Friend and foe? Self-deception in organisations
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Management Development. 2019, 38 (2), 130-140. 10.1108/JMD-04-2018-0122
Purpose Self-deception is generally deemed an adaptive psychological mechanism that ensures well-being, a sense of identity and social advancement. However, self-deception becomes maladaptive in organised environments that undermine the critical thinking essential to development and change. The purpose of this paper is to advance a theoretical model of self-deception, specifying and contextualising its intrapersonal and relational components in organisations. Further, it provides guidelines for practitioners to identify self-deception tactics, and minimise maladaptive self-deception. Design/methodology/approach Drawing on affective coping, system justification and self-categorisation theories, the paper illustrates how the interplay of intrapersonal and relational factors with organisational practices explain self-deception. Findings Maladaptive self-deception is pervasive in organisations that deter critical reflection, and intensify motivated biases to self-enhance and self-protect. Originality/value This paper proposes a socially and organisationally embedded model of self-deception, specifies how self-deception develops and manifests in organisations, and suggests ways of identifying and managing self-deception towards positive organisational development and change.