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Organizational Health in a Climate of Fear and Uncertainty: Revitalizing Organizations through Promoting Human Values

Written/Edited by: Sheila Keegan
2012, ISBN 9781938158032 (128 pages), Emergent Publications

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Organizational life has inevitably felt the knock-on effect of the economic downturn and the unease that has accompanied it. High unemployment, redundancy and fear for the future are commonplace. Studies repeatedly show that ‘trust’ in the workplace is critical to ensure a happy and productive workforce and yet trust in organizations and management is at an all-time low.

As fear permeates organizations, from the top layers of management down to the ground floor, the knee-jerk reaction is often an attempt to impose control; hierarchical control supported by regulation, red tape and rigid administration; control through performance targets, and control of oneself, in order to survive in a toxic working climate. This approach rarely works. Fear and over-control lead to paralysis; risk aversion, a lack of innovation and a depressed workforce.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but placing greater emphasis on ‘human’ values of trust, participation and greater autonomy in the workplace has been shown to promote a happier, more engaged and more pro-active workforce. People stay longer, put in more effort and work together more cooperatively. Equally important, productivity increases. This has been shown to hold true even in times of restructuring and redundancies.

This essay explores the human and business costs of viewing staff primarily as a resource and looks at ways of re-thinking organizations. In particular, it examines Qualitative Productivity as a route to healthy, productive and innovative organizations.

Dr. Keegan offers a thoughtful critique of the limitations of a target driven culture and some of the limitations of this approach. Using powerful and compelling examples drawn from her own research, this text provokes questions about other ways of understanding organizations and different ways in which those working within them might think differently about what they are doing.
Dr. Karen Norman
Research Supervisor, Complexity and Management Group Hertfordshire Business School

No organization works well without people. People are motivated by many factors and in this publication Dr. Keegan explores how to attain a “healthy organizational balance”. With ever growing pressures on organizations this represents a toolkit of analysis and solutions to achieve this balance, illustrated by case studies and enriched by her experience.
Dr. Mike Short CBE
Vice President, Telefonica, Europe



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