Case Incident 1
The Calamities of Consensus
When it is time for groups to reach a decision, many turn to consensus. Consensus, a situation of
agreement, seems like a good idea. To achieve consensus, groups must cooperate and
collaborate, which ultimately will produce higher levels of camaraderie and trust. In addition, if
everyone agrees, then the prevailing wisdom is that everyone will be more committed to the
However, there are times when the need for consensus can be detrimental to group functioning.
Consider the recent “fiscal cliff” faced by the U.S. government toward the end of 2012. The
White House and Congress needed to reach a deal that would reduce the swelling budget deficit.
However, many Republicans and Democrats stuck to their party lines, refusing to compromise.
Many viewed the end product that achieved consensus as a less than optimal solution. The public
gave Congress an approval rating of only 13 percent, expressing frustration with the lack of