Amanda Briggs (Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Organisation)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



Briggs, A. (2004), "Intimacy", Management Decision, Vol. 42 No. 9, pp. 1197-1198.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

People, it seems, are spending more of their lives at work than was the case a generation ago. Women have entered the workforce in increasing numbers and shifted the gender balance of the average workplace dramatically. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that work‐related intimacy has made it on to the agenda of organisations and management. Traditional attitudes and policies banning or discouraging such “fraternising” amongst employees are starting to look dated and inadequate, but what should replace them? How should these issues be managed? Can they, indeed, be managed at all? And where would you start gathering the information to answer these questions?

Professors Kakabadse and Kakabadse have started with an extensive international survey of working individuals (mostly managers and senior executives) into their attitudes and behaviours surrounding workplace relationships. The survey also considers organisational responses to reported instances of intimacy between employees. Finally, the authors use the respondents' own thoughts and feelings about the role of management and organisational policy to suggest possible answers to the questions above.

This is a fascinating topic area, and this study gathers a formidable array of data from across a very broad span. This mass of information can at times be almost overwhelming in its detail, and there is a sense here that further and follow‐up research could be generated from this for considerable time to come. The book is enlivened and humanised both by quotes and anecdotes taken from the original in‐depth interviews for the research, and from the peppering of case studies scattered throughout the text, which are used to illustrate particular trends or conclusions of the survey.

Addressing such personal and emotive issues as workplace intimacy is a brave step for any academic, and it is greatly to the credit of Andrew and Nada Kakabadse that they are investigated here in such serious and sensitive depth. There is nothing sensationalist or “tabloid” in the approach taken by this book. It is, rather, an ambitious and highly scholarly exposition of historical social and moral trends, leading to an intensive questioning of current practices and beliefs – required reading for anyone seeking to make or implement policy on employee interactions, or with an interest in the area of organisational behaviour.

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