Groupthink is essentially a negative byproduct of the process of group decision making which is believed to be related to the group-established norms. It involves a situation where a group is applying pressure to all its members to agree without question with the decisions or positions taken by the majority or by the dominant members of the group. This situation emerges because it is the behavior which is considered acceptable by the group.
In other words, when the majority has already decided on a particular course of action, every member is not only expected to go along but is also discouraged from articulating any dissenting or opposing views. Whoever persists in raising unpopular views is usually considered disloyal to the group’s objectives. Consequently, organizational behavior researchers are one in their belief that groupthink effectively negates whatever advantages are supposed to be enjoyed by a group from diversity because decisions are being reached without giving due consideration to alternative courses of action (Robbins, 2005).
Groupthink, however, could be prevented once its causes as well as its consequences could be made known to a group. In other words, it would only be possible for a specific group to avoid groupthink if its members are fully aware of the harm that it could do to the group. Then the leader of the group should do his or her share. First, he or she should always adopt a position of neutrality because only a neutral leader could establish a climate of “open inquiry” which would enable the group to consider all available courses of action.
In addition to his or her readiness to accept criticism, a group leader should also see to it that the objections and the doubts expressed by minority members are first resolved before any final decision is taken. It would also serve the best interests of the group if the leader could assign some of the more articulate members to play the role of the devil’s advocate for the purpose of generating a more extensive discussion.
Finally, it is advisable for a group to collectively work for the establishment of a norm that would require the group members not to ignore ideas just because they are unpopular, hence, effectively preventing the emergence of groupthink (Janis and Mann, 1977).
Janis, I. L. & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. New York: Free Press. Retrieved February 9, 2009, from http://www. hillconsultinggroup. org/assets/pdfs/articles/8-symptoms-group-think. pdf Robbins, S. P. (2005). Organizational behavior (11th ed. ). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.