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Management Skills

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Management Skills


The article focuses on the research of a possible sacred dimension in the employment relationship. Indeed, the built in management science, aiming to measure this relationship, are mainly support the theory of social exchange. The sacred dimension appeared only recently, at the margin, through the concept of spirituality. To further this sacred dimension in the employment relationship, the authors propose to refer to the work of sociologists working on the concept. Thus, the sacred work has three dimensions, societal, and social identity. But what seems to differentiate the common sociological phenomena is that it is based on sacrifice. From this perspective, all could therefore not be exchanged in the employment relationship.


Taking the Weberian analysis of capitalist society, it is to recognize the position and the central role that the work had played in the development of this new economic order, moral and social development which today stands as the dominant model. If the development of this new model is rooted in the Protestant doctrine, religious reference devoted, in fact, its constituent elements. Between the modern concept of work and forced slave labour of the slave, which characterizes the ancient and feudal societies, Weber "enthroned" free labour. He is, by its rational organisation, ordering the capitalist society, allows distinction between classes (bourgeoisie / proletariat), assigns roles and provides the system dynamics. "[...] The" proletariat "as a class, could exist in the absence of any company organising the free labour" (Weber, 1904-1905, p. 9) The work becomes sacred in the sense that it is decided freely and allows the divine recognition.

According to Protestant principles it is through him that God recognizes us and we "encourage", then it gives meaning to action and recognizes the same, the constitutive dimension of being, by the action. Work has become sacred. Today, however, the new economic rules that prevail in its organisation and its distribution around the world contribute to its scarcity and the development of new social and psychological ailments (Lallement, 2009). The commodification of modern society seems to win our relationship to work. What is it really?

Literature Review

Management sciences have, it seems, gradually abandoned the concept of "work" very much in use among sociologists and ergonomists, to prefer him to the "relationship job." This abandonment is not innocent because if the concept of work can not completely remove its religious roots, the employment relationship is quite another. He simply ignores the historical division of the world into two categories of sacred and profane. And when this relationship analysis in this literature, it seems that God is dead on the hotel exchange relationship. This chapter will discuss first the different constructs that can be linked to the analysis of the employment relationship in management science and paradigms that can be identified. Subsequently, the observation will focus on what we have inherited the sociological literature on the concept of sacred work. The aim is to provide the following chapter features that would exploitable in management science, which will be realised by the research question.

Management sciences have, it seems, gradually abandoned the concept of "work" very much in use among sociologists and ergonomists, to prefer him to the "relationship job." This abandonment is not innocent because if the concept of work can not completely remove its religious roots, the employment relationship is quite another. He simply ignores the historical division of the world into two categories of sacred and profane. And when this relationship analysis in this literature, it seems that God is dead on the hotel exchange relationship.

Conduct and reporting

This chapter will discuss first the different constructs that can be linked to the analysis of the employment relationship in management science and paradigms that can be identified. Subsequently, the observation will focus on what we have inherited the sociological literature on the concept of sacred work. The aim is to provide the following chapter features that would exploitable in management science, which will be realised by the research question. The concept of employment relationship has its roots in the early 90s, with two authors who have published a plea for the establishment of a body of knowledge built on three articles of use: training, adaptation and end (Taylor & Giannantonio, 1993). To date and to our knowledge, only one work of synthesis1 different approaches to the employment relationship has been published. It does not provide a consensus definition of the construct and prefers to approach issues from but none of them refers to the sacred:

"What is the very essence of the employment relationship? Is it simply an economic exchange or relationship with economic backgrounds but quickly extends to sustainable social relationship? Is it a contract to which the force of law between two parties that one of them involved as "whole person" rather than as the sum of skills and knowledge in exchange for a fee? Is this a relationship that by its very nature is stretched with inherent conflicts of interest where employees need protection against powerful employers?" (Coyle-Shapiro, Shore et al., 2004). To define a scope for the concept, the book proposes to limit its main field of investigation to the issue of trade. It is addressed primarily from the theory of social exchange, with additional input from several main academic disciplines. While recognising the important contribution provided by this investigation, it seems to stick to it strictly, pressed a little too restrictive.

Based on the definition proposed by Kelly Industrial Relations (Hamiot, 2010; Coyle-Shapiro et al, 2004), the employment relationship appears as a construct that can be seen in three areas: organisational behaviour, management of resources human and social relations. This is a concept that receives contributions of the social sciences, including economics, sociology, law, political science and psychology.

