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Q Academy of Management Review

2017, Vol. 42, No. 2, 175–189.




The University of Queensland

Lancaster University



Scholars have studied emotions and affect in organizational settings for over twenty
years, providing numerous insights into how organizations and the people who work in
them behave. With such a rich accumulation of knowledge, the time seemed right to call
for today’s scholars of management to propose new and exciting theory. The eight
articles in this special topic forum address topics that cross multiple levels of analysis
and include a range of different theories, explicating how anger and fear can spark
productivity, how employees respond to abusive supervision over time, how leader-
member exchanges are shaped by affective events, the social functions of emotional
complexity for leaders, team entrepreneurial passion, the effects of institutional beliefs
on emotional displays, the nexus of affective climate and organizational effectiveness,
and the role of gratitude in organizations. In this introduction we briefly summarize the
main points from each article and discuss new research directions arising from the
articles. To spur even deeper research into this important and still unfolding field of
discovery, and stimulated by the articles in this special topic forum, we conclude with
additional thoughts and ideas on the role of emotions and affect in organizations.

Organizations are intrinsically human entities. Causes and Consequences of Affective Experi-
As such, the processes that drive human thought ences at Work,” in which they proposed that be-
and behavior also drive organizations. Under- havior in organizations is intrinsically driven by
standing organizations therefore requires under- members’ emotional reactions to events in their
standing the processes that guide human behavior environment. Goleman (1995) published his best-
and decision making. These processes, in turn, selling Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter
emanate from the human brain, which is the More Than IQ, which served to popularize the no-
source of two related but nonetheless differen- tion that emotions play a central role in human
tiable phenomena: cognition and affect. behavior in general, and he followed up in 1998
These statements are axiomatic, yet, until re- with a book (Working with Emotional Intelligence)
cently, organizational scholars tended to favor ex- applying his ideas specifically to organizations.
planations of organizational behavior and decision The year 1997 saw the establishment of the Listserv
making that assume the human brain reacts in EMONET, which serves as an international forum
predictable and programmatic ways to environ- for scholars working in the field, and this was
mental contingencies and stimuli. Just twenty years followed shortly thereafter by the first Interna-
ago, for example, Ashforth and Humphrey (1995) tional Conference on Emotions and Worklife (see
commented that scholars until that time seemed http://www.emotionsnet.org). This period also saw
to have neglected the role of “everyday emotions” publication of a raft of journal special issues on the
in studies of organizations. The mid 1990s appears topic (e.g., see Ashkanasy, 2004; Fisher & Ashkanasy,
to have been the turning point, however. Weiss and 2000; Fox & Spector, 2002; Humphrey, 2002).
Cropanzano (1996) published “Affective Events In the early 2000s researchers continued to em-
Theory: A Theoretical Discussion of the Structure, phasize the centrality of affect and emotion in
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176 Academy of Management Review April

organizational research. In this regard, Ashkanasy manuscripts we received cross multiple levels
(2003a) proposed a multilevel framework of emo- of analysis, ranging from micro (within temporal
tion in organizations that encompassed emotions variability, between persons) to meso (interpersonal
as a within-person and between-persons vari- relationships and teams) and then to macro (or-
able—as well as recognized interpersonal-, group-, ganization wide). In the following discussion we
and organization-wide levels of analysis—and introduce each of the articles in this special topic
Elfenbein (2007: 318) later published a “process forum (STF), ordering them according to level of
framework” that focused on emotion as an essen- analysis, from micro to macro.
tially interpersonal phenomenon and connected
across different levels of analysis. In a more re-
cent and comprehensive state-of-the art review,
Ashkanasy and Humphrey concluded that “this In the first of the articles included in this STF,
is a growing and vibrant field of research, with Lebel (2017) develops what he refers to as “a con-
untapped potential” (2011a: 220). tingent model of how the emotional regulation of
Indeed, empirical research on emotions and anger and fear sparks proactivity.” Situated at
affect at work continues to flourish. For instance, micro to meso levels of analysis (within person,
a Google Scholar search revealed that some between persons, interpersonal), Lebel’s argu-
260,000 articles have used the terms emotional ments constitute a significant departure from the
labor (also spelled “emotional labour”) or emo- more traditional view of negative emotion as
tional intelligence, with more than 50,000 of these a source of nonoptimal outcomes in organiza-
published since 2012. Emotional labor has been tional settings, especially when it comes to pro-
studied extensively among service workers, and ductivity. This is in contrast to the literature that
recent research suggests that leaders and sub- has sprung up around ideas of “positive organi-
ordinates also use emotional labor in their zational studies” (Cameron, Dutton, Quinn, &
interactions with each other, while emotional Wrzesniewski, 2003) and “positive organiza-
intelligence has been studied across a diverse tional behavior” (Luthans, 2002). In particular,
range of organizational settings and variables. positive affect is usually linked to creativity, as
Clearly, just these two lines of inquiry have the encapsulated in Fredrickson’s (2001) “broaden
potential for incorporation into our core theories of and build” theory. More recent research (e.g., To,
management. Moreover, recent theories of emo- Fisher, & Ashkanasy, 2015; To, Fisher, Ashkanasy,
tions are being applied in new ways to a wide & Rowe, 2012), however, has revealed that nega-
variety of management topics, some of which had tive emotions can also play a positive role in
previously given little attention to affect. For promoting creativity and productivity. What has
example, emotions are now being studied with been missing to date, however, has been a cogent
regard to topics like strategy (Ashton-James & theoretical framework that will enable us to un-
Ashkanasy, 2008; Hodgkinson & Healey, 2011; derstand the processes underlying this seemingly
Huy, 2011), entrepreneurship (Cardon, Wincent, paradoxical situation.
Singh, & Drnovsek, 2009; Shepherd, Wiklund, & This is exactly what Lebel sets out to do in his
Haynie, 2009), and organizational change (Huy, article. Focusing specifically on the discrete
1999, 2002; Seo et al., 2012). As Cardon, Foo, negative emotions of anger and fear, Lebel seeks
Shepherd, and Wiklund stated in their introduc- to address the issue through the lens of proactive
tion to the special issue “The Heart of Entrepre- behavior theory (Parker, Bindl, & Strauss, 2010),
neurship,” in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, with a view to identifying the conditions under
“Entrepreneurial emotion is a hot topic” (2012: 1). which anger and fear prompt proactive behavior.
At the other end of the spectrum, breakthrough In a deceptively simple model, the author ex-
studies are documenting the neurological basis plains how anger (via self-efficacy) and fear (via
of affect and leadership (e.g., see Waldman, protective effort) can lead to productive behavior
Balthazard, & Peterson, 2011). under particular personal and environmental
In view of this “untapped potential,” identified circumstances, especially when the individual
by Ashkanasy and Humphrey (2011a), it seemed possesses emotional regulation knowledge. The
that this was an opportune time for us to call for model, which incorporates four propositions, is
organizational scholars to submit their ideas for compelling in its simplicity and is sure to con-
further theoretical development in this field. The tribute to our understanding of how and when
2017 Ashkanasy, Humphrey, and Huy 177

