I am happy to report that my book about shadowed, dark, and shaded organizations is forthcoming from Stanford University Press. Just this past week I wrapped up my final revisions and submitted a final manuscript to my editor. I must say it feels good to have reached this milestone. I will have copy-editing and indexing still to do this fall, with the final published hardcover available in April. The book is titled Anonymous Agencies, Backstreet Businesses, and Covert Collectives: Rethinking Organizations in the 21st Century.
To me this feels like a long process, but I’m told by others it has actually moved along rather quickly to this point. I wrote a conference paper in fall 2010 and realized then that I had something much bigger than a paper. So, I prepared a book proposal and shopped it to four prestigious publishers. Stanford expressed the most interest and then offered me a contract in spring 2011. From May 2011 to February 2012 I wrote a first draft of all 8 chapters plus references. By April 2012 I had very supportive, and helpful, external reviews. By June 2012 I had made final revisions, including an added Preface. So, from my first written efforts that produced what would become the core of the proposal to a finished book, we’ll be looking at 2 ½ years. I guess by academic standards that’s pretty reasonable. Without a doubt, the book consumed most of the past 1 ½ years for me—but it has been worth it. This project provided a wonderful vehicle for me to integrate some of my ongoing work into a new organizational framework I’m hopeful others will find innovative and useful.
This framework helps us consider how a wide range of organizations and their members communicate their identity to relevant audiences. Considering the degree to which organizations strategically make themselves visible, the extent to which members express their identification with the organization, and whether the relevant audience is more mass/public or local, we can describe various “regions” in which these collectives reside—ranging from transparent and only somewhat shaded to more shadowed and dark. These more hidden organizations might include secret societies, organized crime, parts of the underground economy, terrorist cells, covert intelligence agencies, anonymous support groups, online hate groups, stigmatized businesses, and others. Importantly, organizations operating in the varied spaces in this framework differ in how they and their members communicate identity to others. So much of our current thinking and research has been around relatively transparent organizations and those operating only somewhat in the shadows, but the perspective offered here helps draw attention to more shadowed and dark collectives as important organizations that must also manage identity communication issues (sometimes with very different goals). The framework developed here is not meant to replace other typologies, models, and categorization systems for classifying organizations—but it can help us fundamentally rethink the contemporary landscape by focusing on the communication of identity along a much broader spectrum.
So, if you know of any great examples of hidden organizations that I may not have uncovered, let me know so that I may include them in my emerging work in this area.