A review of articles on the employment relationship shows that the concept can be studied from several perspectives: Employer-Employee, Employer-Employee, Employees Group other employees, and finally a comparison of perspectives of the Employer and the Employee. The parties involved may be defined differently depending on the objectives of investigation. The employee can be seen as an individual, as a group, or through representatives of its class (frequently trade unions). The employer may be observed or ignored. When observed, it is either as an employer or as an organisation (from a strategic perspective) or customised through the person of the direct manager. The concept of employment relationship in management science does not seem to take into account the sacred dimension. It appeared only recently and at the margin, through the concept of spirituality. Tepper for example, defines spirituality as “the extent to which individuals are motivated to find meaning and sacred in their lives' purpose” (Giacalone and Jurkiewicz, 2003, p.145). In his article, the author attempts to link theory spirituality and organisational citizenship. However, little empirical work has been done to date.

The analysis of the different existing built, attached to the employment relationship, shows that we can identify four main paradigms: the exchange, contract, power, direction. In fact it is interesting to consider theories that can be attached to each of these paradigms, the degree of diffusion paradigm in existing built in management science and useful paradigm for understanding the employment relationship. The employment relationship with the words "relationship" and "employment", it seems logical that the trade is the dominant background of numerous studies paradigm. In this approach, the dominant theoretical models of social exchange theory (Homans, 1958) (Blau, 1964) and rational choice theory (Becker, 1964) tend to remove the social significance this exchange, in favour of a logical cost / benefit. As established in management science, the employment relationship is thus mainly analyzed in terms of contribution / reward. This paradigm is present in many built as Perceived Organisational Support, the Commitment to Superior Organisational Citizenship, Organisational Commitment, Organisational Justice ... It is particularly useful for understanding the "economy" of the relationship employment, the expected performance, and retention time of the relationship.

The majority of work on the employment relationship is of North American origin, we can also understand that the second paradigm most frequently encountered is that of the contract. The theory of transaction costs (Williamson, 1975, 1979) seems to be related to this paradigm as the linchpin of his argument is the contract and not the cost mentioned in the title. Indeed, it is the contract, commercial or business, the degree of freedom it provides in its Anglo-Saxon sense that can manage the cost. Moreover, even if it is deeply rooted in the logic of exchange, the Psychological Contract is certainly built that the more integrated paradigm of the contract. This is especially true with the distinction between transactional and relational contract form, but also with additional concepts such as duty, breach, rape ... This paradigm is also present in the concept of Collective Bargaining. It turns out a very useful support to identify particular mutual obligations in the employment relationship and the indicators that will be used for evaluation of compliance with the terms of the relationship.

We can identify a third paradigm, that of power, in the report of the organisation of collective work. These include negotiation mechanisms it generates. It is also present in the problems of integration, where the individual must be accepted by the working group or needs to comply with the standards of the organisation. Theoretical approaches in this field are also a very passive conception of the individual with the theories of socialisation (Weber, 1904, 1905), to more interactive designs. Finally, there is the paradigm of power in the relationship of the organisation to the individual when it comes to decline a strategy (concept of downsizing) or when it is to take into account the individual needs (Maslow, 1943). This paradigm is less common but is found in constructed as Collective Bargaining or Organisational Socialisation. It is useful, inter alia, to consider the relationship in terms of conflict (negative or positive), negotiation and delegation.

The last paradigm, probably later, as can be observed in the constructed the employment relationship is the paradigm of cognition. It addresses the employment relationship in the context of a particular design of mechanisms that produce the sense of the situation. One theory is the theory of reference patterns (Barlett, 1932) (Piaget, 1976), we must also mention the strong influence of the theory of bounded rationality (Simon, 1955) in the analysis of the rational model of the various parties involved. This paradigm is less present than the first two. It is however found in the psychological contract, the Emotions at Work or Miss Profession career. It is useful to explain the behaviour or the mechanisms of decision in the employment relationship. It also serves to understand the perceptual bias. In fact, most built in the employment relationship have been developed in a positivist perspective. The irrationality of the human being is allowed only in a very restricted sense: bounded rationality. It therefore seems necessary to return to the work of sociologists on the sacred to consider to what extent it would be possible to integrate this dimension in management science.