negative emotions can contribute to productive (at the micro level). Authors Cropanzano,
behavior, with implications for both research and Dasborough, and Weiss (2017) develop a model
practice. of the three stages of LMX relationship develop-
The second of the articles in this STF is also ment (role taking, role making, role routiniza-
situated at micro to meso levels of analysis. Au- tion) using affective events theory (AET; Weiss &
thors Oh and Farh (2017) present an emotional Cropanzano, 1996). Thus, in the role-taking
process theory of how subordinates appraise, stage, leaders signal their willingness to en-
experience, and respond to abusive supervision gage in a high-quality LMX with individual
over time. As the title of this article suggests, followers. Their display of emotions is a key
the authors tie in cognitive processes—namely, signaling device, and emotional contagion and
appraisals and attributions—to emotional pro- affective empathy also have a powerful effect on
cesses. Although often treated as separate, the quality of leader-member relationships. Al-
emotions and cognitions are intricately and in- though many models focus on how leaders’
separably linked (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Fur- emotional displays influence followers, the au-
thermore, Oh and Farh examine the role of thors of this article explicate how both followers
situational constraints on appraisals and emo- and leaders are influenced by affective events
tional processes and, ultimately, on the resulting and by each other’s emotional expressions. As
reactions to abuse. In terms of appraisals, the a result, leaders and followers may become
authors classify them as either primary or sec- “affectively entrained,” in that their emotions
ondary. Primary appraisals are influenced by the fluctuate together. Moreover, because emotions
novelty of the abuse and by goal congruency. are such a key part of any relationship, this
Novelty influences attributions about whether the common rhythm holds potential to improve the
behavior is abusive or not, depending on behav- quality of the leader-member relationships. The
ioral norms and the context. Goal congruence is authors realize that entrainment is not a simple
influenced by the person’s ego sensitivity and by process, and they model different patterns of
whether subordinates’ friends are also subject to entrainment and discuss the implications of
abuse. Secondary appraisal dimensions consist each pattern.
of blame, certainty, and coping potential. The au- Cropanzano and his colleagues (2017) are es-
thors assign a key role to emotional regulation pecially insightful insofar as they analyze the ef-
ability when explaining individual coping potential. fects of affective entrainment at the group level.
Because their article deals with abusive su- LMX theory posits that leaders have unique
pervision, Oh and Farh (2017) focus on three dis- relationships with individual members of their
crete negative emotions that can result: fear, team. Moreover, the theory holds that some of
anger, and sadness. According to their model, fear these relationships develop into high-quality re-
is associated with what that they call an “emoti- lationships marked by mutual liking and respect,
vational goal” to escape harm, anger with the perhaps even by close friendship. In contrast,
goal to remove harm, and sadness with the ac- other relationships are low quality and devoid of
ceptance of loss. These different emotions trigger real interpersonal affection, so managers use
distinct behavioral responses. One of the major formal rules and rewards to motivate their fol-
contributions of the article is that its authors lowers. As a result, the LMX relationships become
specify seven different types of behavior re- differentiated according to levels of liking and
sponses according to the types of emotions and shared leader-follower emotions. Stemming from
the behavioral pathway. For anger and sadness, these ideas, the authors develop a series of test-
these behavioral pathways are categorized into able propositions examining how this relative
three types: dominant, constrained, and regu- LMX affects specific emotions. Followers who
lated. For sadness, there is no action tendency perceive that others have higher-quality re-
other than withdrawal and disengagement. Thus, lationships with the leader may feel anger, dis-
this article greatly expands our understanding gust, and contempt toward the leader, especially
of how people respond to abusive supervision. if they feel that their relative status is unjust. In
Attention in the third of the articles in this STF contrast, followers who perceive that they are in
turns to the mesolevel issue of leadership and the leader’s good graces and enjoy a positive
focuses on the means by which leader-member relative standing vis-à-vis their teammates may
exchanges (LMXs) are shaped by affective events experience positive emotions like gratitude. The
178 Academy of Management Review April

