The Employment Relationship: A Psychological Perspective

The Employment Relationship: A Psychological Perspective

The Employment Relationship: A Psychological Perspective

The Employment Relationship: A Psychological Perspective


The Employment Relationship presents a controversial perspective on an area hitherto dominated by industrial relation experts and radical sociological theorists. Exploring some of the metaphors commonly used to describe the employment relationship, Peter Herriot argues that it is often their dark rather than their bright side which best expresses how employees really feel. Human resources sometimes feel like human discards! The main culprits in this situation, he suggests, are the top managers who fail to treat employment as a relationship and employees as individuals. He concludes that management rhetoric must be replaced by real dialogue and points to three issues where this is most crucial: employee compliance, contractual inequalities and the need for organisational change. The Employment Relationship will make essential reading for all managers and occupational psycholgoists. It will also be of interest to students of work psychology, human resource management or organisational behaviour.


In 1095 Pope Urban II sanctioned a holy war. Whoever undertook the pilgrimage to the Holy Land to recapture the Holy City, Jerusalem, from the infidel would be freed from all penances, he promised. the biblical vision of the Holy City of God, the New Jerusalem, added spiritual splendour to this temporal task: ‘And I, John, saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband’ (Revelation 21:2).

‘Deus vult, God wills it,’ responded the Crusaders, adopting the words as their battle cry in the campaigns ahead. Forgetting local quarrels, Crusaders from all over Europe joined up en route. By the time of the Third Crusade (1189-1191), the romantic ideal was fully fledged. Richard Coeur de Lion, the charismatic leader of the Crusaders, engaged in chivalrous and courteous encounter with the noble Saladin for the highest of all possible motives.

Yet the vision of the City of God was soon debased. From the Fourth Crusade on, war was made against fellow Christians for gain, rather than against infidels for glory. Latin and Greek Christians fought each other, as soon did Templars and Hospitallers. Pope Urban’s vision of a united Christendom degenerated into papal autocracy, and Western and Orthodox Christians parted for ever.

The story is one of an inspiring (though totally misplaced) vision, resulting in a mission undertaken by comrades sharing the same chivalrous values and led by charismatic leaders who embodied those values. But it is also a story of the betrayal of those values by people motivated by pride and greed. the top side of Crusade, with its distinguishing features of vision and charismatic leadership, flipped over to mere Play acting. While the values were still espoused, the reality was venality.

History is full of charismatic leaders who embodied their followers’ aspirations in their persons, their deeds, and their words. Sometimes the vision remained untarnished, the mission was accomplished, and the values lived on in subsequent generations. Sometimes the coin flipped, the dark side

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