Kristina Höly, Sebastian Starystach
Silence and Deviance in Organizations
Abstract: Our contribution analytically differentiates between individual and organizational deviance on the one hand and individual and organizational silence on the other. The combination of both analytical categorizations offers the possibility of building archetypes or idealtypes as to how silence and wrongdoing can be interconnected. Based on this heuristic, we analyze the case of the “German Transplant Scandal”. The analysis supports our assumption that it is central to understand silence in organizations not as isolated but always in the context of the kind of wrongdoings it covers up. The case analysis shows that the informal norms which structured the organizational deviance also influenced the corresponding dynamic of silence. Against this background, we argue that the current research focusses too heavily on identifying case independent factors with the help of quantitative research designs and that a qualitative case perspective is needed to understand more deeply the phenomenon of silence in organizations.
Keywords: organizational silence, organizational deviance, hospital, White Wall of Silence, informal norms