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Abilene Paradox. Group members adopt a position because they feel that other group members desire it Team members do not challenge suggestion because they want to avoid conflict or achieve consensus

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abilene paradox
Abilene Paradox
  • Group members adopt a position because they feel that other group members desire it
  • Team members do not challenge suggestion because they want to avoid conflict or achieve consensus
  • They have a set of expectations about the other group member’s expectations (how they feel). With one challenge it would burst the bubble.
Avoid the Abilene Paradox
    • People that propose a solution to the problem state it and then be open to feedback
    • Conduct a private vote—less pressure to conform
    • Frame the proposal as a decision to be made not as a solution
  • Definition - a mode of thinking in cohesive groups where striving for unanimity override the motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.
  • Consequences --A decline of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral reasoning.
  • President Kennedy invasion of Cuba—despite much information it would not be successful
  • Escalation of war in Vietnam by President Johnson despite fact that information would not defeat Viet Cong and increasing dissent at home
  • Enron- board aware of risky accounting practices, conflict of interest, hiding of debt
  • NASA shuttle disaster 1986—Challenger Disaster
antecedent conditions
Antecedent Conditions
  • *High cohesiveness - desire to remain a member of group, and person is uncertain of group approval of him/herself.
  • Overestimation of the group—members of the group see themselves as morally correct, and invulnerable, excessive optimism- We know the right way, we can’t fail.
  • Stereotyping of out-group members—people who do not agree with us are ill informed, stupid. They want what we want they want freedom. –makes other responses to conflict seem unnecessary and justify extreme measures.
Illusions of Unanimity—people suppress their doubts, don’t want to rock the boat.

fearful of saying something contrary to group.

  • Isolation of the group - group homogeneity in attitudes, values, opinions
  • Lack of methodological procedures for search and appraisal
  • Directive (charismatic) leadership
  • A crisis situation, an external threat
decision making effects
Decision Making Effects
  • Few alternatives generated
  • Lack of understanding of potential rewards and costs of each alternative
  • Lack of a workable contingency plan
  • Poor decision quality
preventing group think
Preventing Group Think
  • Team size may increase groupthink—less personal responsibility for team outcomes, harder to counter group majority, all these people can’t be wrong.
  • Leader should be impartial, not endorse a position
  • Everyone should critically evaluate—make it a norm—make it easy privately express doubts.
  • Use a form of Devil's Advocate—structure problem solving situation to legitimize debate
Encourage input of outside experts –bring in critical outsides. Not have the board of director a rubber stamp for the CEO—reduce the situation where the same people sit on multiple boards
  • Keep a log of all suggestions and review them before deciding
  • Generate a second solution
  • http://www.psysr.org/groupthink%20overview.htm