Presentation Title

Truth Telling or Truth Suppression: Myths & Realities in the Modern Organization

Location

Reed 330

Start Date

20-4-2017 4:30 PM

Description

In 2009 Daake & Piatt published a Kankakee Daily Journal Column titled “Bad news can be rewarding.” Dr. Daake had been working on the concept since 1986. The thesis of that brief article was that organizations and their managers not only need to be receptive to bad or unpleasant news, but actually reward it. This presentation extends those conceptualizations to a theoretical framework that explores the realities of truth telling or suppression. Many forward-looking organizations have developed mechanisms to make sure the communications channels remain open such as suggestion boxes, anonymous surveys, ombudsman, or town halls. Notably absence in the literature, however, is the role that personal economic factors play in inhibiting or facilitating truthful communication especially from lower levels to higher levels. Employees in high demand positions, while they may not want to change jobs, have the opportunity and may have pending opportunities at 2-3 or more competing organizations. They can afford, to tell the truth, even if it means termination or discipline. Matters of fact, these talented high performing employees often hold the upper hand since their employers cannot afford to lose them. But for a vast percentage of employees, serious financial implications for themselves and their family make it far more likely they will suppress the truth. In many situations the stakes are low and so minimal harm is done, but morale and productivity suffer. On the other hand, situations like the Challenger Explosion, airline crashes, ill-conceived expansion of service or products, and fraud and corruption can be catastrophic e.g. Enron, WorldCom, Anderson Accounting, Exxon Valdez and even the Titanic. This paper will review the literature, provides numerous examples, advances testable hypotheses, and provides implications for practice and research.

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Professor Emeritus

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Apr 20th, 4:30 PM

Truth Telling or Truth Suppression: Myths & Realities in the Modern Organization

Reed 330

In 2009 Daake & Piatt published a Kankakee Daily Journal Column titled “Bad news can be rewarding.” Dr. Daake had been working on the concept since 1986. The thesis of that brief article was that organizations and their managers not only need to be receptive to bad or unpleasant news, but actually reward it. This presentation extends those conceptualizations to a theoretical framework that explores the realities of truth telling or suppression. Many forward-looking organizations have developed mechanisms to make sure the communications channels remain open such as suggestion boxes, anonymous surveys, ombudsman, or town halls. Notably absence in the literature, however, is the role that personal economic factors play in inhibiting or facilitating truthful communication especially from lower levels to higher levels. Employees in high demand positions, while they may not want to change jobs, have the opportunity and may have pending opportunities at 2-3 or more competing organizations. They can afford, to tell the truth, even if it means termination or discipline. Matters of fact, these talented high performing employees often hold the upper hand since their employers cannot afford to lose them. But for a vast percentage of employees, serious financial implications for themselves and their family make it far more likely they will suppress the truth. In many situations the stakes are low and so minimal harm is done, but morale and productivity suffer. On the other hand, situations like the Challenger Explosion, airline crashes, ill-conceived expansion of service or products, and fraud and corruption can be catastrophic e.g. Enron, WorldCom, Anderson Accounting, Exxon Valdez and even the Titanic. This paper will review the literature, provides numerous examples, advances testable hypotheses, and provides implications for practice and research.