12 Angry Men: an Illustration of Concepts of Organisational Behaviour

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12 Angry Men:
An Illustration of Concepts of Organisational Behaviour
Introduction
In 1957 Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men was published (Lumet, 1957). Now, 55 years later, the movie’s teachings still hold most of their truths. The events shown in the movie can be scientifically explained using concepts of organisational behaviour. Although some of these concepts did not even exist by the time the movie was made, the movie still is an excellent case to study and illustrate them. The reason for this is the isolation of the movie’s characters. All events in the movie are triggered by the characters only. There are no external influences nor is there the possibility for the characters to leave the scene. This essay will apply concepts of organizational behaviour to events of the movie. Particular attention will be paid to the concepts of perception, attribution biases, decision making, leadership and group dynamics. In order to do so, the essay will move along the plot of the movie and apply concepts where there are fit. None the less for the purpose of referencing a brief introduction to the movie and its characters is given here: The plot of 12 Angry Men describes the events that take place as a jury has come to a unanimous decision. The defendant is accused of homicide. If the jury decides upon a verdict of ‘guilty’ the judge will inevitably sentence the accused to death penalty. In the beginning all jurors but juror no. 8 are willing to verdict ‘guilty’ without debating. However juror no. 8 states he will verdict ‘not guilty’. The group is then forced to discuss and reconsider. In the end of the movie juror no. 8 is able to get all other jurors to verdict ‘not guilty’. His main antagonist is juror no. 3. Analysis

Group Structure and Development
At the beginning of the movie the group of jurors is homogenous in every aspect. It consists of mostly mid age white men. Juror no. 1 is the jury foremen and the formally appointed leader. The rest of the group members however have no formal roles. Besides the existence of foremen there is no observable hierarchy. At once a stage of group forming begins. Group members talk to each other individually to fix their personal identities as well finding out the other jurors attitudes and backgrounds (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p. 297). By doing so, some first differences in social status (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p. 316) become apparent. Juror no. 2 and juror no. 11 for example have a lower social status in the group because of having an uninteresting and dislikeable job as a bank clerk and being an immigrant. Also some characters develop roles (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p. 328) such as recognition seeker, playboy, observer/commentator and procedural technician; however these are not very consistent. Essentially the group never really leaves the phase of group storming (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p. 298) since the entire time there is a conflict between juror no. 8 and juror no. 3 on going. Only in the very end of the story as resistance from juror no. 3 is stopped, the group leaves this phase. It can be argued that juror no. 8 and his followers form a subgroup that reaches the level of an effective team earlier on. Bounded Rationality

After this stage of group forming the foreman wants to assess initial opinions. As he is a very weak leader he suggests possible ways of doing so. The group then decides to do it by showing hands. A number of group members show their hands right after the foreman asks who verdicts ‘guilty’. By doing so they would allow the accused to be sentenced to death penalty without even discussing the case. Although this is a very extreme example this can be explained with the Herbert Simons concept of bounded rationality. Instead of trying to find the best possible solution to the problem, in this case finding the truth, these jurors just satisfice (Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p. 738). The search for and evaluation of information is seen as to...
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