Decent versus Humiliating Organizations. Antecedents and Effects.

Johannes Lehner, Jaysuño Abramovich Schwartzberg


“Humiliation is any sort of behavior or condition that constitutes a sound reason for a person to consider his or her self-respect injured” (Margalit, 1996). Humiliating organizations are those which systematically humiliate their customers, employees, suppliers, or other groups significantly related to the organization.  This paper, first, aims to identify characteristics of humiliating versus decent organizational actions vis a vis the individual. Especially we will show where humiliation reaches beyond rational justification. Second, we will propose conditions and antecedents of humiliation in the relationship between organization and individual.

We distinguish humiliation from decency by referring to the concept of social status, originated by Max Weber (1924), which is closely related to honor, esteem and also self-esteem, although the concept is not directly applicable to the relationship between the organization and the individual. The opposite, the decent organization, creates or maintains contexts, which either do not affect status of individuals or which even heighten the status of individuals or groups of individuals.

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