Skip to main content

About this book

This book discusses dignity in the organizational context. Combining diverse theoretical and methodological approaches, as well as empirical studies, this book examines the concept of dignity between organizations and a variety of stakeholders. Going beyond the traditional approach of the relationship between company and employees, and beyond the traditional perspective of human dignity in a Kantian or post-Kantian approach, this volume innovates by discussing dignity from different epistemic perspectives, bringing to the fore dignity, inserted in different organizational and cultural contexts.

The volume is divided into five parts. The first part is dedicated to the concept of dignity in the organizational sphere (dignity inside organizations, dignity between organizations and their stakeholders, and dignity in business-to-business relationships) discussed under different epistemic approaches.

The second part deals with dignity in the relationships between companies and employees. The third part deals with the relationship between companies and clients. The fourth part of the book studies business-to-business relationships, addressing the educational sector, restaurants, and microcredit. Finally, the fifth part focuses on the relationships between the organizational dignity construct and other constructs, such as stress, spirituality and trust. Opening new theoretical and methodological perspectives for the study of dignity, this book will be of use to researchers and students studying management, leadership, and business strategy, as well as management and HR professionals.

Table of Contents


Organizational Dignity: Different Perspectives


Chapter 1. From Dignity in Organizations to Dignity Between Organizations

This work aims to present an organizational dignity (OD) theory and discuss its usefulness in guiding the relationships between organizations, stakeholders and B2B relationships. The main question that drove the construction of OD theory was “what do stakeholders review when they evaluate the consequences of the actions that organizations for the stakeholders’ dignity carried out?” Then the answer to this main question is that stakeholders evaluate the consequences of the actions that are carried out by organizations for their dignity in terms of cultural elements (practices supported by values); ethics orientation (deontological or teleological); focus more personal or social-oriented focus (stakeholders focus), and classifying the OD of an organization from high to low, as moral, legal, or pragmatic. Stakeholders evaluate the dignity of a firm according to its practices toward them. It is in this sense that organizational dignity means the dignity of a firm is evaluated by stakeholders. The evaluation results of each element address the stage in which the organizations can be allocated and receive the degree of dignity for their relations with the stakeholders.
Maria Luisa Mendes Teixeira

Chapter 2. Organizational Dignity, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Business Ethics

This study aims to investigate the relationship between organizational ethics, business ethics, and social responsibility. The research was carried out in three steps. The first step was to review the relationship between organizational dignity and business ethics. Next, it reviewed the relationship between organizational dignity and corporate social responsibility. In a third stage, it identified the relationship between business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Finally, it investigated the relationship between all constructs. Each step corresponded to one study. The first study collected data from 214 administrative employees. The results showed that business ethics presented a predictive power of 28.1% in relation to the organizational dignity. The second study was carried out with 140 unspecified employees and 214 administrative employees. The results of both samples showed that corporate social responsibility explains more than 50% of organizational dignity. Finally, the third study showed that the business ethics mediates the relationship between corporate social responsibility and organizational dignity. It was possible to conclude that the three constructs are not interchangeable. The absence of organizational dignity practices may lead to the rupture of the relationship with the company, and the consequent loss of customers.
Vanessa Custódio Zorzetti Pollon, Francilene Araújo de Morais, Maria Luisa Mendes Teixeira

Chapter 3. Organizational Dignity in the Light of Boaventura Souza Santos Thoughts

The objective of this work is to study the organizational dignity from the theoretical perspective of Boaventura Sousa Santos. The chapter brings up the debate on this construct from a mixed epistemology that is situated on the frontiers of modern thought. The discussion starts from the idea that organizations are spaces of production that have a power structure, which manifests itself in the form of the exploitation of labor by capital, which is supported by the law of production and by scientific knowledge that guides towards productivism and for the management culture that as a rule produces absences of dignity in organizations. The production space is the locus where social interactions take place with absences and/or presences of dignity and which can be determined by the lack of recognition of the different knowledge and rights of workers.
Ana Lúcia de Medeiros

Chapter 4. Refuses to Be Governed as Discourses of Dignity: Dignity in the Foucauldian Perspective

