We all know bullshit when we smell it, but why is it so prevalent in the corporate world? In a recently published paper, Andre Spicer, professor in organisational behaviour at The Business School (formerly The Cass Business School), offers some intriguing thoughts.
Bullshitting – which Spicer defines as empty or misleading communication – is a social practice. It emerges within organisations and among groups as a way of helping people to feel like they fit in, navigate day-to-day interactions and reinforce a positive image of themselves or the business.
Spicer says there are three situations that cause it to spread. The first is the ubiquity of what he calls “conceptual entrepreneurs”. Self-declared gurus, “thought leaders” and, occasionally, academics who push poorly evidenced, misleading and seductive ideas – for example, about entrepreneurship – that are then repeated or taken on by followers.