Groupthink: Literature Review

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 6
Words: 1691
Reading time:
7 min
Study level: PhD


Groupthink is one of the most critical aspects, which occurs due to the inability to depict the rising conformity in the organization and the lack of desire to disturb the friendly atmosphere. Meanwhile, groupthink is one of the adverse psychological phenomena, as it tends to lead to wrongful decision-making and problem-solving. The primary goal of this literature review is to determine the critical features and symptoms of groupthink and expand the leadership skills and competencies while finding its correlation with the workplace-based issue associated with the utilization of underweighted acquisitions and mergers as an expansion instrument. In the end, the conclusions are drawn to summarize the practical and scientific approaches related to groupthink while portraying new insights.

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Literature Review

Groupthink is one of the elements, which tends to have a negative effect on the overall decision-making while leading to changes in the strategy and corporate culture within the organization. Leavitt highlights that the utilization of the groups to enhance the efficiency in the organizations is not novel, but it lacks compliance with the individualistic American culture (1974). Despite the disadvantages associated with the cohesion of the groups, these organizational formations have a substantial influence on the increase of creativity while adding innovative nature due to the ability to combine the dissimilar skills and competencies of the individuals while working on a similar task (Leavitt, 1974). An emphasis on the essentiality of the

groups in the decision-making process reflects the understanding that the generation of the groups as decision-making units has to be prioritized. Nonetheless, the primary drawback of the article is the lack of knowledge about the potential existence of the groupthink as an internal threat to the decision-making, as the focus on the positivity of the groups underestimates the groupthink’s ability to be a primary cause of the wrongful decisions.

In turn, Whyte underlines the vitality of the groups and claims that the group decision-making tends to decrease the development of escalation due to the distribution of the responsibility among the participants of the group while reducing the development of the behavioral patterns leading to the wrongful decision-making (1991). A formation of the group has a beneficial influence on the overall performance since the groups minimize the possibility of failure associated with the increased responsibility. Nonetheless, despite the ability of this theory to underline the significance of the groups, it tends to be biased, as various external and internal factors tend to affect the atmosphere in the group and might be a primary reason for the development of the groupthink.

In this case, it is crucial to depict the core matters indicate the development of the groupthink, and Janis emphasizes the ability to spot the common illusions and the understanding of the core patterns in the decision-making may contribute to the minimization of the influence of the groupthink on the decision-making groups (1973). At the same time, the researcher claims the role of the group dynamics cannot be underestimated, as the assessment of the leaders’ actions can eliminate the possibility of the occurrence of the similar critical situations in future (Janis, 1973). It remains apparent that this theory is useful during the evaluation of the alternatives, but it is not applicable when the rapid decision-making is required due to the necessity to act within the defined timeframe. Nonetheless, the understanding of the role of the group dynamics regarding the formation of the groupthink is critical, as it will contribute to the minimization of the issues associated with this social phenomenon at my workplace.

Furthermore, Wray claims that the fluctuations in the structure of the decision-making and problem-solving are the contributors of the groupthink, as this psychological factor implies the inability to consider the alternatives while making a decision and assessing the results (2014). Finding the balance between the individualist nature of the problem-solving and formation of the group is critical, as the disproportion and increasing cohesion will lead to the cultivation of the groupthink and wrongful decisions implying negative consequences (Wray, 2014). The understanding of these outcomes is crucial since they are associated with the ability of the organization to operate efficaciously in the market while maintaining its competitive advantage with the relevant decisions.

In turn, it has to be mentioned that the decision-making and the atmosphere within the group are affected by the ability of the leader to maintain the equilibrium in the working process (Shah, 2016). This matter highlights the essentiality of the understanding of the application of the leadership styles in the different situations, as the usage of an inappropriate approach might lead to the development of the misconceptions in the corporate culture and contribute to the cultivation of groupthink while being regarded as a symptom. This finding is novel and critical to the elimination of the development of the groupthink, as the correlation with the leadership style cannot be underestimated.

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Eisenhardt proposed the solutions, which enhance the possibilities of the avoidance of the groupthink while depicting the symptoms related to the slow decision-making (1989). In this case, the pursuing the strategy of the fast-decision-makers, which implies the focalization on an extended range of the informative sources while developing a plethora of alternatives, using the two-tiered guidance method, and applying the integrative strategies eliminates the development of the groupthink in the organization and leads to the structural and evaluated decisions (Eisenhardt, 1989). The novelty of these findings cannot be underestimated, as it contributes to the development of the decision-making patterns leading to the enhancement of the organizational efficiency and overall performance. Meanwhile, the application of these principles not only contributes to the understanding of the core symptoms of the groupthink but also develops a sophisticated leadership approach to increase the relevance of the decisions while minimizing the required time for the problem-solving.


