[Air-L] Call for Papers - Special Issue on Hidden Organizations

Craig Scott crscott at rutgers.edu
Sun Apr 6 12:59:47 PDT 2014


AoIR Colleagues,


For those of you who study certain hacktivist collectives, anonymous support
groups, online hate groups, Internet piracy, dark web organizations, online
front organizations, largely invisible virtual businesses, or other somewhat
hidden organizations online


For those of you whose work examines various technologies of concealment,
digital anonymity, online secrecy, privacy, invisibility, or other processes
related to the hiding of organizations and/or their members


I’m pleased to announce the call for papers for a special issue of
Management Communication Quarterly (MCQ) on Hidden Organizations. The
“hidden” details are pasted below. The deadline for submitted papers is
October 1, 2014. 


For those not familiar with MCQ, it publishes work from across the
organizational and management communication fields and has strong appeal
across all disciplines concerned with organizational studies and the
management sciences. It is a top 20 journal in communication and is ranked
in the top half of all management journals based on impact. You can learn
more about this journal and view this call for papers at


Please let me know if you have any questions and please consider submitting
any relevant work you have for this special issue.




Call for Special Issue of Management Communication Quarterly: 

Hidden Organizations

Guest Editor: Craig R. Scott, Rutgers University



Hidden organizations are ones where the identity of the organization and/or
its members is heavily concealed, for a variety of reasons, from various
audiences. They are collectives organizing in shaded, shadowed, and dark
regions of the organizational landscape (see Scott, 2013). These hidden
organizations include, but certainly are not limited to, undercover
organizations, shadow governments, clandestine groups, terrorist cells,
crime cartels, many gangs, and other dark networks. To that we can add many
online and offline support groups, certain hate groups, new religious
movements, some hacker/hacktivist organizations, secret societies, and
potentially even political action committees. Also hidden from view are
various stigmatized companies, front/shell organizations, aspects of the
informal economy, and even certain highly specialized small businesses that
remain largely invisible to the public. These hidden collectives represent
an important and likely growing segment of our world.

Yet, in many ways, we as citizens, consumers, and scholars of organizations
have failed to seriously and adequately consider these various forms of
hidden organizations—creating both missed opportunities and potential
dangers. There are several explanations for this. First, our scholarly focus
on the familiar organizational foreground of predominantly large for-profit
businesses, easily recognized governmental agencies, and a few high profile
nonprofits and NGOs contributes to a lack of awareness of what may be an
even larger arena of other less visible collectives. We instruct our
students about the value of branding and identity creation, various
professional associations conduct training workshops to improve skills in
reputation and image management, and we draw primarily on these recognizable
organizations in our teaching and consulting—all of which draws attention
away from more hidden collectives. Second, we live in a world where too
often the name of the game is the name game (Glynn & Abzug, 2002; Schultz,
Hatch, & Larsen, 2000), where organizations dedicate substantial efforts to
provide a highly recognizable name and visual identities that enhance their
reputation (Fombrun & Shanley, 1990). There is a general bias in much of
society for openness and transparency and a lack of serious attention to
that which is hidden or kept secret. A third reason for the lack of
attention to hidden organizations is that existing methods privilege more
visible forms of organizing. Certainly, their somewhat hidden nature often
makes accessing information about them challenging—leading researchers to
pursue more convenient samples and cases. A final potential reason for the
inattention to these hidden organizations is seen in broader critiques about
our continued reliance on outdated organizational theory even amid
recognition of widespread changes. Davis (2009) offers an informative
critique in arguing that large corporations have lost their central place in
American social structure as we move from an industrial to post industrial
economy, where “the applicability of several of our existing theories is
called into question” (p. 41). 

Thus, a contemporary view of organizations and organizing must extend our
focus to consider other important forms and the distinctive organizing
processes in these collectives. Recent work examining both alternative
organizations (see Parker, Cheney, Fournier, & Land, 2014) and the dark side
of organizations (see Linstead, Maréchal, & Griffin, 2014) represents
valuable extensions to our scholarship—though that work rarely addresses
hidden organizations themselves. These various hidden collectives matter
because “there are real consequences associated with the successful and
unsuccessful efforts of these organizations and their members to conceal and
reveal their identity to key audiences” (Scott, 2013, p. xi). As Alvesson
(2004) observed, “We live in a complex world, characterized by interaction
with a lot of different people, organizations (of whom most are barely
known), and production processes
” (p. 168, emphasis added). Thus, we need
more research and theorizing about these hidden collectives in our

This special issue seeks to unmask some of these hidden organizations and to
initiate a scholarly conversation about these collectives as a way to
stimulate prescient theorizing (Corley & Gioia, 2011) on this important part
of our society. The selected submissions will shed some much needed light on
these hidden organizations and their largely concealed practices by
highlighting collectives of a different breed and, often, purpose. It will
seriously question assumptions about the importance of promoting an
organization’s identity and building widespread name recognition in an
effort to establish a strong reputation. It will also hopefully offer ideas
for theorizing about and researching a much wider range of organizational
forms than those that currently dominate our literature.