authors conclude by discussing how these emo- Moving on from leadership, the fifth article in
tions either improve or degrade the quality of the this STF spans meso to macro levels of analysis
LMX relationships over time. and deals with the issue of emotions in entrepre-
Also on the topic of leadership within a multi- neurship. Indeed, perhaps no topic in management
level framework, Rothman and Melwani (2017), in evokes more emotions than the passion of entre-
the fourth article of this STF, focus on the social preneurship. As Cardon et al. (2009) pointed out,
functions of emotional complexity for leaders. entrepreneurs are by nature passionate about
These authors challenge the commonly held as- what they do. But entrepreneurs seldom operate
sumption that emotional complexity—defined as alone. They need to assemble a team of entrepre-
the simultaneous or sequential experience of at neurial peers who can push their ideas through to
least two different emotional states during the realization. In this STF, authors Cardon, Post, and
same emotional episode—represents a leader- Forster (2017) seek to address this issue by building
ship weakness (i.e., conveying leader indeci- on the earlier individual-level theory and extend-
siveness and fostering cognitive rigidity). They ing it to the team level of analysis. They do this
argue that emotional complexity represents a more through a concept they call “team entrepreneurial
developed reaction to complex change events (that passion.” According to Cardon and colleagues,
often exhibit contradicting demands by various this represents “the level of shared intense positive
stakeholder groups) than emotional simplicity, feelings for a collective and central team identity
such as just feeling “positive” or “negative.” for new venture teams” (2017: 283).
Emotional complexity could help enhance lead- As with all team-level constructs, team entre-
ership of change. preneurial passion presents a set of unique chal-
Drawing on functional theory of emotion, lenges, not the least of which is to model the team
Rothman and Melwani (2017) argue that emo- processes that underlie the development of this
tional complexity should facilitate the level of phenomenon. In particular, the question arises as
intrapersonal cognitive flexibility that allows to how a group of entrepreneurs can combine their
a balanced consideration of multiple divergent own entrepreneurial passions in a cohesive fash-
perspectives, thus enhancing creative adapta- ion such that the team (rather than a group of
tion during a change process. In interpersonal individuals) develops a sense of purpose. This is
interactions, leaders’ expressions of emotional a nontrivial question, involving issues of shared
complexity should also stimulate creative affect, affective diversity, and the development of
thinking in followers because it conveys leaders’ a shared collective identity. To deal with this,
role modeling and support for followers’ open- Cardon et al. (2017) develop a dynamic cyclical
ness and flexibility, thus fostering honest di- model of individual and entrepreneurial passion
alogue and learning from mistakes during accompanied by a set of nine specific proposi-
a change process. The authors also point to im- tions linking between and across the two levels of
portant contingency conditions such that leaders analysis. The resulting model provides a clear way
who are high in neuroticism and low in openness to forward for researchers seeking to explain this
experience will be less likely to become cogni- important yet complex process.
tively flexible. Moreover, followers who share the Also crossing meso to macro levels of analysis,
same vantage point with their leaders, and who Jarvis (2017), in the sixth STF article, deals with the
perceive their leaders as dealing with competing effect of feigning emotions on institutional logics.
demands, will be more likely to judge their leaders As such, Jarvis’s article represents one of the rare
as cognitively flexible. works linking micro emotional behavior to in-
Beyond bringing a fresh emotion-based per- stitutional theory, showing how institutional
spective to the change literature, the theory pro- beliefs have the potential to shape emotional dis-
posed by Rothman and Melwani (2017) should also play behaviors and how these behaviors, in turn,
bring an enriched perspective to the leadership could contribute to maintaining or changing the
literature, which has often focused on leaders’ institutions in which they are embedded. Chal-
relatively stable trait in terms of leader flexibility lenging the often taken-for-granted assumption
and adaptability. Rather, Rothman and Melwani that authentic emotional displays are normatively
propose that state emotions act as dynamic en- desirable, Jarvis theorizes as to how feigning
ablers of flexibility and show how these states behaviors—or emotional displays that differ in va-
could change from one situation to the next. lence or intensity from physiological experience—
2017 Ashkanasy, Humphrey, and Huy 179

