Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Abilene Paradox and Groupthink at the National Assembly?

Dear Journalists, 
Former Ambassador Adolfo Taylhardat wrote in his columm Cinismo that Hugo Chavez’s officials seemed to had delayed the news of his death similar  to what took place with dictators Juan Vicente Gomez, and Joseph Stalin. Ambassador Taylhardat accuses the officials as cynics.
Personally, I am concerned about the behavior of the legislators at the National Assembly that seem to have fallen in to the Abilene Paradox and the infamous Groupthink.
Journalist Ezequiel Minaya of The Wall Street Journal reported that the former vice-president of Venezuela is taking over as a temporary president after the death of Hugo Chavez.
However, Hugo Chavez was never sworn in a president because of his illness, so the former vp does not qualify. The Venezuelan Constitution states that the head of the National Assembly, which is similar to the U.S. Speaker of the House, is who should be designated as temporary president until elections take place. However, the National Assembly legislators seem to have fallen into the Abilene Paradox, and are recognizing against constitutional law the former vp as president. Mr. Minaya reported that only a hand-full of legislators oppose this action. So, it seems that the legislators have also fallen into the Groupthink. The Groupthink seems to be promoting unethical behavior.  Mr. Minaya also reported that the Venezuelan attorney general said on television that the former vp was rightfully in line to assume the interim presidency while an election is called. The attorney general is the former vp’s wife.
Leigh Thompson  in her book Making the Team explains Abilene Paradox  as the desire for group members to avoid conflict and reach consensus at all costs. Further, Thompson explains that Abilene Paradox is a form of pluralistic ignorance (p. 170). Thompson further explains that a major reason for unethical behavior is promulgated is the belief that “everyone else is doing it” (p.178).
Thompson wrote  that Groupthink occurs when team members place consensus above all other priorities – including using good judgment when the consensus reflect poor judgment or improper or immoral actions. Groupthink involves a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgments as a result of group pressures toward conformity of opinion (p. 157). Furthermore,  Groupthink can lead to a culture of unethical behavior within a company where the groups lie when deception is a guaranteed to result in financial profit (p. 178).
The International Court of Justice, busy at it is, should make time to prosecute Hugo Chavez’s  thugs who survive him, for fraud if the alleged algorithms and open violation of the vote are true.
Venezuelans need help from world leaders, and the International Court of Justice, to resolve abuse of power in Venezuela and restore democracy.
Maru Angarita 
My blog is: Twitter @maruangarita
Thompson, L.L. (2011). Making the team. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Minaya, E. (2013, March 6). Chávez deputy takes steps toward control. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from