How Can Lying Become Valued and Institutionalized in the Workplace?

15669811804_089795fefd_z[We are pleased to welcome Trish Reay, Editor-in-Chief of Organization Studies.]

In spite of the fact that lying is an endemic feature of social life, organizational researchers to date have almost ignored the topic. In the Organization Studies article Trusted to Deceive: A Case Study of ‘Strategic Deception’ and the Normalization of Lying at Work, authors Sarah Jenkins and Rick Delbridge investigate how lying can become institutionalized, rationalized and socialized into the structure and culture of an organization. They conducted an in-depth case study of VoiceTel (pseudonym) an organization that provides virtual reception services for businesses; telephone calls are answered by receptionists who conceal their geographic location when speaking with clients. As a result, deception becomes a strategic feature of business models in virtual service work.

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Jenkins and Delbridge develop a model to explain how deception can become established and normalized so that employees accept lying as an intrinsic and enjoyable feature of their work, allowing them the opportunity to be creative and inventive. These features help to explain how lying can become embedded, maintained and strengthened over time in organizations, and as a result deception can become positively linked with providing good customer service. Jenkins and Delbridge also provide insights into the broader consideration of how workplace practices are institutionalized – examining how ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ processes can dynamically support the perpetuation of individual and collective practices. I invite you to read the whole article to find out how employees can learn to take joy from lying for a living.

The abstract for the paper:

Lying is an endemic feature of social life but has remained under-researched in organization studies. This paper examines the case of VoiceTel, a market leader in the high-quality virtual reception business that practised ‘strategic deception’ (Patwardhan et al., 2009). Receptionists concealed that they were not physically located in their clients’ premises and lying was an intrinsic and enduring feature of their work. We adapt and extend Ashforth and Anand’s (2003) ‘normalization of corruption’ framework to develop a new model of the ‘normalization of lying’. We examine how lying becomes institutionalized, rationalized and socialized into the structure and culture of an organization such that it becomes embedded, maintained and strengthened over time as a legitimate and integral part of the job. Our model of normalization integrates organizational and group levels to examine the significance and interaction of ‘bottom-up’ as well as ‘top-down’ processes. Employees gained recognition from their proficiency in deception and drew considerable satisfaction, self-esteem and status as employees who are ‘trusted to deceive’.

You can read Trusted to Deceive: A Case Study of ‘Strategic Deception’ and the Normalization of Lying at Work from Organization Studies free for the next 30 days by clicking here. Want to stay current on all of the latest research published by Organization StudiesClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

This entry was posted in Communication, Employees, Management, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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