In this chapter, we proposed thinking dignity in a Foucauldian light, in the sense that refusals to be governed are a way of expressing discourses of dignity, or even better, that discourses of dignity underlie the refusals to be governed. Refusals to be governed are expressions of discourses of dignity. These refusals are refusals to a government that does not recognize rights, demanding the recognition of non-recognized rights. The discourses of dignity are discourses that claim the recognition of rights, ultimately the right of not being governed. Therefore, refusals to be governed are not synonym to discourses of dignity. Rather, they are expressions of those underlying discourses, discourses about recognition of rights that effectively are synonyms to dignity. Not only discourses on legal rights, but any and all rights. Reading dignity in the Foucauldian light means discussing dignity in the scope of the power relationships. As organizations are social, political, and economic entities, understanding dignity in the organization’s context in the light of governmentality assumptions enables an analytical differential of dignity in the intra- and inter-organization relationships, opening new perspectives to management.
Jones Carlos Louback

Chapter 5. Organizational Dignity in the Interpretative Perspective

The objective of this chapter is to present organizational dignity from the interactionist perspective and to propose a theory capable of explaining the relationships between companies and the communities located in their geographical surroundings. The investigation was carried out through grounded theory in a community called here by the fictitious name “Litoral,” using as object of analysis the relations between members of the community and two companies—one national (Modelo), the other multinational (Capixaba). The residents’ expectations in relation to the company’s eager interest for the community of its geographic surroundings and the way it responds was at the central core of the proposed theory. The expectations of the community are shaped and reformatted in a dynamic relationship with the concrete or abstract tangibility of the company, the critical situations experienced and the business actions in response to these situations. The company’s zeal for the community is represented by symbols of dignity and objects of economic, environmental, socio-cultural or psycho-social dignity. The theory that emerged from the data address some important issues in order companies can trace strategies to cope to community expectations.
Bruno Felix von Borell de Araujo

Chapter 6. Dignity Under the Phenomenological Perspective

The main objective of this chapter is to bring a phenomenological perspective to dignity at work. First, it explains the main human process to phenomenology, i.e., the process of becoming, and how it relates to dignity. The process of becoming is dynamic and intersubjective. It occurs in all dimensions of human life, including work. Here are used the classic authors from phenomenology and social phenomenology, Kierkegaard and Buber, and Rogers, the main author from humanistic existential psychology to explain such a relation between work and becoming. The chapter shows a method to investigate that phenomenon, respecting the phenomenological epistemological position, and scientific criteria. This method was applied in a research with Brazilian professors, which brings evidence about the process of living dignity at work as a part of the process of becoming. This evidence shows a deep relationship between living dignity and being yourself. Their work brings a complex sense of achievement, connected to their essence, which is the core idea in connecting dignity to the process of becoming. Therefore, the major contribution of the chapter is to offer a humanistic, positive discussion about dignity at work, pointing out possible management strategies to promote such dignifying workplaces.
Claudia Segadilha Adler

Organizational Dignity in Employee Perception


Chapter 7. Organizational Dignity in the Perspective of Brazilian, Portuguese and Mozambican Employees

The aim of this chapter was to compare organizational dignity evaluated by employees of three countries: Brazil, Portugal, and Mozambique. These countries have some cultural aspects in common as Brazil and Mozambique were colonized by Portugal. Could the organizational dignity perceived by employees be the same? In order to achieve the objective of evaluating practices of organizational dignity perceived by Brazilian, Portuguese and Mozambican employees and answer the question, an organizational dignity taxonomy is proposed. The characteristics of a dignified organization were identified, and the EPRA-DO scale to measure organizational dignity practices was refined. The results showed that Brazilians, Portuguese, and Mozambican employees evaluate organizational dignity of the companies they worked for differently. The factor of organizational dignity Practices of Promotion of Employees impact Brazilian employees’ satisfaction almost twice as much as Portuguese and Mozambican. These results are important and call attention for management. In spite of the fact that the companies are in countries that have the same cultural root does not mean the employees evaluate the organizational dignity in the same way. These findings are especially important as organizational dignity influences the employee’s satisfaction with company.
Maria Luisa Mendes Teixeira, Silvia Marcia Russi De Domenico, Lucia Maria Barbosa de Oliveira

