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Trusted to deceive: A case study of 'strategic deception' and the normalization of lying at work

Jenkins, Sarah and Delbridge, Rick 2017. Trusted to deceive: A case study of 'strategic deception' and the normalization of lying at work. Organization Studies 38 (1) , pp. 53-76. 10.1177/0170840616655481

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Abstract

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’.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0170-8406
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 29 April 2016
Date of Acceptance: 23 March 2016
Last Modified: 26 Aug 2020 15:18
URI: http://orca-mwe.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/90190

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