Talk:Abilene paradox

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proper logical paradox?[edit]

Doesn't quite sound like a proper logical paradox. Evercat 22:07 May 9, 2003 (UTC)

I agree, but it was on the "paradox" page, so I figured I should at least make a stub for it. user:J.J.

Preferential voting isn't an example at all, right? If the actor has complete knowledge, the Abilene paradox doesn't occur. With perferential voting, we are just seeing an aspect of Arrow's paradox, right? Paullusmagnus

As I read it this example isn't about Arrow's paradox either, it's about a voter who doesn't understand how preferential voting works. Either way, it's not a good Abilene example. Pm67nz
The description sounds more like strategic voting than preferential voting. There is no mention of rank ordering ones preferences. It describes voting for a candidate for strategic reasons even though that is not your preferred candidate. I am going to change it to strategic voting. mydogategodshat 01:30, 10 Mar 2004 (UTC)

which candidate?[edit]

The paradox is sometimes also used as a criticism of the strategic voting. For example, say a person wants to vote for Candidate C, yet realistically realizes that Candidate C will never beat the much more popular Candidates A and B. The person thus votes for Candidate A, a less desirable choice, but the best alternative to Candidate C. The voter has thus committed the Abilene Paradox by performing an action that contradicts his or her preference.

Unless I am confused, I think this should say The person thus votes for Candidate A, a less desirable choice, but the best alternative to Candidate B

Because the person wanted candidate C but preferred A over B so he voted for A, right? Suppafly 04:04, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I've removed this entire from the article, since, as some other users also pointed out above on this talk page, preferential or strategic voting in this case is not an example of the Abilene paradox. This example does not apply because it would only apply if all or a majority of the voters for Candidate A all preferred Candidate C; this is not the case in this example, wherein a single voter prefers Candidate C but votes for Candidate A because Candidate C has no chance of winning. —Lowellian (talk) 00:05, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)
Instead of removing it entirely why didn't we just change the single voter example to a group of voters? Or did each one of us simply think the others wanted it removed... (talk) 22:01, 1 January 2011 (UTC)

Problem with a reference[edit]

The first reference shown (complete list reproduced below) is in error. The title of the article as shown is the same as Harvey's 1988 book, but in fact it should be "The Abilene Paradox: The Management of Agreement." However, when I edit the page to correct the reference, the first reference doesn't appear! So I'm stymied.

Here is how the references appear now:

^ Harvey, Jerry B. (Summer 1974). "The Abilene Paradox and other Meditations on Management". Organizational Dynamics 3 (1). Harvey, Jerry B. (1988). The Abilene Paradox and Other Meditations on Management. Lexington, Mass: Lexington Books. Harvey, Jerry B. (1999). How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed In The Back, My Fingerprints Are on The Knife?. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from ""

Which researchers found what when?[edit]

"Researchers in this field have proposed various means by which groups can avoid such dysfunctional behavior. None have proven more effective than the inclusion of people with diverse backgrounds in the decision-making process. Groups so comprised tend to be more effective in avoiding the Abilene Paradox and tend to be able to make much better decisions overall."

Sounds nice. Supports the intuition that diverse backgrounds can be helpful. Any evidence? Where? If it's mentioned in the references linked for the article as a whole, shouldn't we hunt down the primary sources and cite them directly? -Dmh 18:04, 26 April 2007 (UTC)

I don't know, but it's easy for me to accept that group dynamics aren't immutable, but are a function of culture. For example, if my wife's Caribbean relatives were in that Abilene situation I'm sure one of them would respond, "You mad, man! Me, I not going to that damn hot place!" And that would be that. -Steve Foerster 02:18, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

A theory of how artificial intelligence could make the Abilene paradox happen less often[edit]

Coherent Extrapolated Volition —Preceding unsigned comment added by BenRayfield (talkcontribs) 05:19, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 03:42, 10 November 2007 (UTC)


I'm not an expert here, but I'm finding some sources. I'd say it's beyond neologism, even though the referrals I've seen to it hark back directly to Harvey's story, rather than using it as known shorthand.

  • "The Frequency of Self-Limiting Behavior in Groups: A Measure and an Explanation", JF Veigal, Human Relations, 1991 -- even uses "Abilene paradox" as a keyword for the article.
  • "Knowledge and Theory Development in Public Administration: The Role of Doctoral Education and Research", Jay D. White, Guy B. Adams and John P. Forrester, Public Administration Review, Vol. 56, No. 5 (Sep. - Oct., 1996), pp. 441-452 -- they use it as a possible explanation for crappy dissertations being approved.
  • "Resisting the change to user stories: a trip to Abilene", John McAvoy and Tom Butler, International Journal of Information Systems and Change Management, Volume 1, Number 1 / 2006, pp 48-61 -- again, "Abilene paradox" is used as a key word, and is a major aspect of their analysis.

