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Vertical To Horizontal: A New Workplace Reality

Written by Rune Kvist Olsen Saturday, 08 April 2006

The consequences of humiliation in the workplace

The humiliation and desperation that arises from loss of control over a person's work-situation, can lead to tragic reactions and responses. When people are not allowed to express themselves to a superior because of fear of losing their job, people can suffer illness and other damage. The human being is expected to behave conform, submit and oppress his or her personal feelings and needs, as a production factor in the pure interest of the organization's economic self-interest. Therefore upper hierarchical positions demand the type of persons who are callous, aggressive and cynical in their treatment of others. These traits are believed to be necessary in order to coerce subordinate people to function efficiently according to the organization's standards, norms and values. If people do not obey and submit to these management standards, they can be, according to the standards, rules and regulations, "justly" exposed to punishment and sanctions.

The desire to climb over others, to compete and to win over others is described as being ambitious and is a main value in the hierarchical and vertical organizational structure. This climbing behaviour is rewarded by promotions, higher ranks and more advanced positions. This climbing does not concern the conscience of the organization, even if the climbing over others seriously dehumanizes and damages both the passed-over and the run-over person and the climber as a person.

When callous individuals aggressively climb the organizational ladder to gain personal advantage, power and control at the expense of others without any concern or conscience at all, they are - through their promotion - taking part in the shaping of organizational practises and standards. This "vertical flow" movement up the hierarchy then forms a type of institutionalized psychopathy. Contemporary economic ideology justifies this practise of competition in the self-interest of man in the vertical based organization. This type of practise is beyond comprehension in the sense that decent people who join up in vertical organizations adhering to such policies, are forced to follow these callous practises in order to survive in such organizations.

To get rid of these suppressive and oppressive forces, we must reach down to the root cause of the control and domination patterns in work-life. Just changing the term "competition" to "cooperation" without making fundamental changes in the power-structure, does not change the essence of the relationships at all. These terms do not remove the existential fact that as long as someone exercises control over others, then we will never get collaboration and cooperation with its essential equal access and equal influence over the decision making process. As Krossa3 says: Denying shared power over decision making processes that affect people, violates peoples' sense of equality and freedom and therefore violates the basic humanity of all involved in a process or organization. If a decision comes from people who are affected by the decision in their daily work-life, then those people will support and will take responsibility for the implementation of the decision as they will feel ownership of the decision and its implementation. People naturally will take responsibility for the consequences of decisions that are their own, but will resent and resist decisions that are imposed on them from others.

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