Isolated from public opinion

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Week after week we read criticism in the letters pages and articles of our local papers that Arun District Council has isolated itself from public opinion in its decision-making.

I recently came across this description of Groupthink by William H Whyte Jr, who coined the term in March 1952, in Fortune magazine.

Perhaps it will help us all to better understand the corporate culture that prevails at Arun District Council.

“Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people, in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative ideas or viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences. Loyalty to the group requires individuals to avoid raising controversial issues or alternative solutions, and there is loss of individual creativity, uniqueness and independent thinking.

“The dysfunctional group dynamics of the ‘ingroup’ produces an ‘illusion of invulnerability’ (an inflated certainty that the right decision has been made). Thus the ‘ingroup’ significantly overrates their own abilities in decision-making, and significantly underrates the abilities of their opponents (the ‘outgroup’).”

The term ‘outgroup’ can be interpreted in many ways but, in this instance, I think that we the public can be considered to be the ‘outgroup’.

Tony Dixon

Barons Close