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  • Gabriele Dantas e Khaliu Jhaffé

The Toxic Relationship between Company and Employee

The Toxic Relationship between Company and Employee

A toxic relationship is an abusive relationship. The abusive relationship begins subtly and affects the victim's ability to recognize the violent situation. In this type of relationship, the excess of power over the other predominates, the desire to control the partner, to possess him for himself; This is common sense among psychologists. This article aims to inform about the toxic relationship at work that happens between company and employee. To clarify the issue, we need to analyze the control techniques used by organizations. The techniques performed aim to generate a type of behavioral domain. These control methods are developed by the organizational culture.

What is Organizational Culture?

For Gert Hofstede, in his book Culture's Consequences, organizational culture is the set of visible and invisible behavioral aspects of an organization. Visible aspects are formed by the sum of: symbols, heroes, and rituals. They usually have a meaning of their own, recognized only by those who share the same culture. The invisible culture would be a particular way of thinking and acting habitual to that particular group. Examples of symbols are words, gestures and images, such as slogans, mantras and logo. Heroes are people who have highly esteemed traits in a culture and are role models; An example of the hero of today's society might be Spider-Man, but in a company, usually the hero is the subject who always has the organization's goals as a priority. Rituals are collective activities that are technically unnecessary for the achievement of desired goals, but are considered collectively essential. An example would be a meeting between employees without a specific purpose, made solely for the team leader's affirmation of authority.

Organizational Culture As a Control Method

Control through organizational culture has been presented at least since 1950, when E. Wight Bakke (1950) defined organizational culture as: “The systems through which people (and materials and ideas with witch they work) are bound together into a functioning whole may be classified as, bonds or devices of an organization "Bakke pointed to the roles of reinforcements (folklore, symbols, slogans, etc.) for socially desirable behavior."

Presentation of Material Used and Critical Approach

The control techniques used by the organizations, which will be presented below, were based on the book “People Management and Organizational Discourse” by Marcus Vinicius Soares Siqueira, more specifically in the second part of the book, entitled “Modern Organizational Imaginary and Power Relationships in Organizations ”. The book itself is based on Critical Theory, which is a philosophical approach to culture and literature that seeks to confront the social, historical and ideological forces and structures that produce and constrain it. The term is particularly applied to the work of the Frankfurt School. According to theorists, Critical Theory seeks human emancipation. Horkheimer, one of its leading theorists, defined its goal as "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them" (Horkheimer 1982, 244).

Control Techniques and Modern Organizational Imaginary


A Organization is a privileged place for power and desire games. It is a perfect place for the individual to reach his goals, even if he will misread his identity and lose the guidance of his own life. The company is no longer a mere means of survival, it is a place where the individual can fully realize himself. The company becomes a means to overcome your internal conflicts and anxieties. (Companies derive some of their power from bringing answers to individual psychological contradictions.) Offering a global answer to the problems of existence, the solution to the answer always lies in business life. The company turns into a big family. It is a constant game between dominator and dominated, involving subtle controls such as affective management, internalization of company values, and the individual's desire to win, even at a high price. The individual should be inserted in what proposes the organizational culture, the company will seek the formalization of its behavior as a way to reduce abnormalities and thus make unfeasible any possibility of action contrary to what it wants. The individual is urged to develop an above-average, all-round, superhero attitude. At the same time, the marginalization of the individual also occurs when they can no longer achieve goals. The individual is placed in a constant search for approval. Everything is instrumentalized according to production, even people. Work is divided according to the interests of production, while coordination mechanisms coupled with the formalization of behavior are used as a way of exerting power in organizations.

Voluntary Servitude, Fascination, Seduction and Power Relationships in Organizations

In everyday work relationships in organizations, there are two modes of control by love: Fascination and seduction. Fascination leads to individual submission, abandonment of everything except the beloved object, absence of criticism, and voluntary submission. The fascination is conquered by: rites, celebrations, triumphal parties. It brings the fantasy of being part of the organization "the success of the organization is my success". Subtly attracts the individual for a complete surrender. In seduction there is nothing fantastic or out of the ordinary. The seduction is exemplified by an insinuating smile, pleasantly balanced phrases and the trivialization of problems involving the company. The superiors make the subordinate believe that it is possible to be happy in the organization. The subordinate imagines himself building a new world, when in fact he is being built and modeled. Their dedication is an ideological adherence, adherence to a set of values and beliefs that seek to create a deep level of commitment to the organization.

Organizations and Control

Organizations are more engaged in the sophistication of human resource control. Coercion-based control begins to give way to control while managing the affective. Organizations use three modes of control, over the body, over thought, and over the psyche. In control over the body organizations will define how certain work will be done at its pace, yearning for a better worker income. In control by thought, the ideology of rationality that concerns the science of management is used, and the specific ideology of the company is used, which aims at extreme commitment and obedience to the rules and norms of the organization. In controlling the psyche the company expects the psychic internalization of its rules, norms and values. Organizational culture has become a powerful control mechanism in organizations, just as promises for successful careers ultimately control an individual's behavior.

Aspects of the Organizational Imaginary

The imaginary is “The space of representation, forms and images from which it is possible to conceive the project, the desire, the fantasy, the dream of building oneself and the world.” (FREITAS, 2000). ” A organization does not exist without the imaginary that is produced and assists in the establishment of cultural and symbolic systems.The Organization can choose from two types of imagery: the misleading imaginary and the motor imaginary. Using misleading imagery, the organization will position itself as all-powerful, a mother who sets out to protect the individual and meet their needs. Using the motor Imaginary , the organization allows individuals to develop creatively without the use of repressive aspects. The company wants the individual to exchange their imaginary for hers, in this sense we have the presence of what can be called organizational imaginary. Success becomes the main life reference of the individual, the individual is called upon to fulfill the role of organizational superman. Organizations fear the dreams of individuals outside the business landscape. Gradually, the individual recognizes himself in the organizational culture and is recognized as an effective member of the faithful organizational group. Organizational culture therefore has an extremely relevant role: “It is through organizational culture that we define and pass on what is important, what is the appropriate way of thinking and acting in relation to external and internal environments, what is professional and personal fulfillment. , the symbols to be worshiped and persecuted. ”(Freitas, 2000, p.66).

Main Problems in the new Organization-Individual Relationship

One of the main problems with this new company-individual relationship is especially related to the considerable reduction of the critical capacity of the subject, and consequently of some kind of resistance initiative. The first step in ending an abusive relationship is to recognize this kind of situation. Therefore, let this article raise awareness of the widespread power game that occurs in the workplace so that the abusive relationship can end.

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