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Groupthink in temporary organizations

Markus Hällgren (Umeå School of Business, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 26 January 2010




The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the understanding of groupthink in temporary organizations. Only anecdotally has the literature touched upon how the temporary organization's structure may foster groupthink. Studies of faulty group processes are imperative since temporary organizations are becoming more common.


Following the design used by several authors who analyzed the Everest events, this paper is an historic in‐depth case study based on accounts of several survivors.


Three out of four features of groupthink are found and analyzing the Everest events there are several symptoms to groupthink that may be present in any temporary organization.

Research limitations/implications

Groupthink as a theoretical idea is well developed but has received limited attention in a temporary organization (project) setting. More attention should be given to group dynamics in general and groupthink in particular.

Practical implications

Some practices are suggested to avoid groupthink. Furthermore, project managers find themselves in a balancing act between freedom, efficiency, and fast decisions. The context should be allowed to decide which the correct approach is. Finally, blowing the whistle should never be a problem and never be punished.


The setting of this paper is original although it is to the structure a common project. When life is at stake, features and symptoms of groupthink become more evident. The theoretical field is almost non‐existent in a temporary organization setting hence there is a considerable value to the theoretical development of temporary organizations and groupthink.



Hällgren, M. (2010), "Groupthink in temporary organizations", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 94-110.



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