Romantic relationships in organisational settings: Attitudes on workplace romance in the UK and USA

D. Biggs, Lisa Matthewman, Claire Fultz

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – Research illustrates that workplace romance is on the rise and has potentially negative and beneficial consequences. The purpose of this paper is to understand, from an individual manager and employee perspective in the UK and USA, what personal experience individuals had on workplace romance and what this meant to them personally and in terms of company policy.

Design/methodology/approach – A thematic analysis approach was taken to understand what experiences individuals had on workplace romance and how this experience should be reflected in company policy. The research utilised qualitative interviews which were preferred over other methods, such as focus groups by the participants. These interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded to formulate themes in the research. Findings – The sample consists of 21 employees and 15 managers from Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania and England. Regardless of whether participants were from the USA or England, their opinions were similar. Managers and entry level employees feel that workplace romance was acceptable if it has minimal impact on the workplace. Managers and entry level employees are most concerned with the negative impacts of workplace romance on the atmosphere of the workplace, more so than the risk of sexual harassment lawsuits. Managers and entry level employees agree on the importance of companies having a policy on how workplace romance will be handled.

Practical implications – Both managers and employees stress that company policy should not place a complete ban on workplace romance; that workplace romances should be handled on a case by case basis.

Originality/value – The paper adds to existing research by comparing managers' and entry level employees' perceptions of consensual romantic relationships between people who work for the same organisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271-285
Number of pages15
JournalGender in Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Office romances
  • Employees behaviour
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Workplace sexuality
  • Employee and manager romance


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