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Recognizing Employees: Reification and Dignity in Management
Código: WPE – 266
The current paper develops the idea of recognition in organizations, arguing that recognition is a fundamental building block of workplace dignity, and a key element of cultural respect in the workplace. Recognition perspectives begin with problems arising from viewing workers as commodities, and not recognizing their intrinsic dignity as social actors. Traditional economic views of human capital and human resources are particularly apt to view employees as units to be strategically managed, and not actors to be recognized, a situation which can both deteriorate the quality of their work and cause a series of psychological and interpersonal dysfunctions in the workplace. Such views are here termed reifying, because they view employees and their work as “thing-like” units of trade, rather than as outcomes of the lived social experiences of actors trying to create works of value. The paper discusses the implications of reifying views of workers with the contrasting recognition view, using contemporary social theory on recognition to reconceive of the workplace as fundamentally social and dignifying. Finally, recognition views are applied to managerial practice, in the attempt to imagine the workplace in a way that combines practical action with the valuation of diverse individual and cultural experiences.