The findings tend to reflect the understanding of the importance of the minimization of the occurrence of the groupthink and the recognition of its symptoms as a priority in the decision-making while being a competent leader. In this case, the groupthink’s symptoms imply the usage of the wrongful leadership styles, increasing cohesion between the group members, slow decision-making, and the inability to determine external risks. Nonetheless, the development of this physiological phenomenon can be diminished by understanding group dynamics and application of the fast decision-making culture to expand the range of alternatives and increase the possibility of the rightful decisions. The expansion of the knowledge regarding these features will assist the leader in the appropriate problem-solving related to the assessment of the conducted acquisitions in the context of the workplace-based problem.

Workplace-based Issue

Janis and Leavitt are regarded as the primary contributors to the development of the theories, which tend to highlight the importance of the groups and the potentiality for the advancement of the groupthink (Janis, 1973; Leavitt, 1974). Meanwhile, the workplace problematizing emphasizes that the theories are true, as the group was the core definer of the proposed decision while the groupthink determined the necessity of the acquisition despite the initial overpricing and the lack of the information about the firm. In this instance, the groupthink was the primary cause of the underestimation of the alternative companies for the mergers and the inability to introduce unconventional instruments for the organization’s enlargement.

Nevertheless, the instances of the groupthink’s identification are depicted in the adverse experience of using the acquisitions as a tool for expansion, as the presence of the psychological phenomenon is vehemently highlighted. It is clear that the groupthink occurred due to the prioritization of the managerial decision-making over the rest of the respondents. Meanwhile, this matter influenced the recent acquisition while leaving some aspects unclear. Nonetheless, the groupthink might tend to lead to the development of the controversial actions leading to the absence of compliance with the group norms due to working under high pressure (Croucher, 2015). In the context of the workplace-based issue, the group standards might be violated by providing unequal opportunities for sharing the opinions with the rest of the members while not respecting personal rights and freedoms.

In this case, three individuals including two senior managers and one external representative of the industry will be chosen for the generation of the group to find a solution to the workplace-based issue. In turn, I will have a contribution to the decision-making while playing the role of the mediator of the process. In this instance, the group of experts will be able to evaluate the historical nature of the decision-making and the previous actions of the leaders, as this analysis contributes to the development of appropriate decisions related to the acquisitions in future (Janis, 1973). Meanwhile, the presence of the external opinion will add an individualistic nature on the decision-making while emphasizing an importance of the externalities and alternative firms for the mergers and acquisitions.

The development of the controversies between the representatives of different departments might lead to the rise of the groupthink as the opinion of the internal members of the group might dominate and diminish the value of the viewpoint of the external expert. Meanwhile, the groupthink will contribute to the substantial rise of risks including the conformity and wrongful decisions leading to the decreasing organizational efficiency (Croucher, 2015). In the context of the workplace-based issue, the threats are related to the presence of the similar mistakes associated with the acquisitions and mergers and insignificant return on investment while questioning the compliance of the group’s actions with the corporate culture.

Despite the substantial power of the groupthink, its influences can be eliminated with the assistance of the utilization of an appropriate leadership style. In this case, it has to be aimed at the minimization of the tensions and cohesions while decreasing the rising pressure within the group (Pratkanis & Turner, 2013). Meanwhile, the leader has to cultivate the development of the conflict during the discussion phase to be able to determine an appropriate resolution while considering an argumentative nature of the responses of each participant (Pratkanis & Turner, 2013). In the context of the workplace-based case, I will play the role of the mediator to cultivate the presence of matters mentioned above and eliminate the domination of the particular viewpoint to avoid bias.

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Croucher, S. (2015). Understanding communication theory: A beginner’s guide. London, UK: Routledge.

Eisenhardt, K. (1989). Making fast strategic decisions in high velocity environments: Toward a mid-range theory. Academy of Management Journal, 32(3), 543-576.

Janis, I. (1973). Groupthink and group dynamics: A social psychological analysis of defective policy decisions. Policy Studies Journal, 2(1), 19-25.

Leavitt, H. (1974). Suppose we took groups seriously Web.

Pratkanis, A., & Turner, M. (2013). Methods for counteracting the groupthink risk: A critical appraisal. International Journal of Risks and Contingency Management, 2(4), 18.

Shah, C. (2016). The blind leading the blind. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 68(2), 212-226.

Whyte, G. (1991). Diffusion of responsibility: effects on the escalation tendency. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76(3), 408-415.

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Wray, B. (2014). Collaborative research, deliberation, and innovation. Episteme, 11(3), 291.