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Reciprocity in the Capitalist Workforce Essay

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Updated: Jul 10th, 2021

To gain prosperity and stability in business, any organization relies on several determinants of success. These aspects usually include a strong leadership and management team, a wise resource distribution, and, last but not least, employees. Without the loyalty of people working in a company, no manager can reach positive outcomes. However, it has become increasingly harder for US organizations to retain their workers due to a variety of causes. Organizational behavior has undergone crucial changes due to three major factors. Firstly, the level of job disengagement and dissatisfaction has become omnipresent and tends to be exacerbating. Secondly, management approaches have a negative impact on employee satisfaction. Thirdly, the majority of companies have failed to implement the policy of employee engagement despite the fact that the requirements are quite common and easy to follow.[1] All of these factors separately or in a combination contribute to the problem of poor human resource management, which inevitably leads to high turnover and low job satisfaction. Hence, a viable solution to this aggravating issue is increasing the level of reciprocity between employers and their workers, which can be attained through various approaches.

The major reason why the rate of reciprocity between the two core constituent forces of any company is that employees have lost trust in their employers. More and more research studies indicate that the level of distrust in management is “pervasive.”[2] Reports reveal dramatic data, such as nearly half of employees considering that their top management lacks integrity and honesty.[3] A growing feeling of distrust leads to detrimental outcomes for companies: many workers lose interest and do not hesitate to leave the place where they feel unappreciated. Job layoffs are known to play a negative function in this concern. Employees are rarely willing to work hard and generate new ideas on productivity enhancement if they know that there is a high likelihood of losing a position.[4]

Another factor influencing workers’ dissatisfaction is the impossibility of sustaining the work-life balance optimally.[5] Nowadays, more and more women obtain education and work in the same positions as men. As a result, many families are composed of two working parents, which necessitates additional expenses on childcare. When a worker puts family first and misses parts of some important projects, the manager is likely to depreciate such an employee irrespective of the reasons. Instead of supporting family-work balance, employees only focus on the ‘work’ aspect, leaving the problems of family arrangement to employees who become torn between these two elements. Additionally, there is also a problem of employers’ breaking promises made to employees, such as covering pensions and health insurance aspects.[6] Finally, there is also a problem of bullying and other negative psychological phenomena at the workplace. Employers should become friendlier toward their employees and strive for reciprocity in order to eliminate the occurrence of such negative issues.

When determining an organization’s performance, specialists pay much attention to its management style. Research findings report that managerial approaches influence not only profitability but also productivity and quality of companies’ work.[7] Despite the existence of a variety of opinions, the majority of researchers agree that a high-commitment work arrangement is of utmost importance for successful management.[8] It is necessary to emphasize that to increase employee commitment; managers need to invest in education and training. When employees are given an opportunity to expand their knowledge and develop new skills, the organization increases employment security and reduces the turnover rate. A crucial component of his phase is the inclusion of workers in decision-making, which also boosts their motivation and loyalty.[9] To understand how all of the mentioned approaches influence productivity, managers need to employ the organizational behavior perspective, which involves three significant principles. Firstly, employees should be considered as social creatures whose behavior is affected by relationships with others.[10] Secondly, workers want their organization to be governed by justice and fairness. Thirdly, organizations should view their activity in a social context where they interact with other companies.

Taking into consideration the benefits of organizational behavior perspective, it seems strange why so many firms fail to implement the advantageous principles in their work processes. Despite acknowledging the benefits of high-commitment strategies, many companies do not use them.[11] One of the reasons for such statistics is that the implementation of new methods may be costly. For example, spending resources on employee training and education may not be justified if workers do not have an opportunity to exercise them in independent practice. Another problem is related to environmental factors preventing companies from introducing innovative methods. Finally, there is also the issue of institutional theory, which presupposes that organizations copy some approaches thoughtlessly merely because many other companies use them.[12] Firms that are tied to others through various networks tend to imitate their partners’ methods more frequently than employing independent ones. However, even self-sufficient organizations are not secured against making managerial mistakes.

When analyzing the lack of reciprocity in labor relationships, it is crucial to discuss the disparity between the generally accepted American values and capitalistic values. At the core of American values, there are such concepts as freedom, volunteerism, and equality. In addition, such important aspects as materialism and individualism belong to this category. These values presuppose that employees take care of their financial stability, but they are also interested in increasing opportunities for expressing their unique ideas and helping out those in need. Unfortunately, the core capitalistic notion contradicts these intentions. Capitalism is largely focused on reaching the goals of profitability and competitiveness. Under such circumstances, many employees do not have the options they require to grow and develop.

The interests of employers and employees are rather disparate, which creates further complications in communication and leads to a lack of agreement. Employers are concentrated on retaining the companies’ profits and winning over their competitors. Meanwhile, employees want not only to receive financial payment for their work but also to obtain some spiritual reward for their efforts. In other words, managers and employees have a different vision of the working process. The former is more interested in results, whereas the latter want their efforts during the working process to be considered as well. Such a sharp imbalance leads to the loss of motivation in workers. Unfortunately, employers notice the dramatic outcomes too late, when the number of dissatisfied employees becomes critically large, and the organization starts losing competitive advantage. To reduce the risk of such occurrences, the two parties need to spend more time discussing the issues that are worrying each of them and finding relevant resolutions.

Motivation has always been the most crucial aspect of developing employee loyalty and job satisfaction. Recent studies indicate that there are three major dimensions of disagreement in motivational drivers, each of them being related to the reciprocity aspect.[13] The first set of problems is concerned with incompatibility is the wrong organization of motivation. While employers tend to encourage their workers by external features, employees are more predisposed toward internal rewards.[14] The second common problem concerned with motivation is the way in which managers think about their companies’ work. Frequently, the managerial approach is “predictably irrational,” which makes members of the team consider changing a position to a new one that may not be as lucrative but at least offers a sense of purpose.[15] Finally, there is also the challenge associated with the way in which the work is performed. Offering opportunities for heuristic rather than algorithmic tasks may increase employees’ interest and loyalty.[16] Unfortunately, in an attempt to gain results faster, many managers neglect the creativity and freedom aspects that are so crucial for workers. Thus, the lack of reciprocity in establishing and perceiving motivation plays a detrimental role.

Relationships between employers and employees are governed by a variety of internal and external factors. However, the most prominent of these is the ability to communicate and collaborate in order to understand each other’s eminent goals and promote their achievement. Reciprocity is vital in business relations, but it has not gained sufficient attention in the capitalist workforce. Too often, employers neglect their workers’ needs and break promises made to employees because of the primary goal to maximize profits. In the process of gaining success, capitalist organizations forget that their achievements depend on the people working in them. Therefore, it is crucial to enhance the level of reciprocity in modern organizations.


Pfeffer, Jeffrey. “Human Resources from an Organizational Behavior Perspective: Some Paradoxes Explained.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 21, no. 4 (2007): 115-134.

Pink, Daniel H. “The Rise and Fall of Motivation 2:0.” In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, edited by D. H. Pink, 13-31. New York: Riverhead Books, 2009.


  1. Jeffrey Pfeffer, “Human Resources from an Organizational Behavior Perspective: Some Paradoxes Explained,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 21, no. 4 (2007): 115.
  2. Pfeffer, “Human Resources,” 116.
  3. Pfeffer, “Human Resources,” 116.
  4. Ibid., 116.
  5. Ibid., 117.
  6. Ibid., 117.
  7. Pfeffer, “Human Resources,” 119.
  8. Ibid., 119.
  9. Ibid., 119.
  10. Ibid., 120.
  11. Pfeffer, “Human Resources,” 124.
  12. Ibid., 126.
  13. Daniel H. Pink, “The Rise and Fall of Motivation 2:0,” in Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, ed. D. H. Pink (New York: Riverhead Books, 2009), 20.
  14. Pink, “The Rise and Fall,” 21.
  15. Ibid., 26.
  16. Ibid., 29.
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IvyPanda. 2021. "Reciprocity in the Capitalist Workforce." July 10, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/reciprocity-in-the-capitalist-workforce/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Reciprocity in the Capitalist Workforce'. 10 July.

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