Durkheim (1912) and more recently Kolar (2003) have shown that it is possible to understand the world around us into two categories: what is the thing what is profane and the sacred. As then set the darn thing, Weber refers to religion. The sacred helps to explain the inexplicable, where no empirical research can produce meaning. Refer to the sacred can identify, distinguish and classify objects into two categories. It helps to justify an order of things both social and spiritual level. Durkheim and Kolar talk absolute hierarchy, placing the six sacred over the profane thing. The sacred establishes a moral framework, a value system that allows each position to give meaning to his life and his work, to find its place in the collective sphere. Scribed it in a meaningful allocation process:

"The sacred provided the company with a system of signs intended not only to identify the phenomena, but to give them a value, specific to each of these phenomena value, linking each to a different order, inaccessible to direct perception" (Kolar. cit p. 58. op).

He then confronts the individual with its own limits and helps to define evil, thus exerting a structural and normative role: "Deny the sacred is to refuse the limits of man and it is also refuse the evil" (Kolar, op. cit p. 61.). It defines, in fact, prohibitions and taboos of society. It allows to provide benchmarks for the individual and the collective. The reference to the sacred allows the construction of a system of signifiers both individual and social. It is manifested through the ritualised behaviour, the mystification of events. It helps to understand the sacrificial act, justifying its dimension of renunciation and deprivation. The sacred becomes untouchable, the fundamental, with which we do not compromise, which is required. We are far from a cost-benefit logic put forward by the social exchange theory. The sacredness of the work can also be seen from two aspects: a collective dimension and an individual dimension. The work is thus regarded as a value instructing the social level. It allows you to assign roles, confers status, allocates time lives. It will even justify a certain order in the planning and structuring of urban space. At the individual level, it contributes to the definition of an identity of purpose and contributes to the development and expression of it. These two dimensions are so closely linked. The study of these interrelated phenomena will, however, justify the development of a whole school of French sociology of work including work of Sainsaulieu (1985) identity at work, and Dubar (1998) occupations

The advent of the industrial economy and the capitalist system w framed by the model of Judeo-Christian thought is going to work the central value of modern society from the 19th century (Becquemont & Bonte, 2004). Placed in the centre of individual lives, the work, it is a necessity because it allows the man to meet these basic needs, is becoming the main social integrator. It gives the individual status, social position, giving it a role. The modern acceptance of the work then a radical break with the traditional approach and its original design philosophy which placed below the political activity and knowledge (Arendt, 1983). It is voluntary in the Weberian sense. In fact this upheaval of the hierarchy of human activities gives the work its sacred dimension in the sense of referring structuring both the collective and the individual. This "social consecration" identity through work is very well illustrated. According to him, the emergence of the new order (economic), will corollary development of a new corporate entity: the worker. He explains that if the proletariat provided confiscate part of the "free will" of the worker group membership gives it a unique identity. In a recursive logic, the social dynamic that emerges allows the assertion of consciousness, its own identity, the construction of a specific public space and the development of "autonomy in the same capital society" (P.7).

Every profession, every trade, every business, every professional group, define its own standards, according to its criteria, its values and its history. Behavioural codification will be in place and each member, under penalty of dismissal, will join and reproduce the expected behaviour. In this work has a significant cultural dimension. The preservation of cultural identity pass through the phenomena of ritual, membership in the system of values and unifying myths. The adoption of a symbolic "language" is a fact additional component. The preservation of the cultural identity of the group becomes sacred in the sense of vital. Its dilution threatens the very existence of the group. This is illustrated by Vedrine (2009). Focusing on the dynamic issue in the Michelin Company during major reorganisation in 2008, we will conclude the importance of the sacred in the experiences and embracing change at the organisational level.


The operating data work being only the beginning, it is too early to report the results but we can however specify the terms of the initial research question. The contributions of the literature review is a first result. Indeed, is it possible to identify elements of the employment relationship that would fall within the criteria of the sacred given by sociologists?

According to their analysis that this sacred dimension of societal, social and individual characteristics, however, so far these characteristics do not really differ from other phenomena in sociology and is not really away from a logic of exchange. It seems that what distinguishes the sacred is about another meaning system that borders on absolute. On the one hand, the work would have a central value in society, which defines the order of the world and is reminiscent of the religious phenomenon. On the other hand, it would provide a behavioural coding for the individual to attain a status in the group, in the sense of "social consecration." Finally, deep identity dimension permit the projection of self and sacrifice. From this perspective, the employment relationship moves away from any economic logic and thus could not be exchanged. Specifically, is it possible to identify different systems of meaning in the employment relationship? Related to the existential and to explain the unexplainable? Who do not obey the logic of exchange and therefore not negotiable? These possibilities would open a new field for the analysis of the employment relationship and more generally for the management sciences. The sacred dimension should be the subject of further investigation.


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