In Japanese culture, collectivist behavior is the norm (Takamiya, 1972), providing a high degree of consensus building. For executive leaders, consensus building is one of the most important skills to possess (Berman & Werther, 1996). For the Japanese, the use of group decision making has been a trademark of organizational culture that has provided them with exceptional speed at decision implementation (Martinsons & Davison, 2007). Group decision making provides increased idea development, opens up communication, and increases trust among those involved in the group (Brahm & Kleiner, 1996), while helping the organization attain cooperation, commitment, and strategic success (Hit et al., 1991) through the increase in creativity and innovation (Barkers et al., 2001). Despite these benefits, implementing group decision making does have its dangers.
Many dangers of group decision making result from the ambiguity of who is actually responsible. Since the perspective is that everyone is responsible for the decisions the group arrives at, no one is actually responsible (Takayima, 1972). This is further perpetuated by the fact that the leader’s role in the process is to work toward bringing about the necessary adjustments, relegating him to an effective mediator rather than a promotor of any one idea (Takayima, 1972). Unfortunately, that positions the leader to simply accept or reject decisions the group arrives at, which can lead to organizational mishaps, or the group feeling devalued (Brahm & Kleiner, 1996). If the group members become more concerned with maintaining relational leverage with each other, the decision arrived at may be simply the least common-denominator to please all members (Takayima, 1972).
With group decision making, there must be clarity on who shoulders the responsibility of the decisions made, and the dynamics of the group must be protected to insure peace is not valued over the group objectives.
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