Foundations of International Business in the Age of Intellectual Capitalism
New Horizons in International Business series
Chapter 2: Collective strategy and collective knowledge
The thinking process of crowds has often been considered unwise rather than careful thought. Descriptions such as "mob psychology" or "group think" indicate a situation where many people gather and indulge in idle behaviour or foolish ideas. Japanese proverbs such as "people crowding like crows" or "too many boatmen heading towards the mountain (too many cooks spoil the broth)" are used as often as "Three people together are better than Monju, Bodhisattva of intellect (Two heads are better than one)." There are three major schools of thought insisting on the stupidity of "group think". One view is that of social psychologists, who discuss mob psychology. The second view is found in discussion by economists, who advocate methodological individualism. The third view is the explanation given by game theory. Mob psychology explains the stupid behaviour of crowds. Le Bon (1895) asserts that it is psychologically incorrect to assume that "many people can make wiser and more spontaneous decisions on a certain problem than a few people" (p. 172). He cites the parliamentary system as an example of the general behaviours of mobs. It has characteristics of "simple thought, easily excited, vulnerable to being swayed, exaggeration of emotions, and strong influence of leaders" (p. 172). Le Bon (1895) also points out that anonymity leads to the emergence of mob psychology. People take irresponsible actions when it is not identified who they are. Le Bon observed stupid actions by crowds during the French Revolution.
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