In their provocative new book, Jana Costas and Christopher Grey focus not on organizational secrets per se, the content that is concealed, but on organizational secrecy, “the processes through which secrets are kept” (p. 7). Note the plural in “processes,” as the dynamics and their ramifications can become quite complex. The authors’ goal, which they amply meet, is to bring secrecy out from the shadows, as it were, and convince the reader that it warrants far more scholarly attention as both an important topic in its own right and as a complement to management topics such as leadership, organizational change, and politics.
The book’s subtitle, “The Hidden Architecture of Organizational Life,” speaks to their core argument: that secrecy explicitly and implicitly creates a compartmentalized structure linked by narrow corridors, a machinery for surveillance and monitoring, and organizational norms and professional ethics codes, all coupled with processes for sharing and not sharing information. “Like electricity or water in buildings, secret knowledge must always be penned in to proscribed places and forced to flow around prescribed routes” (p. 140).
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