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Loyalty ( ˌlo̯ajaliˈtɛːt , from French : loyauté , “decency, loyalty”, the roots of which go back to the Latin word lex = “law, regulation, commandment, contract, condition”, sa legal “according to the law”) denotes (in distinction to Loyalty , submission or obedience ) the inner bondage based on common moral maxims or guided by an interest of reason and their expression in behavior towards a person, group or community. Loyalty means, in the interest of a common higher goal, to share and represent the values ​​(and ideology) of the other or to represent them even if one does not fully share them, as long as this serves to preserve the commonly represented higher goal. Loyalty shows itself both in the behavior towards the person to whom one is loyally connected and towards third parties.

The level of loyalty required depends on the expectations that are constitutive for the respective relationship. These relationships can be informal (e.g. friendships) or formal (e.g. marriage). One can be born into them (for example kinship) or have chosen them (for example immigration). The expectations of loyalty extend to external actions, but also - as in the case of friendships - to internal attitudes. It is disputed whether loyalties are genuine obligations.

Loyalty conflict

Loyalty becomes problematic when it is demanded . Different demands lead to loyalty conflicts, for example when an employee is supposed to behave loyally to the employer even though he does not share certain values ​​or goals. Such conflicts are particularly common in companies with tendencies (church, state, armaments). This becomes more serious, for example, in the case of refusal to obey orders in the army, in the past already in the case of conscientious objection . In questions of environmental protection, operational safety, balance sheet, personnel, data protection and similar sensitive issues, “loyalty” is demanded again and again and just as often ends in fraud.

In families or clans , too, family members, the head of the family or the clan often demand "loyalty". This often leads to a conflict of conscience and the suppression of one's own values ​​and goals. The loyalty to itself is then called into question.

Even contradicting ties lead to conflicts of loyalty, here through internal obligations. For example, if a child, who is bound by his love to both his father and mother, gets involved in their argument about their values ​​and goals ( triangulation ) or if an employee works in different companies that are in competition with one another .

Loyalty and solidarity

If one compares the terms loyalty and solidarity with each other, then loyalty rather stands for an inner self-obligation, while solidarity represents an inner need. Loyalty rather describes the inner attitude, solidarity rather the outer expression. The transitions are fluid.

Loyalty in partnership

Loyalty in the partnership is the inner bond within the partnership based on mutual trust , commitment and a foundation of common values and principles of will and action as a relationship-constituting attitude, as well as its expression in behavior (communication, action) internally and externally (towards the partner, as well as towards others). In addition, loyalty also includes safeguarding and representing genuine interests of the partner, possibly even if you do not fully share them yourself, in particular if this serves to safeguard the basic psychological needs of the partner (in particular if reputation, dignity , trust, integrity , discretion are affected).

Loyalty is often seen as a requirement of fair partnership. However, it does not mean blind allegiance or submission to partnership interests or demands, but may require a conscious examination of any value conflicts while preserving one's own integrity and values ​​as an expression of loyalty to yourself, which is a prerequisite for loyalty to your partner (without Loyalty to "I" is also not possible to loyalty to "you" , otherwise the concept of loyalty to " loyalty to the Nibelungs " perverts . This also applies in a similar way to loyalty in friendship .

Loyalty in business

Here, “loyalty” is often confused with “dependency” and “authority thinking” (adherence to agreements made, compliance with legal regulations or loyalty to an authority). Rather, synonyms for loyalty per se are: decency , fairness , compliance with the law, righteousness, honesty , loyalty to the government, loyalty to the state, loyalty, reliability .

The concept of loyalty is often in terms of reliability and decency towards the group to which you feel connected, used, for example in connection with employment relationships , in which one employer or employer on the loyalty of his employee must be able to leave. Among other things, this means the requirement for honesty and fairness in dealing with superiors, colleagues, employees and external partners. In addition to emotionally based solidarity, loyalty also implies acting in the interests of the company and advocating for it to the outside world. Loyalty forbids the pursuit of such individual goals that contradict the goals of the company and requires compliance with company rules and regulations. A particularly high level of loyalty is expected among members of networks as a prerequisite for permanent group membership. The performance evaluation criterion loses some or all of its importance compared to the claim to loyalty.

Superiors and employees are involved in a common ethical context. The employee's duty of loyalty corresponds to a duty of care on the part of the superior. Being anchored in a superordinate value system means that excesses such as cadaver obedience and anticipatory obedience are excluded; in particular, this justifies the right and even the duty of the employee to be unfaithful , i.e. disobedient, if the execution of instructions would violate overarching values. It is unclear, however, which values ​​can be viewed by the employee as overriding and whether he can become a whistleblower . Infidelity in the sense of criminal self-interest is not permitted.

On the customer side, loyalty is also used in the sense of sustained brand loyalty or loyalty to business, company or store, i.e. the loyalty of a customer to a certain product or business. Customer loyalty implies voluntariness, an emotional connection and mostly also a more or less active advocacy. Customer loyalty can roughly be divided into involuntary, bought and real customer loyalty. Involuntary customer loyalty is based on barriers to change, contractual commitments or other constraints. With the help of loyalty research, brand or business loyalty is scientifically analyzed. With the help of loyalty marketing, the loyalty of a customer can be systematically developed. In brand management, one also speaks of brand loyalty. Fred Reichheld is considered a pioneer in loyalty marketing .

