Optimal Dissent In Organizations
Organizational behavior literature has some interesting theories on group decision making. Pertaining to groups, one of the most important concepts is dissent. How do you balance the benefits of dissent (or devils advocacy) with the costs of potential negativity.
Introduction (Via NYU)
In organizations, a key role of managers is decision making. Yet, there are limits to what they can ask from their team. Sometimes, subordinates simply dislike to work on certain projects. Some other times, they do not believe their boss is really giving the right order. Such disobedience need not arise as an open conflict, but rather as a lack of enthusiasm and initiative. This paper studies these limits to managerial authority. Somewhat surprisingly, we find that a certain level of disagreement in the chain of command may be useful to (1) prevent bad decisions from being taken and (2) give credibility to the accuracy of the decision maker’s choices. That there is an optimal level of dissent in organizations is more than just a theoretical speculation, and has, we argue, important practical implications ranging from the political independence of government agencies to the current debate on corporate governance.