Communication and Team Decision Making Assignment | homework help websites

Communication and Team Decision Making

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Part 1: Sharpening the Team Mind: Communication and Collective Intelligence

  1. What are some of the possible biases and points of error that may arise in team communication systems? In addition to those cited in the opening of Chapter 6, what are some other examples of how team communication problems can lead to disaster?
  2. Revisit communication failure examples in Exhibit 6-1. Identify the possible causes of communication or decision-making failure in each example, and, drawing on the information presented in the chapter, discuss measures that might have prevented problems from arising within each team’s communication system.

Part 2: Team Decision-Making: Pitfalls and Solutions

  1. What are the key symptoms of groupthink? What problems and shortcomings can arise in the decision-making process as a result of groupthink?B.    Do you think that individuals or groups are better decision-makers? Justify your choice. In what situations would individuals be more effective decision-makers than groups, and in what situations would group be better than individuals?


Part 1


Message distortion proves to be one of the most common biases that can arise in team communication systems. According to Schwarz (2014), message senders often adopt the point of view held by the receiver and they distort the messages in a specific manner that does not ensure productive communication. Receivers often hear what they wish to especially when they deal with ambiguous messages. They selectively pay attention to a specific part of the message that they favor the most and this gives rise to biased interpretations.

Team communication problems can lead to a lot of conflict in the long run especially because teams have to work in a collaborative manner to achieve the completion of tasks. Miscommunication can divert teams in the wrong direction and they end up wasting significant amounts of time. Productivity levels go down horribly and it becomes impossible for the teams to stick by the deadlines. Most of the productive hours are lost in clarifying the biases and errors in communication.


President Kennedy’s advisors affirmed the decision to initiate the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. The authorities had information that the venture might lead to a terrible chaos and even defeat for the United States of America but they chose to go against the available knowledge. In the words of Kornbluh (1998), the venture was not only unsuccessful but it also damaged the country’s relation with other nations. Not participating in groupthink could have prevented the authorities from taking such a rash decision. They failed to take the consequences into account and also many authorities went with the flow instead of speculating the matter further.

President’s Johnson’s close advisors supported the decision to escalate the war in Vietnam. Intelligence reports along with information suggested that such actions would not help in defeating the Viet Cong. The outcomes were that the United States faced unfavourable political consequences leading to disturbing relationships with other countries. The authorities had overplayed their position and the decision was purely born out of an overestimation which ended up making the country suffer indiscriminately. If the authorities had not been blind to the limitations and complicated situations that existed such circumstances would have never arrived.   


Part 2


There are several symptoms that arrive with groupthink. Overestimation of the group proves to be one of the central characteristics.  Members in the group consider themselves invulnerable and morally correct at the same instance (Janis, 1982). The deadly combination makes the group believe that it is above standards. Close-mindedness is another daunting symptom that group members participate in. They engage in collective rationalization and often stereotype group members. This forces the remaining members to go with the flow.

As a result of groupthink members often engage in an incomplete survey of alternatives. They fail to realize the objectives a company might have. They do not reexamine alternatives in a given situation which ultimately creates a lapse in judgment. They also develop a selection bias that forces other members towards conformity. Poor information search follows and there are often no contingency plans. All of these shortcomings can be avoided if members do not single out employees who suggest something different, other than what the group follows.


Individuals are better decision makers in multiple situations. Whenever companies hand out responsibilities to groups the time required to reach conformity is usually much higher than what the company can afford (Duncan, 1973). The members can also develop personal friction with each other that sabotages the process. If the decision taken does not prove to be effective the members often end up pointing fingers and almost no individual takes complete responsibility. Most of the time gets spent on blaming and the organization remains unable to take swift actions.

When organizations have the time to take any action they must allow groups to control the decision-making process. If decisions are complicated and require the expertise of many members authorities will find a better solution if they employ groups to undertake the task. However at instances when there are emergencies and the company cannot afford to waste time, individual decision-making processes work best. The company acts according to the direction of one particular worker and that every individual takes responsibility for all outcomes.




Duncan, R. B. (1973). Multiple Decision-making Structures in Adapting to Environmental Uncertainty: The Impact on Organizational Effectiveness. Human Relations, 26(3), 273-291.

Janis, I. L. (1982). Groupthink: Psychological studies of policy decisions and fiascoes (Vol. 349). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Kornbluh, P. (Ed.). (1998). Bay of Pigs Declassified: The secret CIA report on the invasion of Cuba. New York: New Press.

Schwarz, N. (2014). Cognition and communication: Judgmental biases, research methods, and the logic of conversation. Psychology Press.


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