Groupthink Theory

    The aim of the annotated bibliographies is to provide the reader with a clearly outlined explanation of the evolution of Groupthink by discussing several important developments including Janis'(1972) Groupthink theory. Eight annotated bibliographies (including both literature reviews and research articles) are examined and presented in chronological sequence. Whyte’s (1952) publication of ten essays on group based decision making is the initial point for the development of the Groupthink theory. Using a literature review by Bernstein (1952) an examination of Whyte’s (1952) work is considered, with three major conclusions. This review briefly explores the roles that social engineering and social science play in improving organisational behaviours and decision making. The most significant development on the Groupthink theory came from Janis (1972).

    Using a literature review by Ransom (1974), Janis'(1972) six procedural defects contributing to faulty decision making are defined: failure to survey the full range of alternatives; inattention to nonobvious risks and drawbacks; inattention to courses of action initially judged to carry prohibitive costs; neglecting to seek expert advice; downgrading advice or information that challenges preferred positions; inadequate attention to difficulties to be expected in implementing decisions. In his landmark research Janis uses major global incidents to describe his theory. Whyte (1989) discusses alternative reasons for decisions which are considered to have been affected by Groupthink and created large fiascos. The paper discusses xamples of decisions which have been used as the basis for the theory behind the Groupthink concept. It explores alternate reasons why these decisions were made poorly. Park (2000) aims to explain the reasons for and methods used to test the 24 variables which affect Janis’s Groupthink model. This study only partially supports Janis’ model of Groupthink.

    However, Park’s work did support the model that if symptoms of Groupthink were present then the quality of the decisions was also questionable. Articles by Crichlow and Schafer (1996, 2002) examine Janis’s theory in depth by analysing results of a quantitative analysis based on the original Groupthink model. Their research is conducted on further analysis of war situations and draws correlations to Janis’s theory. However, as their research develops it becomes clear that more work is required to completely develop the Groupthink model. Baron (2005) critically reviews the last three decades of research and related discussions regarding Janis’ Groupthink model. Baron introduces a Ubiquity Model of Groupthink which represents a modification of Janis’ model. He states that Groupthink is more common that Janis first envisaged and is not solely confined to those decision making groups that are set within the antecedent conditions of crisis, cohesion, threat, insulation, member insecurity, directive leadership and time pressures.