Abilene Paradox

Many years ago, Professor Jerry B. Harvey’s research showed him that the fundamental problem of contemporary organizations is not conflict, but rather the inability to cope with agreement. He found that most agreement in teams is actually false consensus. This occurs because many people feel that they’ll be ridiculed or censured if they voice objections. This often leads groups to act on inappropriate goals and sets them up for organizational failure.[1]

In an Abilene paradox a group of people collectively decide on a course of action that is counter to the preferences of many (or all) of the individuals in the group. It involves a common breakdown of group communication in which each member mistakenly believes that their own preferences are counter to the group's and, therefore, does not raise objections. A common phrase relating to the Abilene Paradox is a desire not to "rock the boat." This differs from groupthink in that the Abilene paradox is characterized by an inability to manage agreement.[2]


  1. Defining Abiliene Paradox The Abilene Paradox
  2. What is Abilience Paradox Wikipedia

Further Reading