Financialization and the employee suicide crisis at France Telecom

Nihel Chabrak, Russell Craig, Nabyla Daidj

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    Abstract

    The privatization of France Telecom (FT) in 1997 led to the implementation of a profit-oriented financialization strategy. An unforgiving work environment was developed, which has unsettled many employees. Between February 2008 and October 2011, 69 employees took their own life. Many left notes blaming management for having privileged the interests of shareholders over those of employees. Through interviews with employees and professional practitioners associated with FT, we reveal that employees strongly resented the company’s use of financialization policies to maximize shareholder value. Pursuit of such policies led to the de-institutionalization of socially prescribed norms that were applied commonly in Continental European workplaces. Feelings of anomie, disgrace, futility and isolation ensued among employees. This case highlights an important effect of a modern corporation’s adoption of financialization policies. It points to the need to improve workplace sensitivities and the ethical dispositions of companies and their managers.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)501-515
    JournalJournal of Business Ethics
    Volume139
    Issue number3
    Early online date17 Mar 2015
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

    Keywords

    • Employee
    • Financialization
    • Solidarity
    • Suicide
    • Workplace
    • Anomie
    • Social partnership

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