represent strategic behaviors that could be and routines combine to contribute to the de-
adaptive in regard to satisfying institutionalized velopment of an affect climate that affects em-
norms. ployees’ expression and experience of emotion.
Jarvis (2017) thus unpacks the dichotomous no- This effect, in turn, flows on to affect em-
tion of authentic versus inauthentic emotional ployees’ mood state and, ultimately, their ac-
display and theorizes about the function of three complishment of functional goals. Parke and
types of emotional display or feigning: display Seo identify six particular affect climate types
that is aligned with actual physiological experi- and explain how these types “differentially”
ence, feigning emotional display that exhibits the impact “four strategic outcomes of organiza-
same valence but could differ in intensity, and tional units: relationship, productivity, crea-
feigning with displaying emotion that has the tivity, and reliability performance” (2017: 334).
opposite valence of physiological experience. He This is the first time, to our knowledge, that
then discusses various ways in which these types a comprehensive explanatory model of affect cli-
of emotional displays could help maintain social mate and its effects has been proposed. The model
order or motivate change, providing illustrative is rife with research possibilities, especially given
evidence drawn from such diverse contexts as the importance of affect climate as a driver of
customer service, work identity, and social employee behavior and, ultimately, organiza-
movement. In so doing, he integrates eclectic in- tional success outcomes.
sights from the literature on institutional logics, Finally, in the eighth article in the STF, Fehr,
emotion regulation, emotional labor, emotional Fulmer, Awtrey, and Miller (2017) address a novel
contagion, organizational change, organizational topic: the role of gratitude in organizations. The
culture, and leadership. He then uses these insights model is once again multilevel, crossing micro to
to formulate revelatory, nonintuitive predictions macro levels of analysis. Based on the work of
about how various types of emotional feigning Emmons and McCullough (2004), Fehr and his
behaviors—varying in valence, intensity, or associates define gratitude as “a feeling of ap-
duration—could contribute to the maintenance of preciation in response to an experience that is
various institutional logics and blending and, at beneficial to, but not attributable to, the self”
the same time, could support the contestation of (2017: 363). They note in particular that while grat-
the same logics. itude is generally seen as important to human
In sum, we expect this essay to open fresh relationships, the concept has rarely been studied
pathways for research linking emotion-related with regard to organizational behavior. Fehr et al.
behaviors to macrolevel society and institutions, rectify this situation at multiple levels. Thus, they
and to investigate various contextual conditions examine episodic gratitude (occurring at the
and underpinning mechanisms linking these event level), persistent gratitude (occurring at the
microemotional behaviors to institution-level fac- individual level), and collective gratitude (occur-
tors and outcomes. In addition, this work could ring at the organizational level). Most research
serve as one of the rare exemplars for scholars has focused on gratitude at the episodic or event
to produce more works that link micro emotion level, which occurs when people interpret help or
to macro factors in insightful ways. other beneficial behaviors from others in a way
In the seventh of the articles in this STF, Parke that promotes feelings of gratitude. The interpre-
and Seo (2017) develop a macrolevel theory tation of events plays an important role, because
around the role of affect climate in organizational not everyone is willing to recognize the beneficial
effectiveness. The concept of affect climate has help received from others.
been with us since its introduction by sociologist Fehr and his coauthors define persistent grati-
Joseph de Rivera (1992). Our understanding of the tude as “a stable tendency to feel grateful within
psychological nature of the construct, however, a particular context” (2017: 363). They conceptualize
continues to be elusive. Parke and Seo endeavor persistent gratitude not as a trait but as a schema,
to build on previous work in this field (Ashkanasy or mental representation. Individuals with abu-
& Härtel, 2014; Ostroff, Kinicki, & Muhammad, sive managers and workplaces develop negative
2013; Schneider, Ehrhart, & Macey, 2013) in order schemas about the workplace that do not support
to outline a comprehensive model of the ante- the development of gratitude. In contrast, em-
cedents and effects of affect climate in organiza- ployees in positive workplaces with helpful and
tions. In their model, company practices, leaders, friendly leaders and coworkers develop schemas
180 Academy of Management Review April

