Shooting the shit: The role of bullshit in organisations

Spicer, A. (2013). Shooting the shit: The role of bullshit in organisations. Management (France), 16(5), pp. 653-666. doi: 10.3917/mana.165.0653

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Abstract

This article argues that a great deal of both 'talk' and 'text' in organisational settings is, ultimately, bullshit. By 'bullshit' I mean the type of organisational speech and text that is produced with scant regard for the truth and is used to willfully mislead and to pursue the interests of the bullshitter. Bullshit is particularly prevalent in immaterial roles that lack a clear sense of social purpose. In these contexts, employees try to occupy themselves by engaging in bullshit. They do this by circulating discourses which are strategically ambiguous, over-packed with information and deliberately fleeting in nature. In order to construct these discourses, they frequently turn to examples set by the management fashion industry. When bullshit begins to take hold of an organisation, it can have surprisingly positive effects. It can create a positive image for the company and can help to increase self-confidence and build legitimacy. However, this often comes with some distinctly darker consequences: primary tasks are crowded out, valued occupational identities are compromised and stakeholder trust is undermined. Ultimately, bullshit leaves us with organisations that may be appealing on the surface but are distinctly brittle.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2013 M@n@gement and the author(s).
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Cass Business School > Faculty of Management
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/15609

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