Interpersonal Dynamics

A Communitarian Perspective
Paper to MCA-ENROAC Conference, Antwerp, 7th-9th April 2005
Rory Ridley-Duff (March 2005),

Full Paper Available:
Sheffield Hallam University

• Background
– Theoretical Perspectives

– Methodology

• Contributions to Knowledge
– Theory of Relationship Dynamics
– Theory of Social Influence

• Comments and Implications

• Reluctant Paper
– Sensitive topic (“intimacy at work”)
– “Uncivilised” subject (Elias, Gummesson)

• Why Write It?
– Position at 12 months (prepared to ignore)

– Position at 18 months (could not ignore)

• Impact of Investigating

Perspectives on Power/Hierarchy
• Business Views (a sample)
– Williamson (Transaction Costs Economics)
– Etzioni (Bureaucratic v Normative Control) – French and Raven (Bases of Social Power)

• Political Views (a sample)
– Lukes (3 tiers power: resources, agenda control, ideology)

– Michels (“Iron law of oligarchy”)

• “Power as the ability to influence or control the choices of others”

Perspectives on Power/Gender
• Male Dominance
– Patriarchy as Reality (Friedan/Rowbottom)
– Male Control/Violence (Faludi, Wolf, Dworkin)

• Co-Determination
– Cross-socialisation (Farrell, Kakabadse)
– Patriarchy as Discourse (Goldberg, Hoff Sommers)

• “Power as the ability to act in accordance with our own desires and choices”

• 18 Months in the Field
– Journals, Documents, Interviews
– 6 organisation “cases” (5 Formal, 1 Informal)

– Over 100 individuals “cases” (organised into 30 discourses)

• Grounded Approach (Glaser & Strauss, Locke)
– Open, Axial, Core “Coding” – Verification/Saturation

• Critical Analysis (Thomas, Dey)
– Discourse and Case Analysis

Why Interact?
• Assistance (Economic Domain)
– Physical
– Intellectual – Material

• Attention (Social Domain)
– Access
– Information – Emotion

Assistance (Economic Domain)
Physical Meeting, Travelling, Relocating, Organising, Making

Intellectual Material

Organising, Theorising, Teaching, Evaluating, Noticing, Checking Paying, Awarding, Feeding, Gifting

“She was arguing that because of the Data Protection Act “you can’t say anything to anyone unless they need to know” because you are in breach of the Act. We talked about the problem of divulging financial information. I asked how can we validate the fairness of a pay system if the information has to be kept private? I found there were anomalies in the pay system – that two directors were paid more than the maximum in the policy presented to staff – and that this could never be exposed if this information was kept private. It was quite a debate.”
FileRef: JN2, para 1484 - Ben/Diane at the pub

Attention (Social Domain)
Access Information To People, Ideas, Resources Touching, Looking, Smiling

About People, Ideas, Sexual stories, Tasks jokes, “love lives”


Expressing, Understanding

Flirting, Caring, Complimenting

“Darling Hayley. I went and got a card and cakes for her birthday and when I gave them to her she gave me a hug. She kept coming up and interrupting me. I’m sure she didn’t need to, she just liked to. She was wearing a lovely black top today so I didn’t mind being interrupted by her at all. I asked if she was going to get an outfit for her leaving do and she said “yes”. Then she asked if I would walk her back to her car [after her leaving party] – and she gave me such a look that I began to wonder what would happen if I did.”

FileRef: JN2, para 1392, 1242 - Ben/Hayley at work

Theory of Social Influence
Attention (Social Domain)

Desire for intimacy


Incentive to agree

Decision Making Processes
Greater dependency Incentive to agree




(Assistance) Economic Domain

Decision Making Processes
Desire for intimacy
Meaning of Situation (Previous Experience) Yes No No Opport unities

Incentive to agree
Positive Dissonance Internalisation
(Value Change)



Threat s


Acce pt


Yes Create New Option

Negative Dissonance

Existing Values Compliance No
(Value Rigidity)

Greater dependency

Incentive to agree

Comments on Theory
• Social Rationality
– Oriented toward relationship formation/destruction – Emotional Attention (gain access, obtain information)

• Economic Rationality
– Oriented toward completion/avoidance of tasks – Material Assistance (intellectual skill, physical help)

• Relationships
– Bounded (can only act on what is known) – Intentional (select knowledge based on intentions)

Comments on Literature
• Power
– Authoritarian behaviour linked to powerlessness and isolation – Resistance to social influence as important as influencing others

• Group Process (“GroupThink”)
– …two-way subordination and intersubjectivity – …hierarchy as a bottom-up process as well as top-down – …conscious gendered behaviours contribute to hierarchy

• Implications
– Rejection of unitarist outlook – fails empirical test – Corporate governance as communication between stakeholders