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There's a dark side to friendships at work

There's a dark side to friendships at work
By Lila MacLellan
Published: May 10, 2018

If you follow the popular online advice column “Ask a Manager,” you’re familiar with a few of the ways friendships at work can get hairy.

“I’ve been covering for a friend’s work mistakes,” one reader complained recently. Another described her pal as an awful coworker, angry all the time and running a private labor strike. “She’s my friend and I feel terrible about this, but it’s incredibly frustrating,” she confesses. And, yikes: “The friend who I recommended for a job in my office is secretly job-searching after just a few months.”

Julianna Pillemer, a doctoral candidate at the Wharton School of Management, noticed a few years ago that, pervasive as it seems to be, this genre of workplace crises was little-covered by scholarly research. Together with Wharton management professor Nancy Rothbard, she addresses that gap in a new paper, “Friends Without Benefits: Understanding the Dark Sides of Workplace Friendship,” just published in the Academy of Management Review.

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