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NCJ Number: 69950 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Concerted Ignorance - The Social Construction of Cover-Up
Journal: Urban Life  Volume:8  Issue:3  Dated:(October 1979)  Pages:295-316
Author(s): J Katz
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 22
Sponsoring Agency: US Dept of Justice
Washington, DC 20531
Grant Number: 78-NI-AX-0017
Dataset: DATASET 1
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the establishment and maintenance of coverups in large-scale organizations, and speculates on variations in social organization to remedy this phenomena. Case study examples are given.
Abstract: Organizational theory as well as features of modern organization which promote concerted ignorance are examined. Three myths of organizational boundary theory are considered. The principle of moral limitations is well institutionalized. Concepts of 'insiders and outsiders,' 'enemy propaganda,' and public relations myths abound. Similar ambiguities and equally rich resources for insulating organizational deviance have built up through the intersection of personal career and organizational life. Among them are euphemistic termination process in which firings are masked as resignations, and resignations as firings, and confidant relations in which revelations too embarassing between people of equal status in the organization can flow in a harmless direction (e.g., from husband to career wife to allow existence of a morally superior non-organizational self). Rigid conceptions of hierarchical authority and the myth of social distance obscure the fact that people in organizations negotiate what will be expected of them. For example, a central issue in negotiations is to establish what co-worker will know about each other's performance. The dimensions of concerted ignorance can be multiplied by combining several boundaries. The author counters the conventional view of deferential, passive participant and suggests organizational designs (such as employee turnover and a dual organizational system) to make strategic ignorance a less likely adaptation. The preparation of this article was supported by an LEAA grant. Over 30 references are appended.
Index Term(s): Organization studies; Personnel; Personnel administration
Note: An Earlier Version of this paper was delivered at a Conference on Management Fraud Sponsored by Peat, Marwick, Mitchell and Company, June 1 and 2, 1978
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