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Playing the Bullshit Game: How Empty and Misleading Communication Takes Over Organizations

Spicer, A. (2020). Playing the Bullshit Game: How Empty and Misleading Communication Takes Over Organizations. Organization Theory, doi: 10.1177/2631787720929704

Abstract

Why is bullshit so common in some organizations? Existing explanations focus on the characteristics of bullshitters, the nature of the audience, and social structural factors which encourage bullshitting. In this paper, I offer an alternative explanation: bullshitting is a social practice that organizational members engage with to become part of a speech community, to get things done in that community, and to reinforce their identity. When the practice of bullshitting works, it can gradually expand from a small group to take over an entire organization and industry. When bullshitting backfires, previously sacred concepts can become seen as empty and misleading talk.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
Publisher Keywords: activity theory, bullshit, domination, power, resistance
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Business School > Management
Date available in CRO: 27 Apr 2021 14:28
Date deposited: 27 April 2021
Date of first online publication: 4 June 2020
URI: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/26044
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