Groupthink Theory importance detailed analysis

 

Groupthink is a phenomenon in which group members reach a consensus on important issues through avoidance of alternative views and any points by avoiding any external influences on the issues (Janis, 1982). The group members try to avoid as much as possible any conflict so as to have a uniform final decision. Groupthink can lead to bad decisions especially by politicians, corporate organization leaders, and the jury (Janis, 1982). In this essay, the main discussions will be the theory of groupthink, and any research studies supporting groupthink. The others will be the implications of the group theory to the real world, examples, and the criticisms of the groupthink in the political, corporate organizations, and the jury.

 

The theory of groupthink

The group theory by Janis Irvin in 1982 describes the process of decision-making involving groups on various issues such as in politics, business, or legal (Janis, 1982). The groups have good cohesion and agree unanimously to one decision without evaluating any other alternative viewpoints or any risks associated with the decision made. The groupthink theory suggests that there is a lot of cohesion and oneness, but lacks directive leadership (Janis, 1982)of the decision team (Janis, 1982). According to the groupthink theory, some of the errors experienced by corporations are due to the unanimous agreement to a decision without evaluating the possible limitations (Janis, 1982). Some of the errors are decision timing and criticizing some decisions that are good and accepting the faulty ones in order for the group to remain cohesive.

Research studies that support groupthink

There are many studies that support and explain groupthink and how it affects decision-making in such areas as politics, the jury, and corporate organizations. One of the researchers is by Hart in 1990 when he studied the groupthink and its contribution to flawed decision-making in the government (Hart, 1990) (Hart, 1990). Another research by Kowert, in 2002, views groupthink as a way to avoid policy deadlock by listening to too much advice from outside the group (Kowert, 2002). He advises leaders to have their staff organized in a way that is suitable depending on their leadership and learning style (Kowert, 2002). The other research is by Janis, who sees groupthink as the psychological drive to arrive at a consensus with no room for disagreements and any alternatives (Janis, 1982). According to Janis, Groupthink system of decision-making led to the major foreign fiascoes, especially in the Korean War (Janis, 1982). (Esser, 1998)

 

Real-life examples of the implications of groupthink theory

There are a number of real-life examples of some implications of groupthink, in the political, legal, and corporate groups. One example is that of the Iran-contra scandal, a political scandal in the US during the second term of the Reagan Administration, showing that groupthink can cause political troubles (Badie, 2010). Some senior officers in the government facilitated the selling of the arms to Iran to free the seven American hostages in Lebanon by Iranians. Groupthink can lead to coup d’état in some countries. An example is a case concerning the Bay of Pigs’ invasion in which some Cuba refugees tried to topple Fidel Castro’s government, after receiving some training financed by the CIA (Kowert, 2002). Fidel had tried to attack the US companies, and the US government saw him as a threat to its territories and President Dwight ordered the training of the Cuban exiles, who attacked Cuba.  Another implication is in courts, where criminals emerge free even when they are guilty. An example is a case that led to the release of Casey Anthony, who had killed her baby, Caylee Anthony in America (Redding, 2012). There were 12 juries hearing the case, who unanimously agreed to acquit Anthony of any criminal offenses (Redding, 2012). The other real-life example of groupthink is the one that led to the collapse of the Swissair, which was initially doing very well (Walsh, 1989). The management had a strong self-belief as they unanimously made poor decisions and mismanaged the venture. The airline crumbled down and became bankrupt to the surprise of many (Walsh, 1989), which shows that groupthink can cause mismanagement of business corporations.

Criticisms of groupthink theory

There are a number of criticisms on the theory of groupthink by Janis, who portrays it as a negative phenomenon. Esser, (1998), argues that unanimous agreement can lead to improved performance of the group. Practically groupthink can assist in initiating training programs incorporate organizations, which can also minimize the troubles of groupthink in the workplace (Esser, 1998). Another criticism of the groupthink theory is that according to Janis, Groupthink and the outcome of the decisions made in the meetings have a direct connection (Hart, 1990). The fact is that other factors exist between the groupthink and the outcomes of the decision, such as financing and the environmental factors.  According to some studies in some American corporations, groupthink decision-making can help in making a sound judgment on management issues if those in the group have good leadership skills (Turner & Pratkanis, 1998). Esser also discovered that groupthink had a connection with failures, but there was no correlation between groupthink and cohesiveness (Esser, 1998).

Conclusion

 

Groupthink is a phenomenon in which group members reach a consensus on important issues through avoidance of alternative views and any points by avoiding any external influence on the issues (Ahlfinger & Esser, 2001). The groupthink theory suggests that there is a lot of cohesion and oneness, although there is a lack of directive leadership. There are many studies that support and explain groupthink and how it affects decision-making in such areas as politics, the jury, and corporate organizations (Aldag & Fuller, 1993). There are a number of real-life examples of some implications of groupthink, in the political, legal, and corporate groups, such as the Iran-contra scandal (Hart, 1990). There are a number of criticisms on the theory of groupthink by Janis, who portrays it as a negative phenomenon, such as one criticism by Esser (Esser, 1998). To understand the groupthink theory and its implications in various areas, many people need to come up with recent research findings to offer some he

References

Ahlfinger, N. & Esser, J. (2001). Testing the groupthink model: Effects of

Promotional leadership and conformity predisposition. Social Behavior &

            Personality: An International Journal, 29(1), 31-42.

Aldag, R. & Fuller, S. (1993). Beyond Fiasco: A Reappraisal of the Groupthink Phenomenon and a New Model of Group Decision Processes. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 533-552.

Badie, D. (2010). Groupthink, Iraq, and the War on Terror: Explaining US Policy Shift toward Iraq. Foreign Policy Analysis, 6(4), 277-296. doi:10.1111/j.1743-8594.2010.00113.x

Esser, J. (1998). Alive and well Amer 25 years: A review of groupthink research. Organize oral behavior and Human Decision Processes, 73, 116-141.

Hart, P. (1990). Groupthink in Government: A study of small groups and policy failure. Swets & Zeitlinger.

Janis, I. (1982). Groupthink. Houghton Mifflin

Kowert, P. (2002). Groupthink or deadlock. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Walsh, H. (1989). Groupthink. Rapidan, VA: Harland Publications.

Redding, R. (2012). Likes Attract The Sociopolitical Groupthink of (Social) Psychologists. Perspectives On Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/1745691612455206

Turner, M. & Pratkanis, A. (1998). Twenty-five years of groupthink theory and research. Organize: on Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 73, 105-115.

 


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