Possible Topics

            This special issue seeks both empirical and
conceptual/theoretical pieces related to hidden organizations. Special
consideration will be given to submissions reporting original data—utilizing
any appropriate method—that examine communicative and/or managerial aspects
of a wide range of hidden organizations including, but not limited to, the
following entities and their members: covert special missions units, secret
or secretive government agencies, clandestine operations, spy rings,
eco-terrorist groups, other terrorist cells, the Mafia or other organized
crime syndicates, Yakuza or other street gangs, Silk road and others
operating on the dark web, pirate organizations, illegal animal fighting
rings, KKK, various hate groups, twelve-step support groups, various other
online and offline support groups using anonymity, domestic violence
shelters, the Underground Railroad or other similar assistance networks,
Scientology, cults and other new religious movements, Anonymous and certain
other hacker/hacktivist organizations, various secret societies and select
fraternal organizations, Skull and Bones, political action committees,
sweatshops, front or shell organizations, various aspects of the informal
economy, bathhouses and certain others elements of the sex industry, and
highly specialized small businesses that remain largely invisible to most.

We are also interested in empirical research and more conceptual/theoretical
essays addressing motivations for and/or ways in which organizations and/or
their members conceal identity, promote invisibility, maintain secrets,
obscure image, encourage anonymity, fake transparency, and/or engage in
other organizing practices that serve to hide organizations and their
members. Submissions detailing unique methodological approaches appropriate
for the study of hidden organizations will also be considered. We encourage
submissions that examine

organizations operating in multiple countries or that have special
international significance. In general, we are not looking for studies that
merely examine the deceptive practices or hidden work within otherwise
visible organizations unless those practices are truly core to the
collective’s identity. We are not interested in failed efforts of
organizations that were unable to effectively promote themselves to a
specific audience. Furthermore, we are generally seeking more than
historical or purely descriptive essays about one or more hidden


Key Dates

            All submissions will undergo double-blind peer review by
qualified scholars. Key dates for submitters are as follows:

October 1, 2014:        Deadline to submit full papers for consideration in
MCQ Special issue

January 1, 2015:          Determine submissions to be accepted or revised
for possible acceptance

March 1, 2015:            Revisions due; Final issue submissions selected

June 1, 2015:               Articles delivered to MCQ for special issue to
appear in late 2015


Contact/Submission Information

For this special issue, manuscripts should not exceed 10,000 words
(including references, tables, figures, etc.). For other questions about the
issue and the appropriateness of a potential submission, please feel free to
contact issue editor Craig Scott at  <mailto:crscott at rutgers.edu>
crscott at rutgers.edu or 848-932-7125. To submit your work by the deadline,
please follow guidelines on the MCQ journal website:
<http://mcq.sagepub.com/> http://mcq.sagepub.com/. This full call is
available online at



Alvesson, M. (2004). Organization: From substance to image? In M. J. Hatch &
M. Schultz (Eds.), Organizational identity: A reader (pp. 161-182). Oxford,
England: Oxford University.

Corley, K. G., & Gioia, D. A. (2011). Building theory about theory building:
What constitutes a theoretical contribution? Academy of Management Review,
36, 12-32.

Davis, G. F. (2009). The rise and fall of finance and the end of the society
of organizations. Academy of Management Perspectives, 23(3), 27-44.

Fombrun, C., & Shanley, M. (1990). What's in a name? Reputation building and
corporate strategy. Academy of Management Journal, 33, 233-258.

Glynn, M.A., & Abzug, R. (2002). Institutionalizing identity: Symbolic
isomorphism and organizational names. Academy of Management Journal, 45,

Linstead, S., Maréchal, G., & Griffin, R. W. (2014). Theorizing and
researching the dark side of organization. Organization Studies, 35(2),

Parker, M., Cheney, G., Fournier, V., & Land, C. (Eds.). (2014). The
Routledge companion to alternative organization. New York: Routledge.
Schultz, M., Hatch, M. J., & Larsen, M. H. (Eds.). (2000). The expressive
organization: Linking identity, reputation, and the corporate brand. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

Scott, C. R. (2013). Anonymous agencies, backstreet businesses, and covert
collectives: Rethinking organizations in the 21st century. Palo Alto, CA:
Stanford University Press.






Craig R. Scott, Ph.D.

   Professor, Department of Communication

   Vice Chair, ICA Organizational Communication Division

School of Communication & Information

Rutgers University

4 Huntington Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Voice: 848-932-7125; Fax: 732-932-6916; Office in 201 DeWitt (185 College

Web: http://comminfo.rutgers.edu/directory/crscott/index.html

Linked in:  <http://www.linkedin.com/pub/11/b83/241>


Author of
0804781389/ref=la_B00BFX9962_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362894609&sr=1-1> Anonymous
Agencies, Backstreet Businesses, and
0804781389/ref=la_B00BFX9962_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362894609&sr=1-1> Covert
Collectives: Rethinking Organizations in the 21st Century



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