That's just a few of the references I found, and I was only looking for academic-style reference, not in newspapers or business magazines. I'm not ready to integrate these refs into the article myself, but I'm convinced it's not (anymore) a neologism. Cretog8 (talk) 01:06, 15 June 2008 (UTC)

I've retagged it under notability. There really needs to be better citation to demonstrate that this is a term that is used other than just in/near Abilene for inclusion here. There just may be enough citations, but I don't see them, and they are not used within the article. PHARMBOY (TALK) 12:23, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Its use really has little to do with Abilene, so I doubt the proximity to Abiline matters. Anyway, there's a couple references above to work from if anyone gets to it before I do. There were certainly other refs as well when I went searching. Cretog8 (talk) 17:13, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

Move to project namespace if (still) not notable enough[edit]

It's actually useful for explaining certain concepts about consensus. :-) --Kim Bruning (talk) 15:52, 28 June 2008 (UTC)

I've heard about and used the Abilene Paradox for two decades in the context of how groups of people can make poor decisions and the pitfalls of "white lies." I wish I had some time to research and contribute more to this entry, but I just don't at the moment. I hope this is not deleted. --Condorman (talk) 05:52, 8 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm not involved in the orginal article at all, but i'm having to read some stuff about this 'paradox' for another project, so give me a month or so and i'll ad some references to this article to other people's use of the phrase, its supposed difference from groupthink and so on [jon m 9 Sept 2008].

  • Please do, there are a lot of problems with this article that need addressing. It is bordering on AFD as it is. PHARMBOY (TALK) 10:57, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

I just thought I would mention that I, for one, stumbled across this page and found it really interesting. I hope that the notability warning at the top of the page doesn't mean it's going to be deleted. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:34, 10 October 2008 (UTC)

You'd have to look pretty far to find a social psychologist who wasn't familiar with this phenomenon. All the refs here are by Harvey, which might make it look like a vanity article, but that's not the case (at least, as far as I know). A few direct refs by others:

McAvoy, J., & Butler, T. (2007). The impact of the abilene paradox on double-loop learning in an agile team. Information and Software Technology, 49(6), 552-563. Donnelly, G. F. (2005). Avoiding the abilene paradox in holistic nursing practice. Holistic Nursing Practice., 19(5), 193. Stephan, S. (2001). Decision-making in incident control teams. Journal of Occupational Health and Safety - Australia and New Zealand, 17(2), 135-145.

The article definitely needs cleanup, but an AFD on this would be just that side of silly. --Sneftel (talk) 20:10, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

  • If the sources are valid, add to the article, not to the talk page. PHARMBOY (TALK) 21:58, 20 October 2008 (UTC)

Abilene the movie[edit]

Coming from the article "This anecdote was also made into a short film for management education. [citation needed]", for this moment we couldn't find a proper external link for the existence of the DVD other then the website selling it, if you know one, please add it. Part of the discussion can be found on User talk:Pharmboy. Mion (talk) 20:34, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
I will likely archive that talk pretty soon. I added that line back and tagged it solely because we both know the DVD does exist. If there was any doubt it existed, then I wouldn't have. This is what tags are for anyway. I will dig up a better source later on, or maybe someone else who sees it will. PHARMBOY (TALK) 23:00, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
So far only the web description of the DVD is spotted in the wild and little proof of its existence, but you believe in it, so give it a go. Cheers Mion (talk) 23:15, 22 October 2008 (UTC)
One thing I have learned in my 2+ years here is that there are a lot of other places to find sources than a regular Google search. I still get humbled in AFDs with that from time to time. I *know* there exists sources: here are a couple of examples of references, including the actual video itself, and I never had to change search engines. ;) You can add them if you want, or i will do a deeper search later and get better ones. This is one of the few times when linking to a youtube video is appropriate, as it is the exact subject and isn't being used for verification. PHARMBOY (TALK) 23:33, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

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Abilene paradox v. groupthink[edit]

Hi. The text was changed yesterday to suggest that the Abilene paradox is a form of groupthink, but unfortunately the changes contradict the sources used. Sims book, cited in the article, clearly distinguishes (at length) the Abilene paradox from groupthink ("Like Harvey's Abilene theory" p. 53; "The more famous of the two obstacles, groupthink, bears some superficial similarities to the Abilene paradox" p. 54; "groupthink can be distinguished from the Abilene paradox on four different levels" p. 55; "although there are similarities between these two obstacles to qualify group decisions, the two are distinguishable because [reasons recounted]...." p.57)

In the absence of supporting sources, the change to suggest that the Abilene paradox is a subset of groupthink is an issue under both WP:V and WP:NOR.

However, given the confusion, it seems pretty evident that more time needs to be spent explaining why Sims says the Abilene paradox is not groupthink. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 11:45, 9 January 2014 (UTC)

Hi. Thanks for helping improve the article. Would you be open to considering restoring the external link to the blacklisted webpage. The webpage is only used in the 'External links' section (and nowhere else) in the article. In my view the webpage provides a highly educational, informative and insightful practical example of the Abilene paradox. This practical example is also fun and entertaining to read. In my view, restoring the external link would not damage the article in any way and would only help improve and strengthen the article. Thanks and warm regards, IjonTichy (talk) 20:40, 9 January 2014 (UTC)