Chapter 8. Perception of Deaf People on Dignity in Organizations

The aim is to comprehend how organizational dignity is perceived by the deaf in their interactions with colleagues, bosses, and the organization itself. Organizational dignity is being studied, today, under several aspects. However, research is scarce on the relationship between dignity and organizational inclusion, focusing specifically on the deaf. A qualitative study was performed with interviews from 13 oral and non-oral deaf persons, employees in different segments. Most parts of deaf employees felt socially isolated, unconsidered in human resource practices as a target for organizational opportunities. Lack of oral language was the main difficulty for communication within the organization, although the maintenance of an interpreter is supported by law. Dignity for the deaf was based on the elements of valorizations, respect, and equality. The data suggest that the more intense the experience with the violation of dignity, the less the feeling of inclusion and the greater risk of social isolation of the deaf. It is believed that, among other aspects, an organizational position aimed at reciprocal recognition and mutual cultural enrichment will contribute to the improvement of the quality of relationships between the deaf and the hearing.
Rosana Juçara de Souza Reis, Michel Mott Machado, Hajnalka Halász Gati, James Anthony Falk

Chapter 9. Dignity in the Relationship Between the Brazilian and Other Latin American Workers

The purpose of this chapter was to discuss the projection and symbolization of the dignity of Latin American expatriates in Brazil. It is argued that the cultural adjustment of expatriates tends to suspend their cultural base producing vulnerability and promoting the violation of dignity. From a critical postmodern approach, it conducted ten face-to-face semi-structured interviews with expatriate executives from four South American countries, with symbolic cartography being the method of analysis adopted. It was found that the omission and neglect in organizational management tend to reproduce the projection of the dignity of the Latin American expatriate to the periphery of organizations. For practical applications to organizational management, it is recommended of a critical reflection on the expatriation process in organizations, from the top of organizations and based on an intercultural perspective, besides strategies aimed at building an organizational environment that values diversity, protecting dignity, and promoting well-being.
Michel Mott Machado

Chapter 10. Innovation in the People Agenda: A Dignity Narrative

The greatest challenge of management theory has been to cope with the new demands of society. Traditional management theories have their roots in classical economy which regards the individuals as “homo economicus” who are only interested in transactional relations to fulfill their own interests. This approach to business has resulted in external negative consequences such as environment degradation, pollution and the increasing of inequalities. Humanistic is the new paradigm proposed for managerial theory putting dignity and well-being in the center. This chapter presents a narrative of an HR director who assumed the aim of moving his company toward a humanistic paradigm. In this narrative, the context is explained as the stages (archetypes) the company has been going through from economism to humanism archetype, showing that the process is not linear, but complex. Hope that this narrative can illuminate other companies to move toward the humanistic management, in spite of the difficulty of the process and the business imperatives.
Marcos Baptistucci

Organizational Dignity in Customer Perception


Chapter 11. Dignity and Power Relations Between Call-Center Companies and Clients

The empirical research presented in this chapter aimed to discuss the power relations between a call center company and its customers, in a Foucauldian perspective. The study emphasizes the management performed by the company, constituting customers in productive and docile customers. Speeches of dignity reside on two levels: claiming rights and attempting government. The claiming of rights includes the right to information about the status of orders, correct information, respectful treatment, the right to compliance with the time of delivery, and the right to have moments of life free of the company’s effect of power. Government attempts range from claiming compensations for financial, psychological, and social damages to interference on the company management. The most forceful refusal, however, is in retaliation of the company. Retaliation takes different forms, from reporting in newspapers, discouraging friends from consuming the company’s services, suing the company in court, and rupturing with the company. As a theoretical contribution, it addresses the organization’s search for control and regulation of the customer. As a practical contribution, it seeks to shed light on a relationship that affects the daily lives of customers, in a society of consumers that is permeated by uneven power relations and ownership of resources.
Jones Carlos Louback

