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Title: On relationship quality and ethical issues at work : navigating between care and instrumentality
Author: Antoni, Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7425 5532
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2017
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Good relationships at work are thought to enhance various symbolic and material benefits, such as well-being, assistance on the job, and other resources. However, more research is needed to understand the intricacies between the quality of work relationships and organisational context. Therefore, this thesis adopts a social constructionist view to explore how people construct a quality of relationships at work. Moreover, to examine how people make sense of a ‘good’ way to behave with each other at work, this study investigates the construction of ethical issues at work. While research on ethical behaviours highlighted the role of intuitive processes, more research is needed to understand how these intuitive processes play a role in the construction of ethical awareness. The quality of work relationships is a quotidian phenomenon and has an ambiguous ethical meaning. Hence, work relationships is a way to study of the construction of ethicality in work organisations. A naturalistic multiple case study is adopted to investigate the phenomenon of work relationships in context. The researcher conducted in- depth qualitative inductive studies in two work organisations in France, including observations (330 hours of nonparticipant observations, 14 hours of audio and video recordings), interviews (45 participants), and questionnaires (N=106). Data was analysed separately, then compared in order to build theory on the construction of the quality of work relationships and underlying ethical issues. Findings show that relationships at work are a site of conflicting responsibilities: to care for work and to care for co-workers. The ethical meaning that people ascribe to the quality of work relationships is primarily related to individuals’ responsibility for the work, trumping a responsibility for co-workers. However, the salience of personal life at work increases the tension felt between caring for work and caring for co-workers. This tension can be rationalised into the belief that both caring obligations are complementary instead of competitive. This research shows that affects play a critical role in the issue construction phase and evidences the role of implicit processes at the collective level. The thesis contributes to research on work relationships in three ways. Firstly, this study demonstrates that the organisational context shapes the quality of work relationships, which reside in the interplay between care and instrumentality. Secondly, previous research was fragmented on the definition of work relationships, thus this research presents a typology of good relationships at work with an empirical definition. Thirdly, this study draws on an ethics of care to add to understanding care in organisations by showing how workplace instrumentality hinders the possibilities to care for co-workers. Thus, the thesis critically considers the role of work organisations on social welfare.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Warwick Business School ; Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor