The video depicts a clear case of persistent sexual harassment of an employee by her boss. Sexual harassment is an illegal activity and aside from the violation of individual rights is associated with a wide array of psychological, behavioral, and social negative effects. From a Weberian perspective, however, a separate list of organizational consequences can be identified.
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First, the motivation behind the harassment needs to be determined. In all instances, except the first one, the boss is exhibiting the dominant position, speaking authoritatively and paying little attention to the signs of the employee’s discomfort. Such display is not characteristic for behavior caused by romantic attraction and suggests that the manifestation of power is at least one of the leading causes.
This is consistent with the current understanding of the phenomenon: the majority of incidents of sexual harassment are driven by the power abuse (McLaughlin, Uggen, & Blackstone 2012). According to Weber, power is ‘the probability that one actor within a social relationship will be in a position to carry out his/her own will despite resistance, regardless of the basis on which this probability rests’ (Kronman 1983, p. 38). Again, this is consistent with what is known about the sexual harassment.
Obviously, such manifestation of power is unacceptable for most of the organizational theories, including Weberian. First, it introduces ambiguity and uncertainty into a bureaucratic structure. According to the classical organizational theory, this leads to the disruption of the organizational system, which is highly anticipated in this case as well: the violation of workplace ethics will put an employee under constant stress and compromise the productivity and efficiency of the working process.
In addition, such actions clearly contradict the role assigned to the managers by Weber (control and organization of workers): aside from being outside the scope of said activities, the authority of the boss gets irreparably disrupted by his behavior, leading to the loss of trust and presenting each of his orders as possibly biased by the power abuse.
A separate attention should be paid to a suggestion of a promotion voiced by the boss on Friday. Similarly to the disruption of authority, it undermines the integrity of the hierarchical organization. This effect will likely be observable across the company, as other employees will change their view regarding the promotion mechanisms. In other words, the productivity will not be regarded as a factor responsible for the professional growth. Combined with the effects of stress experienced by the staff members and the overall decline of commitment usually associated with sexual harassment (Nielsen & Einarsen 2012), it is likely that the company will experience a range of organizational throwbacks, not to mention the loss of employees.
In my opinion, the situation is complicated by the fact that the figure with the most power is the facilitator of the behavior, and thus cannot be solved from within. However, external support can be sought to provide legal, informational, and social help. While there is no guarantee that the intervention will result in a better workplace environment, it is clear that leaving the matters unaddressed will lead to an organizational disaster.
Nielsen, M & Einarsen, S 2012, ‘Prospective relationships between workplace sexual harassment and psychological distress’, Occupational Medicine, vol. 62, no. 3, pp. 226-228.
Kronman, A 1983, Max Weber, Stanford University Press, Stanford.
McLaughlin, H, Uggen, C, & Blackstone, A 2012, ‘Sexual harassment, workplace authority, and the paradox of power’, American sociological review, vol. 77, no. 4, pp. 625-647.