Dunbar Valley

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= a Group Tresholds number of 90


Christopher Allen:

90 — "The Dunbar Valley".

"As Non-Exclusive Dunbar Number communities grow, they reach a point where increased time obligations and the noise of socialization required to keep the group cohesive requires a much more serious commitment from the participants. Like the Judas Number, the Dunbar Valley is a threshold nadir where more energy is required to keep a tightly-knit community together; either the community agrees to a higher level of commitment and grows to the next level, or the community splits apart.

I've found this to be true when growing a small business — where it is too small for any middle-management, but the sub-groups are too large for one person to manage effectively. I've also seen this with more ephemeral groups, such as when a small conference that worked well at 60 participants tries to grow and finds at at 100 participants they can't sustain a high enough intimacy level.

Another illustration of the Dunbar Valley is the history of the ancient Roman "century", a grouping that was originally 100 soldiers. However, as the years went by, centuries tended to decrease in numbers to only include 70 or 80 soldiers. This might well be due to Non-Exclusive Dunbar constraints: even in a very devoted group of military men, there was still the need for relationships with other century groups, with support staff, and with camp followers, ultimately lowering the attention that could be spent on the century itself." (http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2008/09/group-threshold.html)