This book is about micro-politics: that kind of manoevre to control or avoid being controlled, to claim friendship or proclaim enmity, which takes place between people who know one another, and who must temper and adjust their actions towards one another because they share other activities. They are members of the one community and of the same organization, and this not only moderates their actions but also provides them with themes for use in the political arena.
These justificatory themes and the irresolvable contradictions between them, and what is to be done when decisions cannot be made through rational procedures, is one subject of the book. The setting is the university world of committees and dons and administrators, but the inquiry is into general questions about organizational life. How are value contradictions resolved? Why are some matters discussed openly and others only before restricted audiences? Could we dispense with confidentiality and secrecy? What masks are used to make a person or a point of view persuasive?
It is impossible and therefore wholly unwise to try to attempt to run such organizations in a wholly open and wholly rational fashion: without an appropriate measure of pretence and secrecy, even of hypocrisy, they cannot be made to work. At a basic level organizations require secrecy and confidentiality to run effectively.