Group-sharing, not Groupthink: Understanding Foreign Policy Decision-Making through a Social Sharedness Approach

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The concept of groupthink has dominated much of the group research in FPA. However, groupthinks success and proliferation in academic and popular circles has led to some general misinterpretations of the concept itself. While Janis’ groupthink concept has received a wide amount of attention throughout the years, it has also been subject to various strands of criticism. In fact, groupthink’s broad popularity has not been based on the success of research findings. Also, groupthink contests much of the research of social psychology undertaken in recent decades and which reveals that particular group dynamics can actually contribute to more efficient decision-making. In this paper we seek to demystify the groupthink phenomenon and present an alternative assessment of group dynamics in foreign policy decision-making. We argue in favour of adopting a social cognition approach which can advance our understanding of how decision-making groups define the particular challenges that they face in the international political environment. More precisely, we present a conceptual framework based on social sharing mechanisms for comprehending how groups develop the problem representations that inform their foreign policy decisions. Ultimately, we seek to highlight the positive contributions of group dynamics in effective decision-making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31
Number of pages53
JournalPerspectivas – Journal of Political Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Decision making
  • Groupthink
  • Social Sharing
  • Foreign Policy


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