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Dysfunctional Outsider Executives’ Rule and the Terra Incognita of Concealed Managerial Ignorance

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DOI: 10.4236/ojl.2015.41002    2,981 Downloads   3,421 Views   Citations
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Concealed managerial ignorance (CMI) is a dark secret that protects managerial authority, a terra incognita that evades customary research methods. A longitudinal semi-native ethnography of automatic processing plants and their parent inter-kibbutz cooperatives by a management-educated ex-manager untangled the dysfunctional rule of outsider executives who concealed their ignorance by detachment from knowledgeable employees or/and by seductive-coercive control. Both practices retained ignorance by vicious distrust cycles of secrecy, mistakes, and failures, but total failures blocked vulnerably involved mid-level managers whose vulnerable involvement created high-trust local cultures through virtuous trust and learning cycles. Successes empowered them, so that ignorant superiors, who felt threatened, suppressed them, and they left. New outsider replacements were recruited, opted for CMI, failed, and replaced by new knowledgeable outsiders who succeeded, were empowered, and suppressed, and so on; this seesawed prolonged rule by dysfunctional ignorant executives. CMI by outsiders was found to be widespread, supporting the critique of distant leadership and the premise of managerial knowledge portability. The findings point to the potential of ethnographying executives missed by anthropologists and the need for studies of distrustful practices, while in practice offering new yardsticks for assessing candidates for executive jobs.

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The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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Shapira, R. (2015) Dysfunctional Outsider Executives’ Rule and the Terra Incognita of Concealed Managerial Ignorance. Open Journal of Leadership, 4, 12-29. doi: 10.4236/ojl.2015.41002.


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