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When describing an individual as a workaholic, the term is often applied perjoratively. Workaholics are considered to be consumed by their professional life, unable to relax at home and unable or unwilling to formulate a successful work-life balance.

But now a professor from Rouen Business School in France says that there is another side to this general view and that rather than being considered as something of a vice, workaholism can be beneficial. Workaholism can have positive outcomes for individuals, business and society, says Yehuda Baruch.

In his paper The positive wellbeing aspects of workaholism in cross cultural perspective, Prof Baruch, a professor of management, compares the addiction of working too hard with that of an addiction to chocolate.

Eating chocolate can energise individuals he says and also generates positive feelings. “Similarly workaholics are energised by their work and their accomplishments reinforce a sense of well being.”

Prof Baruch adds that workaholism can strengthen social interactions and in turn lead to increased remuneration and promotion.

“I believe that exploring the influence of workaholism should be studied from a balanced viewpoint, not one that takes it as being inherently negative,” he says.

And whilst workaholics might be subject to stress he adds, this may be a price that an individual is prepared to pay for a successful career.

The article is published in Career Development International.

● Given the option of a large team or a smaller one most managers would opt for the former, citing higher productivity overall. But new research has found that in some cases it could be well worth opting for the smaller team .

In her paper Why individuals in larger teams perform worse, Jennifer Mueller, an assistant professor in the management department at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania says that in larger teams individuals appear to be less productive individually than their peers on smaller teams.

She suggests that in larger teams individuals “may not have the time and energy needed to form relationships that really help their ability to be productive”.

Prof Mueller has examined how the size of a team can have an impact on individual performance. Using material from part of an ongoing research project led by Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, Prof Mueller had access to questionnaires from 238 people on a variety of corporate design teams who were developing products ranging from a new type of dental floss to designing an airline ticket purchase process.

She discovered that individuals in larger teams seemed to have far higher levels of stress because she says they did not know other members of the team very well and were unsure who to call on when they needed help.

“On a smaller team, people knew what resources were available and felt they could ask questions when things went wrong. The situation was more controllable.” Prof Mueller suggests that in larger teams where members of the team do not have a strong relationship this can cause stress that in turn leads to lower individual performance.

The paper is published in Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes.

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