Following the fireworks disaster in Enschede in May 2000, a ‘fireworks policy team’ was established within the Dutch ministry of Transport and Public Works. In the first months after the fireworks disaster the team designs a large number of new policy alternatives. A few years after the disaster however, the team members indicate that they did not consider all possible good policy alternatives. Why didn’t they do that at that time? In this thesis the possible explanation that the team could have suffered from 'groupthink' and 'peer pressure' is elaborated. These are group processes by which one solution is prematurely chosen and other alternatives are overlooked. Because (national) government increasingly makes use of policy programs and projects to design new policy, it is important that government managers better understand the relationship between group processes on one side, and the quality of policy design on the other. To test the hypothesis that “when the level of groupthink and peer pressure in a mid-level policy group increases, the quality of the policy design will decrease” four cases were selected and thoroughly analysed: 1. the policy team that was concerned with new policy after the fireworks disaster in Enschede; 2. the policy team concerned with new safety concepts in tunnels; 3. the team responsible for the implementation of the NEC directive; 4. the team concerned with a safe Dutch business environment. The thesis shows indeed that there is a link between groupthink and the quality of policy design. Until now research mainly focuses on high-level decision making groups. This thesis shows that additional research is possible and desirable to generate more knowledge about the relation between groupthink processes and the quality of the policy design in mid-level policy groups. At the same time the results of this thesis make it possible to improve the groupthink research model and confirm the challenge for the government manager to actually implement the recommendations for good policy design already generated in previous research.
|Place of Publication||Enschede|
|Publication status||Published - 25 Jun 2010|