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Harvey (2011) developed the idea of management of agreement during the time that he went together with his wife and in-law parents on a trip, which they did not want to go to, but did not object to, thinking that they were all pleasing one another. This paper presents an analysis of this article ‘The Abilene Paradox: the Management of Agreement’ which Harvey wrote after this trip’s experience.
Harvey (2011) describes the Abilene paradox as being characterized by the inability of organizations to manage agreement. According to the author, this paradox usually presents itself when the members of the organization pursue a certain goal, thinking that they are doing it to please their fellows or seniors, and yet in their minds they resent the idea they are pursuing. On the other hand, their fellows also resent their idea, but pursue it in order to please them.
To further explain this paradox, Harvey (2011) describes the forty-mile journey to Abilene which was the idea of his father -in-law, who thought the family was bored by staying in the house. Harvey, his wife and mother-in-law all agreed to go to Abilene despite the fact that they never wanted to. The journey was not enjoyable as such, given the hot temperatures, the dust, and the low quality food in Abilene. On returning from the journey, they started accusing each other of forcing one another to the unpleasant journey to Abilene.
Harvey’s mother-in-law said she went for the trip because shed did not want to disappoint the others. Harvey in his defense said he did not want to go, but was only doing what he thought they all wanted. His wife said she only went because they all wanted to go. Lastly, his father-in-law said he was not for the Abilene idea but he believed, it was good as he thought they were bored, and they seldom visited the place.
In conclusion, Harvey’s experience shows how people in certain situations can find themselves doing just the opposite of what they want. Harvey used this experience to explain the problems this type of paradox can cause to an organization.