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Glen Whyte


Groupthink has been the leading explanation for crucial group decision failure ever since Irving Janis first proposed it in the early 1970s. According to Janis, groupthink describes “a mode of thinking that people engage in when they are involved in a cohesive in‐group, when the members' striving for unanimity overrides their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action” (1982: 9). This powerful concurrence ‐seeking tendency underlies groupthink and is manifested by a variety of symptoms in crucial decision‐making . These symptoms involve positive distortions in how the group views itself, closed‐mindedness, and conformity pressures ( see minority group influence ). These symptoms prevent the group from engaging in many of the basic elements of effective decision‐making, including identifying objectives, generating alternatives, gathering and accurately analyzing information, identifying risks, and formulating contingency plans. The lack of such procedures in crucial decision‐making almost inevitably leads to avoidable errors of judgment, excessively risky choices, and poorly crafted policies that are ripe for failure. Despite the dominance of groupthink in the decision‐making literature as an explanation for decision fiascos, several researchers have questioned its validity and proposed alternative explanations. These explanations reflect a lack of research ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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