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Alienation: An old concept with contemporary relevance for human resource management
Design/methodology/approach: This is a paper in the tradition of critical theory that draws on both classical and modern research in the business and psychology literature. It outlines the development of the concept of alienation from its classic articulation by Marx through to the perspective offered by existential psychologists such as Blauner (1964). How alienation, thus, defined might manifest in the workplace is then discussed, as are its links to other concepts associated in the literature with positive and negative work experiences is presented.
Findings: We argue that alienation needs to be addressed at two levels, namely, at the systemic level, in terms of factors external to the individual such as work and organizational systems and processes, and in terms of factors internal to the individual’s “state of mind”. We offer strategies for management to consider counterbalancing the negative effects of residual feelings of powerlessness, meaninglessness, isolation and self-estrangement that systemic change is unable to eliminate.
Originality/value: The paper refocuses attention on the individual within the context of HRM, the effects of alienation and other outcomes of positive and negative work experiences such as work engagement and job burnout.
Publication titleInternational Journal of Organizational Analysis
PublisherEmerald Publishing Limited
Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
Rights statementCopyright 2014 Emerald