Purpose – Although alienation as a concept has a rich history, it has suffered relative neglect in organizational studies and one possible reason for the same is its conceptual ambiguity vis‐à‐vis popular and long‐standing concepts of commitment/identification, satisfaction and engagement, that represent the positive experience of work and which have sometimes been equated as the opposite of work alienation. Similarly, the negative experience of work has traditionally been captured by concepts such as burnout/cynicism and counterproductive work behaviours/deviance. The purpose of this paper is to argue for refocusing attention on the concept of work alienation in management studies as distinct from other related concepts. Design/methodology/approach – The methodology integrated research from both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Findings – Through the analysis of the concept of alienation, along with other related concepts, the conceptual space for the study of alienation in organizational studies is pointed out. By examining the definition, and the antecedents and consequences of commitment, satisfaction, engagement, burnout and workplace deviance, the overlaps and points of differences are highlighted. Originality/value – The paper offers a conceptual level analysis and builds the argument for refocusing attention on the study of work alienation. The juxtaposition of the related concepts clarifies that alienation has a unique contribution to make towards understanding the link between experience at work and employee‐related outcomes.
International Journal of Organizational Analysis – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 9, 2012
Keywords: Employees behaviour; Job commitment; Job satisfaction; Stress; Social alienation; Alienation; Concepts; Engagement; Burnout; Deviance
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