that support persistent feelings of gratitude. Their integrated through a common theme—that emo-
focus on schemas creates a logical tie-in to their tions derive from the basic biological processes
emphasis on context. that underlie all human behavior and cognition
The emphasis on context, in turn, allows the de- (Ashkanasy, 2003b).
velopment of a wide range of theoretically based
strategies for creating organizational cultures that
Context (Social, National, Industry)
support collective gratitude. Fehr et al. define col-
lective gratitude as “persistent gratitude that is Rothman and Melwani (2017) state an expecta-
shared by the members of an organization” (2017: tion that their model on leader emotional com-
364). They argue that this collective gratitude is an plexity could be extended to future research at the
emergent process that results from shared in- individual, dyadic, group, organizational, and
teractions. Because of gratitude’s importance, cultural levels. They make the very reasonable
they argue that the amount of collective grati- suggestion that power differences may influence
tude in an organization becomes a key aspect of the effects of leader emotional complexity,
its culture. They then go on to describe a range and they reason that high power differences
of HR practices that can facilitate the develop- may reduce leader emotional complexity. When
ment of collective gratitude, and they discuss endowed with high levels of power, leaders may
as well events that could disrupt the growth of focus more on themselves than on others and feel
collective empathy. Finally, the authors illus- less of a need for emotional complexity. Power
trate the considerable benefits that developing differences are one of the key cross-cultural dif-
collective gratitude offers both individuals and ferences according to the GLOBE study (House
organizations. et al., 2004). In this regard, organizations differ
considerably in the extent to which they concen-
trate power in leaders or empower subordinates
and teams. Likewise, tolerance for ambiguity or
Taken together, the eight articles in this STF uncertainty is also a major cultural dimension,
suggest twelve exciting directions for future re- and this has direct implications for Rothman and
search, which we list in Table 1 and discuss be- Melwani’s model. A wide variety of other emotion-
low. We acknowledge that these might appear to related variables may also be influenced by
represent a disparate collection of ideas, but, like organizational and national differences, so the
all the articles in this STF, they are nonetheless potential for research on these differences is

Seventeen Future Research Directions Individual Differences (Including Gender)
Individual differences are one of the most fre-
Ideas that derive directly from the articles in this STF
• The importance of context
quently studied topics in the social sciences, yet
• Individual differences and gender more can be done to understand how individual
• Complexity differences may shape the way people respond to
• Dynamic effects affective events. For example, Lebel (2017) spec-
• Mixed emotions and emotional composition ulates that there might be differences in how men
• Multiple levels of analysis
• New methods
and women respond to fearful events. The author
• Positive versus negative emotions asks whether one gender is more likely to seek
• Climate strength and type affiliation and support while the other seeks re-
• Linking microlevel affect and emotions to macrolevel taliation. In the same way, it is likely that a wide
phenomena variety of individual-difference variables de-
• Group-focused emotions and social identity
• Collective emotions
termine how people respond to various emotional
Additional ideas inspired by the articles in this STF events in organizations. Introverts’ responses
• Emotion-based organizational routines may be different from extroverts’ responses to
• Organizational structures most affective events. Likewise, emotional sta-
• Emotion management actions bility, openness to experience, agreeableness,
• Emotional labor
• Emotional intelligence
and conscientiousness may all determine to some
extent how people respond not only to fearful
2017 Ashkanasy, Humphrey, and Huy 181

events but to the other emotional events portrayed fear, anger, pride, and shame. But many emo-
in this special issue. tional experiences in life are complex and involve
multiple emotions that are in conflict with each
other to some degree. In this regard, Rothman and
Complexity (Including Reciprocal and Melwani (2017) explain how leader emotional
Recursive Effects) complexity can help leaders guide their followers
through change efforts. In fact, most organiza-
It is often easiest and most straightforward to
tional change involves a mix of positive and
model unidirectional effects; this is definitely
negative outcomes, and leaders need to display
true from a statistical perspective, but also from
a range of complex emotions to empathize with
a theoretical perspective. Yet, as Cropanzano
the mixed emotions experienced by their fol-
et al. (2017) note, AET holds that events and emo-
lowers. Rothman and Melwani’s article pro-
tions operate in a reciprocal manner. The authors
vides an excellent example to other researchers
acknowledge that their own article focuses on
about how to model emotional complexity in the
explicating the one-way paths, but they urge
others to explore the complexity of emotional in-
teractions. Likewise, most models of emotional
contagion assume that the same emotion com- Multiple Levels of Analysis
municated by the sender is also the emotion that
In addition to studies of individuals, there are
is experienced by the receiver. Yet emotional
a substantial number of studies looking at dy-
displays may elicit a complementary emotion
adic interactions, such as between coworkers,
rather than the same emotion. For example,
romantic partners, service agents and cus-
although fear is contagious, it is also possible
tomers, leaders and followers, abusers and vic-
that an observer who witnesses a scared per-
tims, and so forth (e.g., see Ashkanasy &
son may respond with compassion rather than Humphrey, 2011a,b). The insightful articles in
fear. Even displays of gratitude may evoke
this STF show, however, that individually expe-
complex responses that vary between people,
rienced emotions such as gratitude take place in
ranging from mutual gratitude to pride or even to
larger organizational contexts. The authors of
these articles take a multilevel approach that
links the development of experienced emotions
Dynamic Effects to different levels of the organization (e.g., Fehr
et al., 2017). Nonetheless, much more could and
For reasons of convenience, most researchers should be done in this regard, since research at
in the social science area tend to examine static multiple levels is sorely lacking and, thus,
effects. Interpersonal behavior is inevitably presents a tremendous opportunity (Ashkanasy
complex and interactive, however, so the be- & Humphrey, 2011a,b; Ashkanasy & Jordan, 2008).
havior of one person determines the response For example, Cardon et al. (2017) suggest that
of other interactional partners. In this regard, future research would do well to examine how
Oh and Farh (2017) model how victims’ appraisal team entrepreneurial passion influences indi-
processes determine their behavioral response vidual health and well-being, studying both
to abusive supervision. Yet these authors also positive and negative consequences.
note (in their discussion of future research) that
dynamic, interactive appraisals need to be ex-
plored. For example, how do abusive supervi- New Methods (Measurement, Experimental,
sors respond to subordinates’ anger, fear, or Physiological, Ethnographic)
sadness? In many ordinary social interactions, people
often feign or hide their emotions (as Jarvis, 2017,
demonstrates in his insightful article). This makes
Mixed Emotions and Emotional Composition
studying emotions in the workplace difficult, es-
In terms of studying discrete emotions, and pecially because people do not always honestly
again out of convenience, most researchers in report their emotions. Perhaps even worse, as
general prefer to examine simple basic and/or Jarvis points out, is that people may not even be
self-conscious emotions, such as joy, happiness, aware of their true emotions or that they are
182 Academy of Management Review April