Chapter 12. Customer-Perceived Organizational Dignity

The dignity of customers is a topic that has not generally been the subject of scholars’ attention, despite the emergence of several institutions and laws that takes care of consumer protection, worldwide. This chapter argues that dignity is not only related to the human being, since groups of individuals behave differently in relation to one of their individual components; in this sense, we understand that organizations arise from associated social forms and norms that hold organizations responsible for customer dignity. In this context, inequalities in relations between companies and consumers arise, becoming sources that generates indignity. Thus, we present the process of validating a scale of organizational dignity practices and a scale of organizational values, both from the perspective of customer perception, making it possible to identify how the relationship of organizations and their customers is in aspects of practices related to dignity. Thereby, the PRADOC and VOPC-R scales can be used in periodic applications designed to monitor the culture of organizational dignity perceived by clients and through the results of these assessments contribute to outline strategies for improving the culture of dignity.
Mauro Silva Ferreira, Ronaldo de Lucio

Chapter 13. Dignity in the Application of Microcredit Resources

This study aimed to understand the application of microcredit resources by members of solidarity groups, in light of dignity. The investigation was carried out through the interpretative approach. A discussion group and 20 face-to-face interviews were conducted with members of solidarity groups, microcredit borrowers. The first relevant result of the survey was that not all microcredit borrowers were popular entrepreneurs, as expected. Among them, there were people who were not entrepreneurs (non-entrepreneurs), who used trickery to deceive microcredit institutions. The second result was that popular entrepreneurs invested the resources: in goods, reservation for payment of microcredit installments, and payment of old bills of the enterprise. The funds received by non-entrepreneurs were to be passed on to entrepreneurs. Dignity in the application of microcredit resources, for different purposes, only makes sense if it is explained as conditional dignity socially and historically constructed varying in space and time. This investigation contributes in a practical way for microcredit organizations to rethink their missions, more updated toward the real needs of popular entrepreneurs.
Gilvanete Dantas de Oliveira Pereira

Dignity in the Relationship Between Suppliers and Customers


Chapter 14. Dignity as Perceived by Suppliers in the Business-to-Business Segment

The business relationship between companies is influenced or even governed by factors such as power, hierarchical position of involved professionals, size, and level of financial dependence between them. In B2B relationships, suppliers can be neglected and considered interchangeable, with prioritization for relationships based on dominance increased profits. Companies tend to have bargaining power over suppliers and customers, and a symmetrical relationship leads to a violation of dignity. This study presents how suppliers evaluate the dignity of customers. For this, the supplier-perceived dignity scale DIGC-B2B was developed and validated. Thereby, with the objective to investigate the concept of what a worthy customer is in the B2B relationship, 109 companies participated. In this way, we sought to expand theoretical knowledge about dignity and contribute to companies in their commercial relations. The periodic monitoring of organizational dignity through the DIGC-B2B scale allows companies to know and monitor how their suppliers perceive them as a dignified company. The dignified relationship between companies can affect purchasing conditions, price, and terms, in addition to the quality of products, and helps associations to evolve in the stages of organizational dignity practices.
Guilherme Kosmann, Ronaldo de Lucio

Chapter 15. (In)dignity in Restaurant–Supplier Relationships: The Perspective of Managers

This chapter aims to contribute to answering this question: what criteria managers involved in business-to-business relationships apply to evaluate the dignity of suppliers? The study comprised 29 restaurant managers in Recife, Pernambuco; one of the most important gastronomic centers in Brazil. By the time of the study, the restaurants were operational for at least 10 years, and customers ranged from 100 to more than 5000 a day. The restaurant managers pointed out three categories of problems related to the relationship with their suppliers: product delivery time and schedule; flexibility to change and return products; control of the quality and quantity of products. The findings have shown that vulnerability is inherent to the context of business-to-business restaurants and suppliers, but this condition is not enough to characterize a violation of dignity. It depends on the suppliers’ intention of taking advantage of the restaurant managers. Business-to-business relationships of dignity depend on the alignment between micro-norms and hyper-norms, high trust and reliance between managers involved in the micro-contracts, and the intention of managers of not taking advantages of each other. This study innovates by putting the subject of dignity in the heart of the organizations–suppliers relationship.
Lucia Maria Barbosa de Oliveira, Maria Luisa Mendes Teixeira, Vera Lúcia da Silva Cabral

Relationship of Dignity with Other Constructions


Chapter 16. The Relationship Between Stress and Organizational Dignity in a Financial Institution

