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Morgan-Jones, R. (2009). When Work Takes Control, by Pernille Rasmussen, London, Karnac, 2008.. Organ. Soc. Dyn., 9(2):269-273.

(2009). Organizational and Social Dynamics, 9(2):269-273

Book Review

When Work Takes Control, by Pernille Rasmussen, London, Karnac, 2008.

Review by:
Richard Morgan-Jones

Now here is a topical book and a timely one. Pernille Rasmussen has done an excellent job in producing a highly accessible text on the complex subject of the experience of workaholism. I say topical and timely, because those of us who work as managers, trainers, employees, or consultants are affected by the major shifts in work ethic that have taken place over the past ten years.

A typical example came my way recently. A senior management team was being downsized from eleven to eight with a mixture of premature retirements and painful redundancies in the face of a rationale based on ‘efficiency savings’ and loss of throughput and funding. In the event, the remaining senior staff had to manage the work done by their lost colleagues as well as their own, and, to add insult to the injury to the body of the team, survivors received pay rises, as did those who had hatched the plan that made top management as costly as before in financial terms. This increased the pressure and demoralisation on those who left, while those who stayed worked harder. Such consequences deprive the organisation of the wisdom of experience, while creating a gross deficit in individual and organisational morale as staff seek to combat the squeeze of the organisation on their personal space and capacity to hold its tasks in mind - a damaged and damaging container indeed in shaping a culture for excessive work.

But back to the book: I described it as accessible, and it is. Rasmussen is by training a psychology graduate, who has specialised in occupational psychology. This background is amply demonstrated in a capacity to write clearly in analysing the cognitive frameworks that create the experience of work addiction. More than that, she has carved out a place for herself in the public eye through articles in the press, appearances in the media, on panels of experts, and as a contributor to the public debate in Denmark.

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