feigning their emotional displays. This dilemma even have trouble portraying positive emotions,
is not unique to research on feigning, since a such as gratitude, at the right time and to the right
wide variety of emotions may be hidden, including degree. Fortunately, the articles in this STF specify
anger, shame, and even joy. Fortunately, Jarvis some of the contingencies that stipulate when
outlines several research methods that can help each of these emotions might be most useful. It is
us appreciate the true picture. In particular, most not enough simply to know whether an emotion
studies in the social sciences tend to use self- is positive or negative in affective tone. This is
report scales, and Jarvis has some useful ideas because, as Oh and Farh (2017) demonstrate, an-
about how to craft these scales. Experimental ger, fear, and sadness are distinct emotional re-
methods can also be useful to try to determine if sponses to abusive supervision and are therefore
subjects become accurately aware of how the likely to motivate different behavioral reactions.
experimental conditions might have affected Also, as we noted earlier, emotions are com-
their emotions. Physiological measurements plex, and the interactions among events and
(e.g., heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating, measures emotions and their consequences are even more
of facial movements, etc.) can also provide measures complex. A good example of this can be found in
of emotional responses independent of self-reports. Lebel’s (2017) article. Lebel models the complex
Moreover, and as we noted earlier in this introduc- ways ostensibly negative emotions like fear can
tion, emotions are complex, and many emotional spark positive proactive behavior. Although he
episodes of interest to scholars (e.g., responses to focuses on anger and fear, Lebel recommends
crisis situations, job loss, or incidents of bullying) that future researchers also examine the way
cannot ethically be created in the lab. The complex positive emotions can stimulate proactive be-
and intense emotions that arise in these situations havior. Overall, it would seem to be clear there is
might therefore only be amenable to study via eth- considerable room to examine the interplay be-
nography or autoethnography. tween positive and negative emotions and the
A further point is that many of the articles in this contingencies that determine when each emotion
STF take a multilevel approach to studying emo- is most adaptive.
tions, and this presents a range of issues and
opportunities for scholars. In this regard, and as
Climate Strength and Type
we already noted, emotions are typically studied
at the individual level—for example, gratitude is As Parke and Seo (2017) convincingly argue, affect
usually thought of as an individual emotion. Yet, climate is a crucial aspect of overall organizational
as Fehr et al. (2017) observe, we need to develop climate. These authors lay out a set of key proposi-
measures of collective gratitude in order to study tions but also observe that there are still many
this emotion at multiple levels. Likewise, we need unanswered questions that deserve investiga-
scales for a wide range of other emotions that can tion. Does climate strength change the re-
be applied to multiple levels of the organization, lationships modeled in their article? How about
as well as to occupational, industry, and societal subclimates? Most organizations are likely to
levels. Fehr and his team suggest that longitudi- have subclimates or miniclimates. Do their as-
nal methods are particularly useful when exam- sumptions hold true for subclimates? How does
ining the emergence of emotions at group and industry affect climate or national affect climate
organizational levels. influence the relationships in their model?
Clearly, there is room for considerable research
on moderators and mediators.
Positive versus Negative Emotions
In general, research has shown that positive
Linking Microlevel Affect and Emotions to
emotions are most useful at work most of the time
Macrolevel Phenomena
(Judge & Kammeyer-Muellar, 2008). Nonetheless,
we have evolved all of our emotions, even ones Half of the articles in this STF focus on de-
such as anger, fear, and shame, because they help scribing interactions between macrolevel and
us survive under the right circumstances. Know- microlevel emotion-related phenomena. The
ing the right emotion to portray in a particular authors of these articles do so by theoriz-
circumstance is not always easy, for scholars or ing how macro factors—for example, institution-,
for actors, in the heat of the moment. People may organization-, and group-level mechanisms—
2017 Ashkanasy, Humphrey, and Huy 183

