Reimagining alienation within a relational framework: evidence from the public sector in Ireland and the UK

Edel Conway*, Kathy Monks, Na Fu, Kerstin Alfes, Katie Bailey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This paper provides a counterbalance to the emphasis on positive psychology within recent HRM scholarship by utilizing a relational framework to explore the antecedents and outcomes of alienation. We focus on the associations between relational features of work–prosocial impact, employee voice and role overload–and job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion and explore whether alienation mediates these relationships. Drawing on data from two public sector organizations in Ireland and the UK (n = 1455), our findings show that the relationships between these three work features and job satisfaction are fully mediated by alienation. In the case of emotional exhaustion, our findings indicate that perceptions of the relational elements of prosocial impact and employee voice may give rise to higher levels of exhaustion where employees are alienated. The study’s contribution lies in its identification of alienation as an important mechanism through which relational work features influence well-being. In addition, by drawing on a relational framework utilised within the engagement literature, the study makes a first attempt in drawing alienation into the wider nomological net proffered by the engagement literature. Thus, it provides new insights into the nature and importance of understanding alienation in contemporary workplaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2673-2694
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number21
Early online date26 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

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