Colman(2001) in a dictionary of psychology defines groupthink as “ a collective pattern of defensive avoidance , characteristic of a group decision making in organisations in which group members develop rationalisations in supporting illusions of their own infallibility and invulnerability within the organisation . ”p. 318. It entails that there is more of concurrence than critical thinking when making decisions in an organisation. This article will discuss how groupthink can affect decision making in an organisation such as school, political party and airtel (Business Company).
Groupthink can cause poor performance or even failure to achieve the organisations objectives. Its tendency of seeking concurrence can for example make a wrong decision triumph (Shepherd, 1964). For instance, a cafeteria committee can change the supplier of food stuffs. If the group does not objectively consider the decision may end up selecting poor food stuffs that may be unhealthy to the students. Coon and Mitterer (2007) state that the urge to make such decisions may arise from the need to maintain others approval even at the cost of critical thinking.
In apolitical party groupthink results in poor allocation of resources. For example, parties spend a great deal of resources of University Party Wings at the expense of the grassroots electorate. It a phenomenon that protectors of their group do not scrutinise critically but merely sustains the tradition due to failure to see other alternatives that could be available. Groupthink creates failed systems in organisations (Harvard business School, Online). Institutions are likely to repeat or continue of ineffective projects.
Members of a group converge their opinions without objective analysis (Brown, 1965). This results in no consultations as outer groups are seen as enemies. They also feel to be infallible. A failed system is thus likely to emerge due to groupthink. For instance, airtel introduced some irrelevant airtime bundles which they had to reverse after some time because they discovered that they made two identical bundles. In a school as an institution, a possible example of how groupthink can affect decision making is that some students in class may yield to groupthink.
Teachers have to note the enormous ability of students to influence others in decisions. Through groupthink learners might agree on a wrong decision or force others to agree (Gage, 1995). Learners may thus fail to grasp the intended learning outcomes. Groupthink also affects decision making in organisations in the way that solutions that are initially presented by most members are never re-examined to seek out less obvious shortfalls and strengths. They even fail examine those original points that were supported by the majority.
This leads to decisions that result in costly mistakes. For example, there could be an element of groupthink in primary schools who force learners to pay money to access the free primary education. The teachers claim that the money is for the salary for watchmen among other claims, yet it is clear that that is the duty of government. The results in such primary schools has been increased abscondment let alone drop outs. Similarly, some primary school committees have decided to compel learners to be fetching firewood for the as School Feeding Programme.
This costs students time and the rationality of the decision is questionable. The other way in which groupthink affects decision making in organisation is that decisions are centre around the control of one person usually a leader who protects the group from adverse information that might undermine the existing complacency. Direct pressure is also mounted on any member who might hold dissenting views on consensus opinion (Colman, 2001; Weiten, 2007).
This automatically rules out comfortable participation from members there by compromising the credibility of an rganisation’s decisions. This in turn blocks communication flow which is vital in any organisation. For example, in Political Parties such tendencies lead to divisions manifested in emergency of mutinies such as that of United Democrat Front earlier this year when others went on with the Convention while other shunned it. In conclusion, groups are supposedly thought to have high likelihood of making brilliant decisions yet this is not always the case (Cartwright and Zander, 1968 cited in Levine and Moreland, 1995).
It has been found that groupthink can affect the decision making in organisations that lead to poor decisions. Costy mistakes are made, objectives are not effectively achieved and groups fail to change a failing policy. Whyte (1989) points out that the wish for unanimity overrides members motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action. Thus, it can be argued generally that the effect of groupthink in organisation decision making is that it declines the quality of decisions tha t compromise the ambitions, efficiency and productivity of an organisation.
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