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The Discursive Dimension of Employee Engagement and Disengagement

Accounts of keeping and leaving jobs in present-day Bucharest organizations

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Alina Petra Marinescu

The book analyses organizational disengagement and its consequences at an organizational and at an individual level. The author argues for the existence of an additional dimension of employee disengagement, namely discursive disengagement. It is a distinctive dimension with respect to its dependence on a specific work of the employee. The author engages with discourse analysis to classify employee disengagement trajectories, vocabularies of motive and rhetorical resources. She analyses how people frame their decisions of staying or leaving organizations by defining their employment situation and how they justify their choices through their professional experiences.

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3 Theoretical grounding

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3 Theoretical grounding

My study is aimed at understanding processes and decisions of keeping and leaving jobs in present-day Bucharest organizations. To meet my research goal, I start from interview accounts and study the unfolding of organizational disengagement.

In dialogue with current studies of employee disengagement (Shuck, Wollard, 2010; Macey, Schneider, 2008; Saks, 2006; Schaufeli, Bakker, Salanova, 2006; Kahn, 1990) and in line with the three already studied components of the process of disengagement (cognitive, behavioral and emotional) (Wollard, 2011), I aim to conceptualize a new facet of the process, namely “discursive disengagement”.

I look to identify several discursive types and sub-types of employee disengagement, several vocabularies of motive (Mills, 1940) and rhetorical features employed to justify persistence or abandonment.

If until now the concept has been studied mostly in a positivistic perspective, I engage with discourse analysis to classify employee disengagement trajectories, vocabularies of motive and rhetorical resources that might help employers, employees and coaching practitioners to deal with organizational disengagement and its unwanted consequences at an organizational and at individual level. My methodological approach might help employees understand better their working situation and be able to find alternative definitions of their professional display, so they wouldn’t stay prisoner to an initial discursive option that would continuously update itself by reiterating the same premises.

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