might influence and be influenced by patterns of might influence the entire governance of the
individuals’ and teams’ emotion-related behav- organization—and even cause decline in orga-
iors. Cardon et al. (2017)’s article on team entre- nizational performance (e.g., see Huy, 2011; Huy,
preneurial passion, for example, introduces Corley, & Kraatz, 2014; Vuori & Huy, 2016). Al-
a rich variety of group-based mechanisms, in- though Huy and his colleagues have studied the
cluding similarity attraction, shared group iden- linkages between microemotions and macro-
tity, group diversity and variance, and bottom-up organizational effects in the context of strategic
emergence of collective processes. change, these micro-to-macro linkages might also
Moving to the organizational level, Parke and apply to other themes of interest to organization
Seo (2017) propose a model of the antecedents and and strategy scholars. Illustrative themes might
effects of an organization’s affect climate, which include social movements, changes in institutional
influence how employees experience and express logics, mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances,
their emotions, and this, in turn, impacts various or bottom-up organizational innovation.
units’ outcomes. Antecedents of affect climate in- One frequent cause of failed theorizing attempts
clude such mechanisms as company practices and relates to oversimplification of the organizational
leaders’ actions. This work represents an extension context. Organization scholars generally construe
of prior research suggesting how emotion-related an organization as a coalition of diverse groups
organizational routines (called “emotional capa- with diverse preferences and interests (Cyert &
bility”) could facilitate radical change (e.g., Huy, March 2013/1963), yet in many theorizing attempts
1999, 2002). It thus shows how these mechanisms researchers construe organizations as simple psy-
underlie the relationships between diverse types of chological reflections of an individual. This im-
collective emotions in the context of organizational plies that findings from research in psychology
continuity and evolutionary change. can be mechanically applied to an organization,
Likewise, Fehr et al.’s (2017) multilevel model of treating the organization, in effect, as a single
gratitude draws on such mechanisms as shared in- person, and reviewers typically do not accept such
teractions and emergent processes that characterize an oversimplification. This is a well-known issue
an organizational culture. These authors’ focus on in theorizing, called the “aggregation problem”
how HR practices facilitate the development of col- (Powell, Lovallo, & Fox, 2011).
lective gratitude to garner organizational benefits Instead, micro-macro scaling mechanisms should
shows how a healthy affective culture can be built. start from a more nuanced understanding of the
This work again shows how organization-level organization as a plurality of diverse groups (and
theorizing—through the mechanisms of emotion- individuals) and study how interactions among
based HR practices and routines—can shape the these groups (including affect-based interactions)
affective dimension of organizational culture. influence the quality of intergroup and group-
Moving to the institutional level, Jarvis (2017) organization interactions. Researchers might also
describes how institution-level beliefs shape study how the aggregation of diverse groups’ in-
feigned emotional displays. Jarvis shows how teractions influences organization-level outcomes,
interactions among various mechanisms— and vice versa. In this regard, beyond the mecha-
including individual-level emotion regulation nisms proposed by the articles in this STF, Huy
and (feigned) emotional display behaviors, group- (2012) and Vuori and Huy (2016) propose emotion-
level socialization, and institution-level logics based scaling mechanisms that could help foster
(i.e., the patterns of cultural symbols and practices, future research into the micro-macro links. Illus-
values, and beliefs by which people organize and trative mechanisms include group focus emo-
provide meaning to their daily activity)—can be tions that are linked to social identity, collective
employed to explain how people can maintain or emotions, emotion-based routines, and organiza-
change an institutional order. tional structures.
Nonetheless, there is still insufficient research
that theorizes how individual-level or group-
Group-Focused Emotions and Social Identity
level emotions influence and are influenced by
organization-level and institution-level out- In appraisal theories of emotion (Ellsworth &
comes. For example, only a handful of field Scherer, 2003; Smith & Ellsworth, 1985), scholars
studies have shown how unexpected group-level view emotions as arising when a person appraises
emotions from the lower level of the organization an event as harming or helping her or his important
184 Academy of Management Review April

