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Distinctly lonely: how loneliness at work varies by status in organizations

Anthony Silard (Luiss Business School, Rome, Italy)
Sarah Wright (Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 4 January 2022

Issue publication date: 2 June 2022




This paper aims to study the differing pathways to loneliness in managers and their employees. Literature on emotions in organizational life, organizational management and leadership and loneliness are explored to develop and test hypotheses regarding the differential prototypical scripts that can be generative of loneliness in managers and employees.


A total of 28 managers and 235 employees from a horticultural company based in Mexico were surveyed, using measures of perceived connection quality, loneliness and meaningful work to test three hypotheses.


Data from 28 managers and 235 staff indicate that while loneliness scores do not significantly differ between managers and their subordinates, the predictors of loneliness differ between managers and employees, with emotional connection and mutuality predicting loneliness in employees but not in managers.


This paper adds specification to the literatures on workplace loneliness, the loneliness associated with management roles, emotions in organizational life and emotions and leadership. The findings are discussed in relation to the literature on manager-subordinate relationships.



Silard, A. and Wright, S. (2022), "Distinctly lonely: how loneliness at work varies by status in organizations", Management Research Review, Vol. 45 No. 7, pp. 913-928.



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