Victoria University

William H. Whyte Jr.: How the creator of 'groupthink' was forgotten, and why it matters

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dc.contributor.advisor Bridgman , Todd Pol, Oliver 2020-10-06T23:44:18Z 2020-10-06T23:44:18Z 2020 2020
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines the presentation of management theories in textbooks, focusing on groupthink as an indicative case. The groupthink theory warns that positive consensus leads to the exclusion of other ideas, with potentially disastrous results. It is credited to the psychologist Irving Janis, but William H. Whyte Jr. used the phrase groupthink in 1952, nineteen years before Janis’ first usage. I ask how this happened - why do most textbooks credit Janis if he did not create the term? To answer this, the study takes a critical view of management’s dissemination of knowledge. A critical study acknowledges that all knowledge is subjective, and no interpretation can precisely represent the past. The primary method was the collection historical data primarily composed of textbooks, academic studies, and journal articles. This data represents the primary work of Whyte and Janis regarding groupthink, and their representation elsewhere. This allows for the construction of a ‘counter-history’ to the accepted version of history where Janis is groupthink’s creator. My findings demonstrate a clear shift within management history, discovering early evidence of Whyte’s groupthink being embraced by prominent writers, followed by a gradual marginalisation of Whyte’s contribution. This was due in part to Janis’ sudden popularity but it is evident that management studies deliberately moved away from questions of conformity asked by Whyte and peers in the 1950s. I also found that Whyte himself moved away from the groupthink terminology, rebadging the same concept as ‘the organization man’. These findings contribute a new case study to the field of management literature calling for the importance of directly embracing history. It also makes a case for textbooks as a study’s primary form of data. Future research can further explore the extent of the continued relevance of William H. Whyte’s ideas in a modern context. en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.language.iso en
dc.publisher Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject management education en_NZ
dc.subject management history en_NZ
dc.subject William H. Whyte en_NZ
dc.subject Irving Janis en_NZ
dc.subject groupthink en_NZ
dc.subject human relations en_NZ
dc.subject organisational behavior en_NZ
dc.subject critical management studies en_NZ
dc.subject organization man en_NZ
dc.title William H. Whyte Jr.: How the creator of 'groupthink' was forgotten, and why it matters en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit School of Management : Te Kura Whakahaere en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Research Masters Thesis en_NZ Management en_NZ History en_NZ Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ Masters en_NZ Master of Commerce en_NZ
dc.rights.license Author Retains Copyright en_NZ 2020-10-06T17:46:44Z
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 150310 Organisation and Management Theory en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 150311 Organisational Behaviour en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 210399 Historical Studies not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcseo 939999 Education and Training not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcseo 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcseo 970115 Expanding Knowledge in Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrctoa 1 PURE BASIC RESEARCH en_NZ

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