Abilene Paradox - Definition
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What is the Abilene Paradox?
The Abilene Paradox is a situation in which a group of people make a decision that's against the general wishes or best interests of its constituent members. Usually, this occurs because individuals wrongly believe that their own preferences are counter to group preferences, so the individual members fail to propose their preference or speak up during the decision making.
Back to: Management & Organizational Behavior
What is Groupthink?
The tendency for members of a group to seek to agree at all costs is called Groupthink. Groupthink is similar to the Abilene Paradox in that members seek conformity and arrive at a suboptimal decision.
The primary difference is that individuals in a GroupThink scenario are not intentionally going against their own interests - rather they are simply seeking conformity for the perceived benefits. In the Abilene Paradox, individuals are actively acting against their interests.
Thus, GroupThink affects the clarity of affectiveness of thought. The Abilene paradox does not affect thought, it is an absence of action.
Academic Research on Abilene Paradox
- The Abilene paradox: The management of agreement, Harvey, J. B. (1988). The Abilene paradox: The management of agreement. Organizational Dynamics, 17(1), 17-43. This paper examines the Abilene Paradox in the management of companies.
- How much do you trust me? The dark side of relational trust in new business creation in established companies, Zahra, S. A., Yavuz, R. I., & Ucbasaran, D. (2006). How much do you trust me? The dark side of relational trust in new business creation in established companies. Entrepreneurship theory and practice, 30(4), 541-559. This paper looks at the negative aspects of implicit trust in the building and management of a new business by established firms.
- Group decision making: The potential for groupthink, Lunenburg, F. C. (2010). Group decision making: The potential for groupthink. International Journal of Management, Business, and Administration, 13(1), 1-6.This paper examines the phenomenon of Groupthink in business administration.
- Paradoxes and prospects of 'public value', Talbot, C. (2011). Paradoxes and prospects of public value. Public Money & Management, 31(1), 27-34. This paper evaluates various business paradoxes through the lens of public value.
- Environmental value chain in green SME networks: the threat of the Abilene paradox, Rizzi, F., Frey, M., Testa, F., & Appolloni, A. (2014). Environmental value chain in green SME networks: the threat of the Abilene paradox. Journal of cleaner production, 85, 265-275. This paper gauges the threat of the Abilene Paradox in the green SME networks.
- The Abilene paradox: The management of agreement, Harvey, J. B. (1988). The Abilene paradox: The management of agreement. Organizational Dynamics, 17(1), 17-43. This book sheds light on the Abilene Paradox, defines, explains, and analyses its effect in organisations.
- Pluralistic ignorance: historical development and organizational applications, Halbesleben, J. R., & Buckley, M. R. (2004). Pluralistic ignorance: historical development and organizational applications. Management Decision, 42(1), 126-138. This paper sheds light on the construct of pluralistic ignorance, its historical development and the impact on organisational studies.
- The impact of group interaction styles on problem-solving effectiveness, Cooke, R. A., & Szumal, J. L. (1994). The impact of group interaction styles on problem-solving effectiveness. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, 30(4), 415-437. This journal analyses the impact of group dynamics, different interaction styles, and their effectiveness in solving problems.
- Project post-mortems mindless mismanagement of agreement, McAvoy, J., & Butler, T. (2009). Project post-mortems mindless mismanagement of agreement. Journal of Decision Systems, 18(1), 53-73. This project sheds light on mindless and mindful decision making and its impact on management of group agreements.