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Department of Social Sciences

What moral standards apply in company labour relations?

For employees, work is always a sphere of interpersonal recognition, support and collegiality. Through cooperation, moral norms and principles operate and develop, regulating daily interaction.

Our research addresses the question of how fair and solidary relationships can emerge and be shaped in the workplace.

Many hands pull on a rope in the same direction. © Quelle: sfs


Respect is a form of recognition. Respecting another person means taking them seriously, showing consideration for their being and their humanity. It makes a difference to me that the other person is present. Respect is an active attempt to understand the other person, their actions, and the situation they are in. To respect someone is to think that this other person is justified in making demands on my own behaviour and that I should act accordingly.


  • Research Project: RespectWork - Developing Mutual Respect in Customer Interaction to Improve Work and Service Quality

In recent years, employees in service professions have reported increasing disrespect on the part of customers, resulting in demanding or even challenging behavior. But customers also often feel that they are not treated with respect when it comes to the careful and prudent handling of their requests.The aim of the project is to shape the framework conditions of service interactions as well as the concrete behavior of service providers and their customers in such a way that mutual respect is generated or promoted. The main aim is to create the conditions for respectful interaction.

to the project homepage


  • Publications

Klaus Kock: A little more respect please! „Gute Arbeit“, Heft1/2019, S. 17-20

Moral aspects still receive too little attention in the discussion about good work. Particularly in the field of interaction work, employees often complain about a lack of respect on the part of customers. Disrespect acts as a psychological burden.

Link to the magazine

Reprint in: Klaus Kock (Hg.): Arbeit erforschen und gestalten – ein Querschnitt durch die Arbeitsforschung in der Sozialforschungsstelle der TU Dortmund, sfs Beiträge aus der Forschung Band 201, Dortmund 2019, S. 60-63

Download as pdf


Andreas Flüchter / Klaus Kock / Bettina Lange / Philipp Renz: Gute Arbeit mit Kundschaft – Eine empirische Untersuchung über Anforderungen und Praktiken interaktiver Dienstleistungsarbeit, sfs Beiträge aus der Forschung Band 200, Dortmund 2018

The interaction between service personnel and customers is not limited to the handover of a service in exchange for money. Rather, an interaction arises between people with different expectations, with questions and answers, wishes and information, problems and proposed solutions, misunderstandings and corrections.

Working atmosphere and good work

When people talk about “working atmosphere” in everyday working life, they are referring to the quality of cooperation, to the sense of togetherness in the workplace. The term “working atmosphere” condenses the idea that work cannot be reduced to an act of economic exchange, of performance for wages. Employees always see their cooperation as an interpersonal exchange of understanding, recognition and support, which should be fair and based on solidarity. There is no patent remedy for a good working atmosphere. Every company and every staff member has to find out for themselves which “adjusting screws” need to be turned in order to improve cooperation. From our research work and discussions with company actors, we – Edelgard Kutzner and Klaus Kock – can give some hints on how to find out, what to look out for, and what activities to shape the working atmosphere could look like.

Our offer: We give presentations and lead discussions with practical examples and hints for design options at works and staff meetings (tailored to the respective company), at trade union events (e.g. evening events or educational offerings) for works and staff councils (e.g. in works council meetings).

Flyer with description of our offers (PDF in german)

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Good working atmosphere is a matter of give and take - a seminar concept

For the brochure "Gutes Betriebsklima ist ein Geben und Nehmen" (Good working atmosphere is a give and take), Edelgard Kutzner and Klaus Kock have prepared their social science research results for an educational concept that can be used by education officers and team members in continuing education. The aim is to support trade union activists, especially works councils and staff councils, in analyzing the working climate and shaping social relations in company practice.

Download as PDF (in german) from the pages of the Hans Böckler Foundation


"It's a give and take" - an empirical study on working atmosphere, reciprocity and good work

What is working atmosphere? How can it be improved? Klaus Kock and Edelgard Kutzner have investigated these questions in intensive company case studies over the past few years. The results have now been published in a book.

Klaus Kock/ Edelgard Kutzner
"It's a give and take".
An empirical study of company climate, reciprocity and good work
Research from the Hans Böckler Foundation Vol. 162, edition sigma, Berlin 2014.

ISBN: 978-3-8360-8762-9

Order from the publisher Nomos | Flyer about the book as PDF-Download (in german)


Workplace Climate Handbook

The contributions to this handbook argue for greater attention to be paid to the inherent dynamics of social relationships in workplace events. The authors from academia and consulting deal with various aspects of personnel management and labor relations, leadership and workplace democracy, interest representation and conflict resolution.

Uta-Maria Hangebrauck/ Klaus Kock/ Edelgard Kutzner/ Gabriele Muesmann (Eds.)
Workplace Climate Handbook
Rainer Hampp Verlag, Munich and Mering 2003

ISBN 3-87988-771-3

Full text as PDF at Leibniz-Information Center for Economics



Solidarity is not based on some kind of communal identity or original bond, it arises in practical cooperation. Solidarity is a kind of social bond between free persons. Conscious of being interdependent and interconnected in society, people enter into relationships in order to achieve goals whose realisation is only conceivable together. Solidarity is always also a result, not just a prerequisite of joint practice.


Work as collegial action

Based on interviews and group discussions with employees, it is shown that not only products and services are produced in the daily work process, but that interpersonal bonds and obligations are always created in the process. Practices are analyzed with which workers actively shape their social relationships and thereby create a collegial cohesion that enables them to jointly stand up for their interests.

Klaus Kock / Edelgard Kutzner: Work as collegial action – Practices of solidarity and competition in the workplace, Industrial Relations. Journal of Work, Organization and Management, 4-2018, pp. 446-468.

Link to the full text of the journal