Underlying Causes of the Abilene Paradox

Abilene Paradox
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Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Underlying Causes of the Abilene Paradox

One of the underlying causes of the Abilene Paradox is CONFORMITY, which refers to behavioral change resulting from real or imagined group pressures. Indeed, such pressures are likely to move groups or individuals in another direction than the one they really desire. Therefore, it is important to get a better understanding of conformity. Conformity basically consists of three levels:
  • COMPLIANCE: this refers to the act of behaving according to the desires of the group – due to social pressures – while personally disagreeing.
  • OBEDIENCE: this refers to behavioral change resulting from pressures from authorities.
  • ACCEPTANCE: this refers to the act of behaving according to group desires AND personally agreeing with this behavior.
All of these 3 levels have in common that there is a coercive effect of group pressures that influence individual behavior; a loss of individual’s distinctiveness in groups.
Harvey, J.B. (1988) “The Abilene Paradox: The Management of Agreement” Organizational Dynamics, pp 17-43
Powerpoint “Social Influence: Conformity”

⇒ Do you know of additional factors contributing to the Abilene Paradox?


Anneke Zwart
Student (University), Netherlands

Factors Causes of the Abilene Paradox

Two important factors that influence the degree of conformity, obedience and compliance and as a res... Sign up

Maria Elena Hoffmann
Management Consultant, Venezuela

Abilene Paradox

I enjoyed reading your explanation about Abilene, agreeing with you. Call my attention "acceptance" ... Sign up


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