Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: October 2009

10 - Romantic relationships at work: old issues, new challenges

Summary

Sex and romance develop in offices because that's where the people are. Men and women … are likely to get together in ways not mentioned in the corporate policy manual.

(Horn and Horn, 1982: 83)

Over the past several decades, increasing numbers of individuals have been meeting their significant others at work. This means that in addition to professional relationships and social friendships in the workplace, romantic relationships are adding another dynamic into workplace interactions. Indeed, conditions in today's workplace are such that romantic relationships may well be inevitable. Given this, managers can take one of two approaches. The first and most frequent approach is to focus on preventing such relationships and their potentially negative consequences. However, a more recent development in the organizational literature provides a new perspective for how organizations view their employees; positive psychology and positive organizational behavior suggest that work experiences can promote mental health (Turner, Barling, and Zacharatos, 2002). Thus, the second approach changes the practitioner's primary focus from the costs of romantic relationships at work to include potential benefits. At a time when organizations are increasingly focusing on employee health, organizations may find ways to promote positive mental health gains (and limit any damage) for their employees through supporting romantic relationships.

Consistent with this new perspective, the purpose of this chapter is twofold.

References
Barling, J. (1990). Employment, stress and family functioning. Chichester: Wiley.
Bordwin, M. (1994). Containing Cupid's arrow. Small Business Reports 19: 53–8.
Byrne, D. and Neuman, J. H. (1992). The implications of attraction research for organizational issues. In Kelly, K. (ed.), Issues, theory and research in industrial/organizational psychology (pp. 29–70). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Cohen, S. (2004). Social relationships and health. American Psychologist 59: 676–84.
Foley, S. and Powell, G. N. (1999). Not all is fair in love and work: co-workers’ preferences for and responses to managerial interventions regarding workplace romances. Journal of Organizational Behavior 20: 1043–56.
Greenberg, J. (1994). Using socially fair treatment to promote acceptance of a work site smoking ban. Journal of Applied Psychology 79: 288–97.
Horn, P. D. and Horn, J. (1982). Sex in the office. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley.
Jones, G. E. (1999). Hierarchal workplace romance: an experimental examination of team member perceptions. Journal of Organizational Behavior 20: 1057–72.
Karl, K. A. and Sutton, C. L. (2000). An examination of the perceived fairness of workplace romance policies. Journal of Business and Psychology 14: 429–42.
Loughlin, C. and Barling, J. (2001). Young workers’ work values, attitudes, and behaviors. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology 74: 543–58.
Mainiero, L. (1986). A review and analysis of power dynamics in organizational romances. Academy of Management Review 11: 750–62.
Mainiero, L.(1989). Office romance: love, power and sex in the workplace. New York: Rawson Associates.
Paul, R. J. and Townsend, J. B. (1998). Managing the workplace romance: protecting employee and employer rights. Review of Business 19: 25–31.
Pfeffer, J. (1981). Power in organizations. Marshfield, MA: Pitman.
Pierce, C. A. and Aguinis, H. (2001). A framework for investigating the link between workplace romance and sexual harassment. Group and Organizational Management 26: 206–29.
Pierce, C. A. and Aguinis, H.(2003). Romantic relationships in organizations. Management Research 1: 161–9.
Pierce, C. A. and Aguinis, H.(2004). Responding to sexual harassment complaints: effects of a dissolved workplace romance on decision-making standards. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes 95: 66–82.
Pierce, C. A., Aguinis, H., and Adams, S. (2000). Effects of a dissolved workplace romance and rater characteristics on responses to a sexual harassment accusation. Academy of Management Journal 43: 869–80.
Pierce, C. A., Bryne, D., and Aguinis, H. (1996). Attraction in organizations: a model of workplace romance. Journal of Organizational Behavior 17: 5–32.
Powell, G. N. (1986). What do tomorrow's managers think about sexual intimacy in the workplace?Business Horizons July–August: 30–6.
Powell, G. N.(2001). Workplace romances between senior-level executives and lower-level employees: an issue of work disruption and gender. Human Relations 54: 1519–44.
Quinn, R. E. (1977). Coping with Cupid: the formation, impact, and management of romantic relationships in organizations. Administrative Science Quarterly 22: 30–45.
Quinn, R. E. and Lees, P. L. (1984). Attraction and harassment: dynamics of sexual harassment in the workplace. Organizational Dynamics 13: 35–46.
Raver, J. L. and Gelfand, M. J. (2005). Beyond the individual victim: linking sexual harassment, team processes, and team performance. Academy of Management Journal 48: 387–400.
Riach, K. and Wilson, K. (2006). Don't screw the crew. British Journal of Management 17: 1–14.
Rosston, G. (2004). For whom the bridge tolls? Retrieved November 17, 2005. From San Francisco Chronicle. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2004/08/27/EDGMQ8EQ931.DTL.
Schaefer, C. M. and Tudor, T. R. (2001). Managing workplace romances. SAM Advanced Management Journal 66: 4–11.
Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) (1998). Workplace romance survey. Alexandria, VA: SHRM Public Affairs Department.
Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review 93: 119–35.
Turner, N., Barling, J., and Zacharatos, A. (2002). Positive psychology at work. In Snyder, C. R. and Lopez, S. (eds.), The handbook of positive psychology (pp. 715–30). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Twenge, J. M., Baumeister, R. F., Tice, D. M., and Stucke, T. S. (2001). If you can't join them, beat them: effects of social exclusion on aggressive behavior. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 81: 1058–69.
Zohar, D. (2000). A group-level model of safety climate: testing the effect of group climate on microaccidents in manufacturing jobs. Journal of Applied Psychology 85: 587–96.
Zohar, D.(2002). The effects of leadership dimensions, safety climate and assigned priorities on minor injuries in work groups. Journal of Organizational Behavior 23: 75–92.