Credit and Blame in the Workplace

Topic(s): Uncategorized
Publication: (Book Review)
Article: The Blame Game
Authors: B. Dattner
Reviewed by: Elizabeth Brashier

When we do an excellent job at work, we want to receive credit. When a coworker screws something up, we want to know that he or she will be chastised – and that we won’t. These basic human instincts – workplace survival instincts, some would argue – are at the core of Ben Dattner’s new book, The Blame Game. Dattner, an I-O psychologist, has witnessed his fair share of issues related to credit and blame in his consulting work, and he brings a wealth of personal experience and scientific knowledge to his book.


When we, in the roles of I-O psychologists, human resource professionals, academics, or consultants, are asked to work with a client, we find that personnel issues often stem from problems with the allocation of credit or blame. And it’s not just with clients that we encounter these issues! In our own careers and studies, it is hard to watch a colleague receive credit for those over-time hours we put in, and it’s incredibly frustrating to take the blame for a co-worker’s mistake. With the issues of credit and blame hitting close to home (or, rather, work) for so many of us, Dattner’s book is both informative and engrossing.

Beginning with a brief history of credit and blame, Dattner is quick to emphasize that learning about how to avoid (and work on) issues regarding credit and blame is important, both for us as individuals and for the overall success of organizations. As he moves through this section, Dattner is colorful and creative in his use of personal anecdotes to shape his narrative.

Dattner does not use the book as an opportunity to proselytize about “the right way” to solve issues surrounding credit and blame in organizations. He recognizes that each situation is different, and instead chooses to provide general suggestions for the reader. Dattner also pushes us to examine our own experiences with credit and blame – a self-evaluation that can be difficult.


To give Dattner appropriate credit, The Blame Game is an excellent, easy-to-read presentation of research and theory that provides a beneficial new perspective on dealing with issues of credit and blame.


Image credit: istockphoto/fizkes