IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Dreaming of cockaigne: individual fantasies of the perfect workplace

Listed author(s):
  • Cunha, Miguel Pina e
Registered author(s):

    The literature on organizations is replete with deal-type-theories. Most of them take the whole organization as their level of analysis and study the ideal organization from an objective and macro point of view (e.g. the bureaucracy). Less is known, however, about what the ideal organization might look life from the employees, micro, and subjective point of view. There are theories available about this ideal site, but most of them describe particular spots (e.g. motivation, satisfaction) from an objectivist point of view. Inspired by the medieval myth of the Land of Cockaigne, immortalised in Bruegel The Elders 1567 painting, this paper presents an empirical study of the perfect workplace, according to the subjective perspective of the individual employee. Seventy-seven subjects from a single organization were interviewed. The only question they were asked was Please, imagine the perfect workplace. It can be different from any organization you may have known until now. Can you please describe how it looks? Results suggest that most people define the ideal workplace in reference to their current organization. As such, the ideal is an improvement of the real. This suggests that, at work, people have difficulty in imagining Big Rock Candy Mountains. The implications of the apparent prevalence of the reality principle over the pleasure principle are discussed, and their impacts for both the theory and practice of managerial psychology are presented.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Paper provided by Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Economia in its series FEUNL Working Paper Series with number wp414.

    in new window

    Length: 31 pages
    Date of creation: 2002
    Handle: RePEc:unl:unlfep:wp414
    Contact details of provider: Postal:
    Campus de Campolide, 1099-032 Lisboa

    Phone: (351) 21 3801638
    Fax: (351) 21 3870933
    Web page:

    More information through EDIRC

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:unl:unlfep:wp414. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sean Story)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.