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Elite decision making in 1968 Czechoslovakia: a case for Irving Janis "groupthink" theory?

Oldman, D.K.; (2009) Elite decision making in 1968 Czechoslovakia: a case for Irving Janis "groupthink" theory? Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

The Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia is a seminal twentieth century event. It has principally been studied by Western academics from a Soviet perspective. It is one of the purposes of this dissertation to re-dress that imbalance and look at the crisis from the perspective of the Czechoslovak political elite at the apex of the political system: the Presidium of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. It is another purpose of this dissertation to test Irving Janis’s ‘Groupthink’ hypothesis at the group domain of analysis. Although a much-cited neologism, few have used this approach when analysing historical events. The Presidium’s decision-making will be contextualised by an in-depth consideration of the information environment the political elite derived its knowledge from. Did the military elite and Diplomatic Corps provide accurate information the Presidium could make rational use of to ward off the impending invasion during 1968 or were these information sources ambivalent to, or even neglectful of the building threat? Whether this was true or not, did Czechoslovak elite fealty to both communism ideologically and the USSR as a fraternal ally, create what Janis has identified as group ‘concurrence seeking’, thus perpetrating the phenomenon of ‘Groupthink’, wherein the group’s information searching and decision-making capacities were compromised? Many notable contributions to the historiography of 1968 have been made by contributors resident in the west before the collapse of the bi-polar division of continental Europe in 1989. Since then archival restrictions have lessened and researchers are now able to gain access to key personnel involved in the events. This author has accessed archival sources: principally a continuous run of Presidium meeting stenographs from April to August 1968. The author has also used documents generated by governmental commissions into these events, accessed diplomatic cables and reports from 1968 and has interviewed some high ranking military personnel.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Elite decision making in 1968 Czechoslovakia: a case for Irving Janis "groupthink" theory?
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > SSEES

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