Groupthink as a Organizational Communication Theory

History and Orientation

Groupthink, which is an important theory that determines group decision-making processes, was first put into action by Irving Janis in 1972 and 1982. The idea behind this theory is the prioritization of group solidarity and cohesiveness at the expense of considering important facts in a reasonable manner. In the 1930s, the group’s cohesiveness that resulted in groupthink was first discussed by Kurt Lewis.

Core assumptions and statements

When the group is highly cohesive, is headed by a directive leader who is open to reveal his opinions when assigning duties to members of the group, and is isolated from the contrary viewpoint within the organization, groupthink is likely to occur. Groupthink might have several negative incomes that include discussion of few alternatives, may fail to seek opinions from experts, there may be no critical analysis of solutions to problems, do not consider dissent opinions and maybe selective in attending to and collecting information. The objective of this theory is to detect the detrimental effects of groupthink in decision-making processes. The major modalities of minimizing the negative effects of groupthink are to develop independent groups, invite new members into the group, barring the group leader from stating his opinions or preference before the group embarks in a given task, encourage every member of the group to evaluate the objectives and outcomes of the group, and subdivide the group into smaller divisions.

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Scope and application

Groupthink is essential in decision making processes and minimizing the negative impacts of isolated and cohesive groups.

A diagram showing groupthink


Adaptive structuration theory

History and Orientation

This theory is adopted from the structuration theory by Anthony Giddens. Adaptive structuration theory was adopted by Poole and DeSanctis to learn more about the interaction of organizations and groups with information technology (IT). The theory stresses on the social aspects of technology use and criticizes its technocentric use. According to this theory, organizations and groups that utilize information technology in their activities create a perception about its functions and utility. The perception determines how technology is used and how the derived outcome impact on the group.

Core assumptions and statements

Adaptive structuration theory is a sustainable methodology of learning the role and essence of IT in bringing about change effects in the organization. It analyses the change processes from two view points; structured offers by advanced technologies and structures that emanate from the actions of human beings when they interact with the advanced technologies. According to this theory, organizations and groups are the systems, which are developed by people’s actions. The dual relationship between systems and structures result in the structuration process.

Scope and application

Adaptive structuration theory could be utilized to scrutinize the occurrence of a range of innovations such as the internet, electricity and telephone. It highlights how the structures of these innovations entered into the societies, how they influenced them and how their social settings in turn modify and influence the original intention of the innovations.

Below is a chart showing how Adaptive structuration theory works

Enactment theory

According to Weick(1988), enactment stands for the concept that people’s actions bring the existence of events and structure that are set into actions.

Core assumptions and statements

This theory holds that organizations and individuals are in a continuous self-formation process. Within the organization, employees from themselves. There are two ways in which the formation occurs. These are the enactment of interaction cycles that result in stability and establishment of rules to govern the necessary behaviors. This theory offers the ground for differentiating between routine and strategic behavior.

Scope and application

This model is vital in identifying organization structure. Appropriate factors for research are organizations, interpersonal and groups. Further, communication structure can be analyzed since its an essential predictor of informal networks in the organization.

A chart showing how enactment theory works



Since 1972, the theory of sense-making has been under development and has had complex definitions. It is based on three assumptions with a basis of communication practice. The three assumptions state that there is a high probability that communication systems and practices can be designed and developed to be sensitive to the needs of human beings, it is possible that communication repertoires can be enlarged by human beings in the pursuit of their ambitions and visions and development of the approaches of communication based methodology can be used to realize effective outcomes.

Core assumptions and statements

Basically, sensemaking is a thinking approach that emphasizes on the execution of communication practice and research and developing communication-based activities and systems. The seven aspects that define sense-making are sensitive and enactive environments, it is grounded on identity construction, it is a continuous process, it is a social process, it is driven by plausibility, it is retrospective and focuses on extracted cues.

Scope and application

This theory can be utilized to study and analyze information seeking and use strategies in work environment. Further, it can be used to study sensitive matters in the society such as sexism, racism and can be applied in important studies such as media and nursing practice.


A diagram offering an example of the application of sense-making

Sensemaking Cycle

Attraction-selection-attrition framework


According to the theory framed by Schneider (1987), people determine all aspects of the organization that include practices, climate and culture. According to Schneider (1995), this theory, which is closely related to psychology and part of the socialization process, emphasizes on the fact that people are responsible for the organizational processes, culture, and structure.

Core assumption and statements

The attributes exhibited by people are the major organizations’ behavioral attributes. As such, the functioning of the cycle of attraction-selection-attrition incorporates people and their inputs. Attraction involves luring people to careers that fulfill their interest, selection entails the organization choosing people whom it feels are qualified and able to undertake a specified task while attrition is the process where people leave the organization due to several factors and leave a homogenous group that stays longer in the organization than those who were initially attracted by its overtures.

Scope and application

This model applies well in the quest of comprehending the organization and its structure. The theory is essential in analyzing the organization’s common thoughts and is critical in the contemporary situational models of workplaces and organizations.

A diagram showing the application of Attraction-selection-attrition framework

From the analysis of organizational communication theories, the most important theory is the groupthink. Groupthink aims at detecting group consensus seeking tendencies and attain solution of how to deal with the negative effects of cohesive and isolated groups. Groups are an important aspect of organization success as it is through teamwork that different opinions are pooled together in orders to reach an amicable resolution towards a given issue. Understanding groupthink is useful as it will assist in developing strategies that will counter negative group think and enhance positive decision-making processes. Through understanding of groupthink, one will be in a position to eradicate its detrimental effects through setting up of independent groups that will handle  similar problems, develop subgroups from the group, develop, rules  and strategies that prohibit group leaders from providing their viewpoint when allocating duties to a specific group or members of the group and enabling outside members to participate in part of the activities undertaken by the group.

Work Cited

The University of Twente. Organizational communication.2013.web.4 Dec,2013.  mmunication/













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