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Trifecta Analysis of “12 Angry Men”

By:   •  Book/Movie Report  •  956 Words  •  February 25, 2010  •  1,450 Views

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Trifecta Analysis of “12 Angry Men”

The version of the “12 Angry Men” that I was able to obtain was the original with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb. It is interesting to note that watching this movie with this assignment in mind gave me a different perspective of the jury’s interactions. While there were several theories in play throughout this movie, in terms of the Communication Privacy Management, Groupthink, and Organizational Information theories, the most prevalent was Groupthink. Obviously, there were boundary violations creating boundary turbulence and the jury was a human organization required to disseminate information, but the symptoms of Groupthink were evident throughout.

The Communication Privacy Management asserts that there is a process that people use to manage the disclosing of private information (West & Turner, 2007). This process develops relationships between private and public boundaries. When people’s expectations for these boundaries come into conflict with another’s, boundary turbulence exists. A good example of boundary turbulence was the scene when a juror goes off ranting about ‘those’ people and every other juror, one by one, gets up from the table and stepped away, clearly separating themselves from his opinion. The motivation for this rash disclosure could have been to garner support by attempting to highlight a boundary linkage that they share; that because they were not ‘those’ people, they shared a connection, an alliance against ‘those’ people. However, boundary turbulence was created instead because none of the jurors accepted his rational. In fact, boundaries were redrawn because of this outburst. This juror ended up sitting alone at another table never to contribute again to the group. Another example of Communication Privacy Management at work was that each time they voted, whether by show of hands or secret ballot, the jury was disclosing to each other what they thought about the defendant’s innocence or guilt. The manner in which they voted showed that there was a decision regarding private and public boundaries.

Organizational Information theory asserts that the main activity of an organization is the process of making sense of information (West & Turner, 2007). The jury could be considered a human organization formed in an information environment, a trial. If an organization is to manage information they must make it meaningful for the members thereby reducing the equivocality or ambiguity of the information. There were three attempts to in this movie to make information more meaningful to the members of the organization. The illustrated map of the apartment, the reenactment of the old man walking from his bedroom to the stairs, and the explanation of knife fighting techniques were visual aids that conveyed information to the jurors in a different manner. There were two other elements of the movie that illustrated the Organizational Information theory at work, duration and personnel. After the first round of voting, a guilty verdict was a choice that would have completed the jury’s task in the least amount of time since all but one voted guilty. Personnel on both sides were very competent. The one juror who voted not guilty eventually became a key resource for the not guilty side and the juror who wore glasses and spoke very analytically was a key resource for the guilty side.

The Groupthink theory asserts that highly cohesive groups frequently fail to consider alternatives to their course of action (West & Turner, 2007). This movie clearly showed this theory at work exhibiting many of the symptoms mentioned in the text. All three assumptions that are critical for this theory, high cohesiveness, unified process,

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