Shame in the workplace

Sue Walsh presents the case that linking psychodynamic and organisational perspectives can offer new insights into emotional experiences at work.
ORGANISATIONS provide the individual with an interpersonal arena in which, among other emotions, the experiences of love, companionship, betrayal and envy may influence performance and service delivery. Yet these experiences are barely represented in mainstream academic organisational literature. This omission is interesting. It suggests a decoupling between the ‘emotional/non-rational world’ of the individual and the ‘rational/technical’ world of the organisation (Burke, 1986). This decoupling means that how it feels to work in organisations only partially connects with how they are studied. The argument presented in this article is that we should not marginalise the complexity of emotional life within organisations. Kets de Vries (1995) argues that such complexities ‘raise important questions about human motivation, individual and organisational action, the nature of decision making, and the problem of change’ (p.1).

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