The Polythink Syndrome: U.S. Foreign Policy Decisions on by Alex Mintz, Carly Wayne

By Alex Mintz, Carly Wayne

Why do presidents and their advisors usually make sub-optimal judgements on army intervention, escalation, de-escalation, and termination of conflicts?

The top suggestion of staff dynamics, groupthink, deals one rationalization: policy-making teams make sub-optimal judgements as a result of their hope for conformity and uniformity over dissent, resulting in a failure to think about different correct percentages. yet presidential advisory teams are frequently fragmented and divisive. This publication accordingly scrutinizes polythink, a gaggle decision-making dynamic wherein various individuals in a decision-making unit espouse a plurality of evaluations and divergent coverage prescriptions, leading to a disjointed decision-making procedure or perhaps selection paralysis.

The booklet analyzes 11 nationwide protection judgements, together with the nationwide safeguard coverage designed sooner than the terrorist assaults of Sep 11, the choices to go into into and withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2007 "surge" selection, the trouble over the Iranian nuclear application, the UN protection Council choice at the Syrian Civil struggle, the faltering Kerry Peace approach within the center East, and the U.S. selection on army operations opposed to ISIS.

Based at the research of those case reports, the authors tackle implications of the polythink phenomenon, together with prescriptions for fending off and/or overcoming it, and enhance suggestions and instruments for what they name Productive Polythink. The authors additionally convey the applicability of polythink to enterprise, undefined, and daily decisions.



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Additional info for The Polythink Syndrome: U.S. Foreign Policy Decisions on 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and ISIS

Example text

The sheer level of dissension in a Polythink group may create a situation in which it becomes virtually impossible for group members to reach a common interpretation of reality and common policy goals. As a result, Polythink can often lead to sub-optimal or even bad decisions. Polythink can also lead to paralysis and inaction. In other words, big plans and programs may be paralyzed because of disagreements within the decision-making unit. Polythink characterizes many decision units and contributes to shaping the review of policy options and policy decisions.

The word “Polythink” is derived from the word “poly,” meaning “many” ways of perceiving the same decision problem, goals, or solutions (Mintz, Mishal, and Morag 2005). Polythink is essentially the presence of disagreement and dissent within the group making the decision. It can be contrasted with the homogeneous, uniform, monolithic viewpoint of groups characterized by Groupthink. The sheer level of dissension in a Polythink group may create a situation in which it becomes virtually impossible for group members to reach a common interpretation of reality and common policy goals.

This is due to intra-group conflict, leaks, confusion, framing, counter-framing, and other symptoms of Polythink. 6 Can Polythink Be Beneficial? The Productive Polythink Dynamic As we have seen, Destructive Polythink often leads to decision paralysis and poor decisions. However, under what conditions might Polythink result in good decisions? In other words, how can Polythink be beneficial? Political leaders, business executives, managers, and other group leaders can benefit from Polythink if they can positively leverage the plurality of opinions presented to them in a group setting en route to forming a decision.

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