The Rise of the New Groupthink –

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The Rise of the New Groupthink –

I’ve long suspected that many (if not most) people who insist on groupwork for everything do so because they can’t really produce anything on their own.

Working in groups is great and necessary, but it really is important for people to be able to work alone too. When teaching a course, I usually try and make sure that students do both: work in groups AND work alone. Also, make sure they don’t always have the same people in their groups.

When it comes to assessing published works (non-fiction), watch out for:

  • authors who ALWAYS publish alone – it often implies they don’t play well with others (i.e. can’t get along with other people; don’t know how to share; unpleasant, dishonest or worse)
  • authors who NEVER publish alone – this often implies that they can’t actually do anything (i.e. they are riding on the coattails of others)
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The Rise of the New Groupthink – — 3 Comments

  1. I came across your blog while researching material for my ethics of communication class. Your first sentence really made me laugh and ponder the irony of groups. As what seems like a lifetime in school, this statement rings true. When the teacher says “work in groups,” there are the inevitable factors. This week, my class has been studying John Gastil and Leah Sprain’s, Ethical Challenges in Small Group Communication, who acknowledge that “Janis (1982) cemented the popular understanding of groupthink,” (Cheney, May, & Munshi, 2011, p. 158); however, the groupthink can be flawed even with the most capable executives. Why? The group’s conversation could go awry if the discussion is exposed to the wrong circumstances. Janis believed that neglecting external circumstances could cause the group to break away from reality. For a group to truly succeed, every member would need to participate, as we have already established. The group needs to stay in touch with rather than creating “excessive optimism” and encouraging risk taking (Johannesen, Valde, & Whedbee, 2008, p. 152). After studying cases like Pearl Harbor and The Bay of Pigs, Janis formed 8 total symptoms that could be seen as “ethical guidelines, “to groupthink. These range from ignoring moral consequences to doubts not expressed to the group members. This does not mean that every group choosing to break external ties is always unsuccessful. There are people who chose to join a group as a refuge from the outside world.
    Thank you for your blog,
    Communications Graduate Student

    Cheney, G., May, S., & Munshi, D. (2011). The handbook of communication ethics. New York, NY: Routledge.
    Johannesen, R. L., Valde, K. S., & Whedbee, K. E. (2008). Ethics in communication. (6th ed.). Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press, Inc.

  2. In some fields, it is almost impossible to publish alone, because a lot of hands are needed in the lab and they all get author credit. Often only theory papers are single-author.

    There are more charitable (and more often correct) explanations for theoreticians publishing alone and experimentalists publishing in groups.

    • I will grant that there are some fields where publishing alone is rare: medicine for example. Medicine may be unique in its willingness to credit everyone that contributed and author lists can be very long. This sort of thing is very rare in science though where far more often than not I find authors who are selfish and greedy. I know far too many who insist on putting their name (often first) on anything that comes out of their lab, whether they did any work on it or not. I do not believe that supplying funding for research grants you the right to add your name to resultant publications.

      I suppose that a discipline like philosophy might include legitimate authors who rarely publish with anyone else, but even here I would question anyone who NEVER publishes with anyone.

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