With regard to both employees and customers, loyalty is often measured using surveys . The decisive problem is usually which aspects should be included in the calculation of loyalty and how these should be weighted. One possible definition of loyalty, for example, is the EUCUSA method for employee and customer surveys .

Loyalty in literature

Loyalty in politics

Loyal attitude to the state

In the empire which was a hallmark of loyalty allegiance viewed. Lexicons in the Weimar Republic stuck to the concept of "allegiance" when defining "loyalty".

The GDR replaced in its statement of "loyalty" the allegiance with the words "to the government standing" and used the term "loyalty" - of which derived "loyal" - especially in their church policy. As early as the 1950s, the authorities of the GDR were expected to submit a "church declaration of loyalty" to clarify normal relations between the church and the GDR state. Otto Nuschke (1883–1957), who was both party chairman of the GDR CDU and deputy to the GDR Prime Minister Grotewohl (1894–1964) and thus responsible for the “main department for connection with the churches”, spoke of the need for such a declaration on the part of the church submit. The Thuringian regional bishop Mitzenheim (1891–1977) understood by loyal attitude at the same time the “duty to take responsibility for the whole” and protested against a “ fatalistic loyalty” to an “ anonymous authority”.

In the unified Germany, loyalty is understood to mean a “law-abiding attitude” and also declared as “honesty, decency”.

Individual evidence

  1. Matthias Iser: Loyalty. Handbook of Political Philosophy and Social Philosophy, ed. Stephan Gosepath, De Gruyter, Berlin 2008, Vol. 2 (N – Z), p. 731.
  2. ^ Dorsch - Lexicon of Psychology. Markus Antonius Wirtz (editor), 17th, revised. Ed., New edition. Verlag Hans Huber, Bern 2014, ISBN 3-456-85460-9 .
  3. ^ Duden - The large dictionary of the German language, 10 vols., Bibliographisches Institut, Berlin (2002) ISBN 3-411-70360-1 .
  4. ^ Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm: Grimm - German Dictionary. 33 vol., Dtv publishing company, Munich, ISBN 3-423-59045-9 .
  5. Brockhaus. The encyclopedia in 24 volumes. Brockhaus Wissenmedia publishing group; 20th edition, ISBN 3-7653-3100-7 .
  6. Hans Jellouschek: The key to loyalty: Why it is worth fighting for love. Herder Verlag, Munich, ISBN 3-451-61335-2 .
  7. Wolfgang Krüger: The secret of loyalty: couples between temptation and trust. Cross, Freiburg i. Br. 2010, ISBN 3-7831-3413-7 .
  8. ^ Anne M. Schüller: Future trend of employee loyalty . Business Village 2005
  9. ^ Anne M. Schüller: Future trend of customer loyalty . Business Village 2005
  10. Christian Koot: Customer loyalty, customer loyalty and customer loyalty potential: Model genesis and empirical testing in retail banking 2005. Access: July 30, 2019
  11. Heyse's Grosses Fremdwörterbuch , Hannover / Leipzig 1903, p. 506 column [2], keyword "Loyalty"
  12. Brockhaus. Handbook of Knowledge in four volumes , Vol. 3, Leipzig 1929, p. 112 Column [2], keyword "Loyalty"
  13. Meyers Universal-Lexikon , Vol. 3, Leipzig 1981, p. 22 column [1] keyword “loyal”; DNB 820100056
  14. ^ Theologisches Lexikon , Berlin 1981, keyword "Church and State", p. 322 column [2]; DNB 820067482
  15. Mitzenheim, Moritz: A word of appreciation , in: For the fatherland of the people . Published by the Presidium of the Main Board of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, pp. (20–233) 233; DNB 456684190
  16. Das neue Taschen-Lexikon , vol. 9., Gütersloh 1992, p. 190 column 1; ISBN 978-3-570-04209-0


  • Matthias Iser: Loyalty. In: Stephan Gosepath (Hrsg.): Handbook of political philosophy and social philosophy. Volume 2: N-Z. De Gruyter, Berlin 2008, ISBN 978-3-11-017408-3 , pp. 731-733.
  • Jacob Jacoby, Robert W. Chestnut: Brand loyalty: Measurement and management. Wiley, 1978, ISBN 0-471-02845-2 .
  • Simon Keller: The Limits of Loyalty. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2007, ISBN 978-0-521-87461-8 .
  • Dirk Ploss: The loyalty network. Galileo, 2001, ISBN 3-89842-135-X .
  • Frederick F. Reichheld: The Loyalty Effect. Campus 1997, ISBN 3-593-35665-1 .
  • Anne M. Schüller, Gerhard Fuchs: Total Loyalty Marketing. Gabler 2002, ISBN 3-409-12201-X .
  • Foscht Thomas, customer loyalty. Integrative conception and analysis of behavioral and profitability effects. Deutscher Universitäts-Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-8244-7443-3 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Loyalty  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations