Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace
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Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace

Management Challenges and Symptoms

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski

A work exposing and exploring the phenomena of the dysfunctional workplace is long overdue. This fascinating book does just that, uncovering the subversiveness, counter-productive behaviour and unspoken ‘issues’ that managers struggle with on a daily basis.
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Chapter 5: The Struggle of the Self: Identity Dysfunctions in the Contemporary Workplace

Glen E. Kreiner


Glen E. Kreiner Introduction Employment relationships are changing dramatically in the contemporary workplace. The new employment contract has redefined work arrangements of the past and ushered in a new era of organizational complexity (Rousseau, 1997). These changes bring about new challenges and tensions in the worker–workplace interface. As societies, organizations, families and individuals each become more complex, the interactions among them magnify in complexity as well. This new complexity calls for a richer understanding of existing constructs in the organizational literature – research that mirrors the intricacy and nuance experienced by the modern worker. In this chapter, I provide one such approach by examining several of the identity and identification dysfunctions in the modern workplace. Specifically, I examine how the ‘struggle for self’ (Baumeister, 1986) manifests itself in often dysfunctional ways in the workplace. I do so by examining eight specific dysfunctions, four of which derive from imbalanced identity boundaries, and four of which are suboptimal identification states. I then end the chapter by suggesting ways that individuals and organizations might work toward reducing identity dysfunctions in the workplace. I have two goals with this chapter. First, for those readers not intimately familiar with the identity and identification literatures, I hope to orient you toward how these areas of research can be linked with yours to better understand the common identity-based dysfunctions in the modern workplace. Second, for those who do toil in the identity and identification areas of research, I hope to...

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