Essay about Cynicism at the Workplace

2372 Words 10 Pages
Cynicism at the workplace comes in many different forms and seems to have increased in the last few years in light of mass layoffs, mergers, and corporate scandals (Anderson, 1996). In 1991, Mirvis and Kanter reported that 43% of American workers exhibited highly cynical attitudes toward work. The popularity of the comic strip Dilbert further indicates the prevalence of cynicism in today’s work place (Dean, Brandes, & Dharkwadkar, 1998). A Google search on ‘cynicism at the workplace’ produced 408 000 results, including a segment on NPR from May 2007 dealing with the topic of cynicism. The anchor only half-jokingly remarked that General Motors’ employees had good reason to be cynical in the face of plant closings and the loss of more than …show more content…
The term cynicism can be traced back to its roots in ancient Greece describing a group of people who showed contempt towards society, which focused on the pursuit of material goods (Andersson, 1996; Andersson & Bateman, 1997; Dean, Brandes, & Dharkwadkar, 1998). Nowadays, the most commonly accepted and widely quoted definition is provided by Dean, Brandes and Dharkwadkar (1998) who posit that cynicism is a negative attitude towards one’s employing organization, consisting of three elements “(1) a belief that the organization lacks integrity; (2) negative affect toward the organization; (3) tendencies to disparaging and critical behaviors (p. 345).” The cynical belief system is founded on the notion that people and the organizations they work in lack sincerity, act mostly based on self interest, and have hidden agendas. Cynical employees believe that they are exploited and not adequately compensated (Andersson & Bateman, 1997). Even genuine, socially responsible initiatives of organizations such as community involvement or protection of the environment are regarded with suspicion (Abraham, 2000; Dean, Brandes, & Dharkwadkar, 1998). The affective dimension of cynicism can stretch from anger and disgust to secret enjoyment about the faults of the

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