This study aimed to identify the degree of association between the level of stress perceived by bank workers and their perception of organizational dignity practices. The survey was conducted at “Bank X.” It is one of the largest banks in Latin America. Bank X advocates social and environmental responsibility through business practices. The study is the result of a quantitative survey with 401 employees. Two measurement scales were applied—the work stress scale (Paschoal & Tamayo, 2004) and the organizational dignity practices (EPRA-DO) scale (Teixeira et al., 2004). The results suggest that Bank X implements practices that help bank workers deal with stress, despite perceiving it, such as organizational dignity practices. There is an association between organizational dignity and stress in the banking work setting, indicating that the more bank workers perceive that the company is acting in a dignified way through its practices in relation to stakeholders, the less they perceive a stress and suffer therefrom. The main lesson learned from the investigation is that in order to reduce workers’ stress, it seems to be important investing in dignified relationships with stakeholders emerges as one of the potential antidotes against bank workers’ stress.
Jonathan Borges de Melo Valença, Lucia Maria Barbosa de Oliveira

Chapter 17. The Relationship Between Spirituality and Dignity Perceived by Managers and Non-Managers

The work presented in this chapter aimed at expanding knowledge about the relation between spirituality and dignity in the work context. The main objective was to review the relation between organizational dignity and spirituality. The analysis of the difference between spirituality and the organizational dignity perceived by managers and non-managers was a complementary objective. The research comprised 610 managers and 546 non-managers in corporations of different segments in the Northeast region of Brazil. The study was based on the scales by Spirituality of Rego et al. (2005), and of practices of dignity, EPRA-DO by Teixeira et al. (2014). The results pointed out that spirituality and organizational dignity are positively related and managers perceive organizational dignity and experience of spirituality more positively than non-manager employees. This research demonstrates the crucial role of monitoring the employees’ evaluation about the alignment of their values with those of the company, and their perception about the practices of promotion of employees oriented to them. Other results have pointed out the different perceptions about the factors of spirituality and organizational dignity considering gender, age group, education, length of work, type, and size of the company.
Lindevany Hoffimann de Lima Mendes, Lucia Maria Barbosa de Oliveira

Chapter 18. The Role of Trust in Building Relationships of Dignity: A Case Study on the Street Market in Vulnerable Conditions

This chapter aims to present how trust contributes to the construction of dignity relationships between marketers and customers in street markets and the contribution of trust to build relationships of solidarity to overcome vulnerability and preserve the marketers’ dignity. The street market of Campina Grande, in the Brazilian Northeast region, was elected to this study. This traditional street market exists in precarious conditions and dates back to the city’s origin. To develop the work presented in this chapter, we used ethnographic methods with immersion in the street market experience, observations, in addition to 35 interviews with marketers and customers. Results show that people in vulnerability situations are likely to get together in relationships of solidarity to overcome vulnerability and preserve their dignity. These relations are enabled by relationships of trust and friendship. This study proves that even in adverse conditions of vulnerability people seek alternatives to preserve their dignity, despite the disrespect and unworthy treatment the disadvantaged ones receive by those in advantageous positions. This chapter contributes to the readers’ consideration about the power of trust to overcome the conditions of vulnerability and build dignity relationships.
Francilene Araújo de Morais

Chapter 19. Dignity and Well-Being at Work

Traditionally, studies on dignity at work have been developed a qualitative approach. For this reason, little is known about the relationship between dignity in the workplace and other constructs. In 2018, Thomas and Lucas developed a workplace dignity measurement scale, which allows investigating the following issue: what is the influence of dignity at work and personal organizational well-being? To answer this research question, the study had to identify the influence of dignity at work on employees’ personal organizational well-being. Dignity at work consists in own and others’ acknowledgement of the value acquired by the individuals engaging in work in a setting of interaction with other people. Personal organizational well-being is a dynamic process in connection with work that presupposes reciprocal relationships between workers and organizations. The investigation was carried out with 211 Brazilian workers from different business segments. The results pointed out that organizational dignity influences the personal well-being significantly. The greater the breadth of the employees’ dignity perception, the greater their level of well-being in the organization. If managers want to improve the employee’s well-being, it is important to improve organizational dignity.
Maria Luisa Mendes Teixeira, Maria das Graças Torres Paz, Sarah Santos Alves
Additional information

Premium Partner

    Image Credits