Belief, Truth, and Positive Organizational Deviance
48 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2011 Last revised: 1 Aug 2017
Date Written: October 7, 2011
Black Greek-Letter Organizations (BGLOs) are unique institutions. Though few in number, they claim some of this country’s most renowned African American leaders – e.g., Charles Hamilton Houston (architect of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s Brown v. Board strategy), Rosa Parks (mother of the Civil Rights Movement), Earl B. Dickerson (civil rights lawyer and first black University of Chicago Law School graduate), Sadie Alexander (first African American woman to earn a PhD, and first to earn a JD from the University of Pennsylvania), and William Hastie (first African American federal judge). Uniquely, BGLOs’ members tend to remain deeply committed to their organizations over a life-course. Even more, BGLOs tend to initiate large numbers of members into highly functioning alumni chapters. One thing that is most striking about BGLOs, however, is a particularly violent brand of hazing employed to initiate their new members. While there have been reforms within BGLOs to curtail hazing injuries, deaths, and legal wrangling (both civil and criminal), violent hazing within them persists. A host of reasons may explain why law fails to constrain legally consequential behavior within organizations like BGLOs. This article seeks to empirically ascertain (1) what beliefs may undergird BGLO hazing and (2) the extent to which beliefs about the utility of hazing as a means to actualize the essential ingredients of BGLO existence (i.e., commitment to the organization, its ideals, and members) are well-founded. We close by reconciling the tension between these findings and how law attempts to constrain behavior.
Keywords: Race, Organizational Behavior, Social Psychology, Empirical Legal Studies
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