Constructing accounts of organisational failure: Policy, power and concealment
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© 2016, © The Author(s) 2016. An example of contracting arrangements within the National Health Service (NHS) provides the focus for considering accounts of organisational behaviour and failure. Public accounts of the outcome are contrasted with information disclosed in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. While the former focused on shortcomings in commercial expertise, sometimes at lower levels within organisational hierarchies, the latter suggests a need to consider the environment of social networks and power relationships. The data suggests obstacles to information flows across organisational boundaries were a contributory cause of failure, but a desire to present the implementation of policy in a positive light encouraged subsequent concealment of what Goffman (1959/1990) described as ‘dark secrets’. Through this example, the article provides an exploratory use of FOIA to examine social processes that frequently elude investigation.
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