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Unformatted text preview: nomic performance (Papadakis, 1998;
Bourgeois, 1985). Child (1974) was among the first to propose that homogeneity
among the members of the top management team as to the objectives contributes to
higher performance (Papadakis, 1998). Similarly, Bourgeois (1981) argued that the
organisational slack generated by business success functions as a source of conflict
resolution. Since when a company is on a “winning track” (Papadakis, 1998) everyone prefers to be associated with the winner and there is less place for political
activities and long debates over goals and priorities (Dess, 1987). A number of
empirical studies have confirmed the existence of a positive relationship between
organisational performance and consensus. For example, Eisenhardt and Bourgeois
conducted several studies on decision-making in dynamic environments. The results
from one of their studies suggested that political behaviour within top management
teams leads to poor organisational performance (Eisenhardt and Bourgeois, 1988).
However, the majority of studies in this area have been conducted in the laboratory,
where environmental forces are not an issue, and the few field studies that have been
carried out have not attempted to assess actual decision outcomes (Schweiger et al.,
1986). The exception is Dean and Sharfman’s 1996 study of twenty-four companies
in sixteen industries, which provided an indication that the decision process that was
followed influenced the decision-making effectiveness. Unlike earlier studies, the
researchers included environmental factors and the quality of implementation of the
decision in their model. One of their main findings was that managers who engaged
in the use of power or pushed hidden agendas were less effective than were those who
did not. Other studies by Janis (1989), Ford (1989) and Nutt (1993) have all indicated
a link between politics and unsuccessful decisions.
35 However, conversely, some researchers have provided evidence that too much
internal consensus may be dysfunctional. For example, Whitney and Smith (1983)
argued that an emphasis on organisational or management consensus could reduce
individuals’ receptivity to information that contradicts the views of the dominant
coalition despite the fact that such information may be vital for the quality of the final
decision. Thus, the pressure for consensus postulated by normative methods to decision-making may produce negative results (Papadakis, 1998). Investigating the
performance-consensus relationship, Grinyer and Norburn (1977-78) found that the
highest performing firms experienced a negative correlation between performance and
consensus. Thus they hypothesised that high levels of cohesiveness may be dysfunctional, and that some disagreement among members of the top management
team may be an internal strength related to superior performance (Papadakis, 1998).
Langley (1995) also warned that when everyone in power instinctively shares the
same opinion on an issue, the wise manager should be wary. Unanimity, she writes, is
unlikely to lead to an objective evaluation of optio...
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This document was uploaded on 03/30/2014.
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