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Alienation, Psychology and Human Resource Management


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Nelson, L and O'Donohue, W 2006 , 'Alienation, Psychology and Human Resource Management', paper presented at the 2nd Australian Centre for Research in Employment and Work (ACREW) Conference, Prato, Italy.

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This paper revisits the issue of alienation and work. Although Marx saw alienation as an
objective reality, others argue that it is a subjective experience of powerlessness,
meaninglessness, isolation and self-estrangement. Feelings of alienation are also a central
construct of existential psychologists, who focus on separation of the individual from the
presumed ‘real’ or ‘deeper’ self. The question arising from self-estrangement in the
workplace is whether modern management techniques have been able to alleviate such
feelings. The effects of work structures, various management strategies and the adoption of
human resource management as a set of unitarist principles are examined. It is argued that a
number of approaches by management have failed to provide any respite from feelings of
alienation and, further, that human resource management has tended to produce practices that
have also failed. At the same time, the ‘soft’ version of human resource management model
with its unitarist ideals has the potential to assuage feelings of alienation.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Authors/Creators:Nelson, L and O'Donohue, W
Keywords: Human resource management, psychology, alienation
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