Informative conformity occurs in uncertain and ambiguous situations. In unfamiliar situations, we are likely to shape our behavior to match that of others. Others inform us how to behave in new situations.
Normative conformity , occurs when our concern is to make good impression in front of a group. We may disagree secretly with the group opinion, but we may verbally adopt the group stance so that we do not appear as a deviant.
Examples: Conformity and organizational failure
Four - year delay in the recall of the drug Vioxx by Merck (2004), despite evidence from a variety of sources that use of Vioxx was dangerous for patients
Organizational commitment to the illegal conduct of Enron Corporation (2001). When warning signals about questionable methods began to appear, board members were not worried because they saw these practices as part of the way of doing business at Enron
It may interfere with effective decision making processes
It may lead to override the critical evaluation of options
it may contribute to bad decisions
Too much cohesion may lead to groupthink (Janis 1972)
“ A mode of thinking of people when they are deeply involved in a cohesive group…. The members’ striving for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of actions.”
British Petroleum Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010). The company did not consider adequately the risk of an accident and did not develop any contingency plan to quickly address an emergency
Space Shuttle Challenger explosion (1986). The team decision of launch was taken despite several previous concerns about safety expressed by the engineers; and followed a self censorship by dissenting people