization: Extremely Uncritical Thinking
    Polarization: From Gambling to Guarded
    Why Groups Polarize: Comparison and Persuasion
    Combating Group Polarization: Necessary Steps
    Groupthink: Critical Thinking in Suspended Animation
    Conditions: Excessive Cohesiveness and Concurrence Seeking
    Identification of Groupthink: Main Symptoms
    Overestimation of the Group's Power and Morality: Arrogance
    Closed-Mindedness: Clinging to Assumptions
    Pressures toward Uniformity: Presenting a United Front
    Preventing Groupthink: Promoting Vigilance
    In Mixed Company Online/Video Case Studies

    Group Discussion Functions and Procedures
    Phases and Functions: General Considerations
    Multiple Sequence Model: Phases of Decision Making
    Functional Perspective: Being Systematic
    The Standard Agenda: Structuring Group Discussion
    Problem Identification: What's the Question?
    Problem Analysis: Causes and Effects
    Solution Criteria: Setting Standards
    Solution Suggestions: Generating Alternatives
    Solution Evaluation and Selection: Deciding by Criteria
    Solution Implementation: Follow-through
    Decision-Making Rules: Majority, Minority, Unanimity
    Majority Rule: Tyrannical or Practical
    Minority Rule: Several Types
    Unanimity Rule: Consensus

    Critical Thinking and Effective Decision Making
    Gathering Information: Accumulating Input
    Evaluating Information: Countering "Truth Decay"
    Credibility: Is It Believable??
    Currency: Is It Up to Date??
    Relevance: Looking for Logical Connections
    Representativeness: Reflecting the Facts
    Sufficiency: When Enough Really Is Enough

    Cultural Diversity: Is Silence Golden?
    Increasing Participation: Constructive Engagement
    Conducting Effective Meetings
    Group Meetings: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
    Responsibility of Chairs and Members: Guiding Discussion
    Creative Problem Solving
    General Overview: The Creative Process
    Creative Techniques: Systematic Procedures
    Brainstorming and Nominal Group Techniques: Generating Lots of Ideas
    Framing/Reframing: It's All in the Wording

    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    The Nature of Power
    Forms of Power: Dominance, Prevention, and Empowerment
    Communication Indicators of Power
    General Indicators: Defining, Following, and Inhibiting
    Verbal Indicators: Language Choices
    Nonverbal Indicators: Silent Exercise of Power

    Power Resources: The Raw Materials of Influence
    Information: Good and Plenty
    Expertise: Information Plus Know-How
    Legitimate Authority: You Will Obey
    Rewards and Punishments: Pleasure and Pain
    Personal Qualities: A Powerful Persona

    Consequences of Power Imbalances
    Bias Against Women and Ethnic Minorities: Leadership Gap
    Workplace Bullying: Blatant Aggression
    Power Distance: Cultural Variation
    General Description: Horizontal and Vertical Cultures
    Communication Differences: With Whom May You Communicate?
    Balancing Power
    Defiance: Digging in Your Heals
    Resistance: Dragging Your Feet
    Sluggish Effort: How Slow Can You Go?
    Strategic Stupidity: Smart People Playing Dumb
    Loss of Motor Function: Conscious Carelessness
    The Misunderstanding Mirage: Confusion Illusion?
    Selective Amnesia: Fake Forgetfulness
    Tactical Tardiness: Late by Design
    Purposeful Procrastination: Deliberate Delays
    Alliances: Forming Coalitions
    Developing Empowerment: Exercising Positive Power
    Developing Assertiveness: Neither Doormat nor Boot Wiper
    Increasing Personal Power Resources: Expanding Choices

    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Nature of Conflict
    Definition: Incompatible, Interconnected Struggle
    Benefits of Conflict: Dissent Can Be Productive
    Destructive and Constructive Conflict: Differences
    Styles of Conflict Management
    Collaborating: Problem Solving
    Confrontation: Directly Addressing the Problem
    Integration: Seeking Joint Gains
    Smoothing: Calming Troubled Waters
    Accommodating: Yielding
    Compromising: Halving the Loaf
    Avoiding: Withdrawing
    Competing: Power-Forcing
    Comparing Styles: Likelihood of Success
    Situational Factors
    Types of Conflict: Task, Relationship, and Value
    Task Conflict: Routine or Nonroutine
    Relationship Conflict: It's
    Values Conflict: Deeply Felt Struggles
    Culture and Conflict: Communication Differences
    Negotiating Strategies
    Positional Bargaining: Hard and Soft Negotiating
    Principled Negotiation: Interest-Based Bargaining
    The Four Principles: Appropriate Rules
    Remaining Unconditionally Constructive: Sound Judgment?
    The BATNA: Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement
    Anger Management

    Constructive and Destructive Anger: Intensity and Duration
    Managing Your Own Anger: Taking Control
    Managing the Anger of Others: Communication Jujitsu
    Questions for Critical Thinkers
    Video Case Studies

    Technological Virtual Group Options
    Text-Messaging: Typing Gone High Tech
    Audioconferences: Voice-Only Technology
    Videoconferences: Sight and Sound
    Benefits and Challenges of Virtual Groups
    Time and Space: The Death of Distance
    Decision Making: Quality of the Output
    Decision-Making Delays: Increased Frustration
    Social Relationships: Developing Personal Connections
    Power Differences: Prominence of Status Cues
    Conflict: Constructive and Destructive
    Improving Virtual Group Effectiveness
    General Factors: Getting Set for Success
    Team Identification: Connecting
    Media Richness: The Lean and Meaty Theory
    Media Synchronicity: Extending MRT
    Specific Suggestions: Unique Advice
    Choosing Media: Richness and Synchronicity?
    Conducting Virtual Meetings: Special Challenges
    Questions for Critical
    Video Case Studies

    Appendix A: Group Oral Presentations
    Appendix B: Critical Thinking Revisited: Arguments and Fallacies
    Subject Index

Teaching Resources

Ancillary Resource Center (ARC): at https://oup-arc.com/access/rothwell-mixed-company10e is a convenient, instructor-focused single destination for resources to accompany your text. Accessed online through individual user accounts, the ARC provides instructors with access to up-to-date ancillaries at any time while guaranteeing the security of grade-significant resources. In addition, it allows OUP to keep instructors informed when new content becomes available. See resources available on the Ancillary Resource Center (ARC) below:

·         Instructor’s Manual and Test Bank written by J. Dan Rothwell

·         PowerPoint Presentations written by J. Dan Rothwell

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