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The Abilene Paradox and Other Meditations on Management

Book Description

Faulty decision-making can have dire consequences, and when it comes to group decisions, the challenges are even greater. Join Dr. Jerry B. Harvey as he clearly illustrates why no organization wants to find themselves goin' to Abilene.

See how group dynamics can keep individuals from stating their true beliefs for fear of isolation and separation, and how that often leads to mismanaged agreement.

You'll learn to recognize the warning signs of risky group dynamics and improve decision-making processes throughout your organization.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. Acknowledgments
  3. 1. Introduction
  4. 2. The Abilene Paradox: The Management of Agreement
    1. 2.1. Symptoms of the Paradox
    2. 2.2. Other Trips to Abilene
      1. 2.2.1. Case 1: The Boardroom
      2. 2.2.2. Case 2: Watergate
    3. 2.3. Analyzing the Paradox
      1. 2.3.1. Action Anxiety
      2. 2.3.2. Negative Fantasies
      3. 2.3.3. Real Risk
      4. 2.3.4. Fear of Separation
      5. 2.3.5. The Psychological Reversal of Risk and Certainty
    4. 2.4. A Possible Abilene Bypass
    5. 2.5. Real Conflict and Phony Conflict
    6. 2.6. Group Tyranny and Conformity
    7. 2.7. Diagnosing the Paradox
    8. 2.8. Coping with the Paradox
    9. 2.9. The Abilene Paradox and the Myth of Sisyphus
  5. 3. Organizations as Phrog Farms
    1. 3.1. Phrog Farms
    2. 3.2. Alternatives to Life on the Phrog Farm
  6. 4. Management and the Myth of Abraham: or, Go Plant a Cabbage on God's Behalf
    1. 4.1. The Story of Abraham and Isaac
    2. 4.2. The Neighbor's Sacrifice
    3. 4.3. Sacrifice at Work
    4. 4.4. The Theology of Abraham at Work
  7. 5. Captain Asoh and the Concept of Grace
    1. 5.1. The Captain Asoh Story
    2. 5.2. Asoh Told the Truth, and We Are Starved for It
    3. 5.3. He Had a Sense of Humor and a Capacity to Expose Obvious Absurdity
    4. 5.4. He Took Responsibility for His Own Actions but Not for the Actions of Others
    5. 5.5. Captain Asoh Provided Us with the Opportunity to Meet Our Need to Express Altruism
    6. 5.6. Captain Asoh Opened the Opportunity for Organizational Grace
  8. 6. Eichmann in the Organization
    1. 6.1. The Story's Impact on Me
    2. 6.2. Organizational Murder
      1. 6.2.1. Consenting Parties Who Play Predetermined Roles
      2. 6.2.2. Thought Patterns That Facilitate Complicity
    3. 6.3. Getting Eichmann out of the Organization
      1. 6.3.1. The Dynamics That Lead to Collusion with Evil
      2. 6.3.2. Possible Remedies
  9. 7. Group Tyranny and the Gunsmoke Phenomenon
    1. 7.1. The Gunsmoke Phenomenon as a Useful Myth
    2. 7.2. Existential Risk
    3. 7.3. Making the Choice
  10. 8. Encouraging Future Managers to Cheat
    1. 8.1. Practical Consequences of Our Definition of Cheating
      1. 8.1.1. It Provides a Lousy Model for How Work Really Gets Done
      2. 8.1.2. It Thwarts the Expression of Altruism
      3. 8.1.3. It Causes Anaclitic Depression
    2. 8.2. A New Definition of Cheating
    3. 8.3. Reactions
      1. 8.3.1. Student Reaction
      2. 8.3.2. Faculty Reaction
      3. 8.3.3. The Contrast between Student Desire and Faculty Belief
    4. 8.4. Redefining the Purpose of an Examination
    5. 8.5. The Bottom Line
    6. 8.6. Rays of Hope
  11. Notes
  12. Selected Readings
    1. Chapter 1 — Introduction
    2. Chapter 2 — The Abilene Paradox: The Management of Agreement
    3. Chapter 3 — Organizations as Phrog Farms
    4. Chapter 4 — Management and the Myth of Abraham; or, Go Plant a Cabbage on God's Behalf
    5. Chapter 5 — Captain Asoh and the Concept of Grace
    6. Chapter 6 — Eichmann in the Organization
    7. Chapter 7 — Group Tyranny and the Gunsmoke Phenomenon
    8. Chapter 8 — Encouraging Future Managers to Cheat
  13. About the Author