Engagement with work has been one of the most influential management ideas of recent decades. A prevalent assumption is that engagement is inherently beneficial and disengagement is a problem to be addressed. Yet theory and research on disengagement show it may not have the assumed negative impact on organizations, and at times may be beneficial for employees. This research seeks to unpack the underlying assumptions of work disengagement through collating and reviewing studies of the phenomenon. The paper makes three contributions. First, it provides a clear argument for why disengagement is a concept worth studying in its own right, as a functional coping response. Second, it offers a typology of the antecedents that applies to current theoretical frameworks. Third, it suggests differentiating between engaged, not engaged, and disengaged to address various levels of dedication to work domains and provide a basis for more evidence-based HR interventions.