Organizational life can be punctuated by social uncertainty, leading to mistrust.
Intel’s former Chairman, Andy Grove, explained his success in guiding the company through a critical flaw in its Pentium chip, which threatened Intel’s brand value, noting “Only the Paranoid Survive.”
However, organizational paranoia’s counterpoint, trust, is associated with productivity, creative problem-solving, employee commitment and retention, remarked University of Cambridge’s Christel Lane and Reinhardt Bachman of University of Surrey.
Likewise, Alan Fox catalogued negative consequences of suspicion in work settings.
Stanford’s Roderick Kramer offered both support and caveats to Grove’s pro-paranoia mantra by noting that people in organizations often misconstrue and overvalue suspicions, leading to low collaboration and isolation at work.
He noted that people with fewer resources or less power may engage in self-protective behaviors, accompanied by increased hypervigilance, consistent with findings by Princeton’s Susan Fiske.
These strategies increase the possibility of “paranoid social cognition”, and may lead people to engage in:
-Personalized construal of interactions,
-Perception of conspiracy, highlighted by Rutgers’ Ted Goertzel.
To balance “prudent paranoia” with organizational trust, Kramer recommends that people in organizations consider alternate interpretations from people likely to hold different views, while skeptically considering “reality as an hypothesis.”
-*How do you find a balance between organizational trust and “prudent paranoia”
- Detecting Trustworthiness, Opening Your Mind?
- Inferring, Predicting Others’ Thoughts, Intentions, Behavior
- Trusted Leader Assessment without a 360 Degree Evaluation