MITIGATING CULTURAL CONSTRAINTS ON GROUP DECISIONS
Kenneth R. Walsh
University of Arizona
Chapter 9 described how image theory characterizes the effects of culture on organizational decision making. The thesis is that a unified culture promotes decisions that are consistent across the organization. A danger of this consistency is that the organization may be unable to adequately address threats and opportunities resulting from changes in its environment. That is, if the appropriate measures are incompatible with the organization's culture, those measures may be rejected out of hand, leaving the organization vulnerable and unable to respond.
The present chapter examines another danger inherent in unified cultures, the danger that good or bad ideas may never arise at all. If ideas (options) are rejected because they are incompatible with the culture, at least they have had their moment in the spotlight and have received some consideration, however minimal. The possibility always exists that their merits for addressing the issue at hand may be recognized and steps be taken to promote changes in the culture to permit their accommodation and adoption.
However, if ideas never even make it to the table, they are unlikely to have any impact at all. It long has been an axiom in group decision making that a large number of options for consideration is better than a small number ( Osborn, 1963). Therefore, in what follows, we examine the effect of culture on what in current parlance is called the "surfacing" of ideas, particularly in group decision tasks. Then we examine the possible benefits of new