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Managing the Dark Side of Workplace Friendships

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June 03, 2018 22:47 EDT

Friendships in the workplace are valuable. But Wharton research shows they can also lead to complexities and challenges for those inside and outside the circle.

Friendships at work are typically seen as being beneficial. They are expected to bring people closer, create a feel-good environment and make it fun to come to work. But friendships can also create complexities and tensions for those inside and outside the circle.

Nancy Rothbard, Wharton management professor, and Julianna Pillemer, a Wharton doctoral candidate whose research focuses on organizational behavior, say this is because of a conflict between the defining features of friendship and the defining features of an organization. In their paper, “Friends Without Benefits: Understanding the Dark Sides of Workplace Friendship,” Rothbard and Pillemer explore the dynamics and challenges of these relationships.

In a conversation with Knowledge@Wharton, Rothbard and Pillemer discuss different nuances of friendship at the workplace and how individuals and managers can prevent situations from turning toxic.

*[This feature was originally published by Knowledge@Wharton, a partner institution of Fair Observer.]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy. 

Photo Credit: Solis Images /

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