personal goals or well-being. But people can also refers to the organizational ability to recognize,
experience strong emotions when events do not di- monitor, discriminate, and attend to emotions of
rectly affect themselves and those who are per- employees at both the individual and the collective
sonally close to them. They can experience what levels (Huy, 1999, 2005). This ability is built into the
scholars call group-focused or group-level emotions organization’s routines, which reflect the collective
when, for example, they are joyful when their sports knowledge and skills to manage the emotions of
team wins (Smith, Seger, & Mackie, 2007). In this its members—when needed to realize organiza-
regard, scholars have shown that group-focused tional outcomes.
emotions predict collective behavior more strongly In the context of strategic change, Huy (1999,
than do other individual emotions. Group-focused 2005) described various emotion management
emotions could also be linked to social identity (Huy, routines (also called emotional dynamics) that
2011). In this case, organization members who iden- constitute an organization’s emotional capa-
tify strongly with their group (or firm) can be expected bility, such as emotional experiencing, recon-
to experience emotions that are similar to those of ciliation, and encouragement, and that express
others in the organization when faced with events or elicit specific positive emotions during stra-
that impact their collective’s identity or welfare. tegic change, such as empathy, sympathy,
and hope, to foster various change processes.
Although alluded to in the STF articles, the
Collective Emotions
extent to which these emotional dynamics are
Two of the articles in this STF (Cardon et al., relevant to interfirm emotion management and
2017; Fehr et al., 2017) address collective emotions, their associated boundary conditions in other
which represent the composition of various shared interfirm contexts has not received enough
emotions of a group’s members (Barsade & Gibson, empirical investigation and more nuanced
1998) and have been shown to influence a variety of theorizing.
group outcomes (van Zomeren, Spears, & Fischer,
2004). Collective emotions do not just reflect an
Organizational Structures
emotionally homogeneous group but can also
consist of sizable proportions of different shared Also alluded to, but not directly addressed in
emotions—for example, 70 percent of members the articles, are differences in emotional experi-
experience negative emotions while the other ences among organizational groups that might
30 percent experience positive emotions. Since arise because of the influence of their varied po-
a strategic change is unlikely to affect all work sitions in the organizational structure. If groups
units in the same organization in the same way, the specialize in different tasks and focus on different
composition of collective emotions might be het- matters, they likely perceive things differently
erogeneous in large organizations inhabited by and regard some matters as more important than
groups with distinctive roles, values, and interests others. Differing emotions among groups could
(Sanchez-Burks & Huy, 2009). arise because of the structural distribution of
attention (Ocasio, 1997). To illustrate, strategic
change that evokes threats to some managers’
status and power within the structure of the or-
ganization can trigger strong emotions (Vuori &
In addition to the foregoing directions for future Huy, 2016). The organizational hierarchy grants
research, which emerge directly from the articles unequal formal status to various organization
published in this STF, we list in Table 1 five members and groups through titles and re-
additional topics that, although not explicitly sponsibilities. This status determines, in part, an
addressed in the articles, are inspired by them. individual’s “power” (i.e., the extent of the individ-
We discuss these topics next. ual’s control over resources that other members
value; see Pfeffer, 1981). Organization members
who value status and power likely compete with
Emotion-Based Organizational Routines
one another to obtain or maintain their status and
Individual emotions can become collective and may feel strong emotions if they perceive related
organizational through the enactment of what is threats. Low-status employees likely fear higher-
called organizational emotional capability, which status individuals (Menges & Kilduff, 2015).
2017 Ashkanasy, Humphrey, and Huy 185

Emotion Management Actions emotion management actions that are relevant

for diverse organizational and institutional con-
Several of the STF articles touch upon issues of
texts, and how this organization-level emotional
emotion management (e.g., Jarvis, 2017; Lebel, 2017;
capability could be developed. Affective differ-
Oh & Farh, 2017), but only tangentially. Nonetheless,
ences in contexts could matter for organizational
a good deal of literature has focused on this topic,
performance (e.g., Huy, 2002; Vuori & Huy, 2016). For
especially in the form of individual leader in-
example, organizations that tend not to value
terpersonal emotion management (e.g., Humphrey,
emotional sensitivity, such as some financial trad-
Pollack, & Hawver, 2008; Kaplan, Cortina, Ruark,
ing companies, may have less emotional resilience
LaPort, & Nicolaides, 2014). Much less attention has
and adaptive capacity during disruptive change
been devoted to examining how emotion manage-
than organizations that value it more, such as hu-
ment actions influence organization-level outcomes man care organizations (Barsade & O’Neill, 2014).
(e.g., organizational continuity and change, which
we elaborate on below) or are embedded in
organization-level constructs (such as organiza- Emotional Labor
tional routines). Within this topic, we identify two As we noted earlier, while emotional labor has
particular lines of potential future research: (1) been a major topic of research ever since publi-
organization-level paradoxes involving affect, cation of Hochschild’s (1983) seminal book, the last
such as emotional balancing continuity and few years have seen an impressive amount of
change, and (2) emotion-related organizational work on the topic (as documented by Grandey,
routines. Diefendorff, & Rupp, 2013). Emotional labor takes
Organization-level paradoxes involving affect. place whenever people modify their emotional
Huy’s (2002, 2005) research illustrates the useful- displays in order to meet organizational display
ness of investigating organization-level para- rules that specify the emotions they should be
doxes involving affect (Smith & Lewis, 2011). Huy expressing. For example, restaurants and retail
(2002), for instance, has drawn attention to the establishments often urge their employees to
importance of managing emotions related to both provide “service with a smile.” Although (as we
organizational continuity and change, rather than noted earlier) the articles in this STF brush on is-
focusing on change alone. Emotional balancing sues related to emotion management, none of
is necessary because too much and too rapid them address this topic directly. Nonetheless, and
change risks generating chaos, while too little despite the considerable amount of work that
and too slow change risks creating inertia. Emo- has been done on this topic, there are still major
tional balancing at the organizational level in- avenues of research that need exploring.
volves some organizational groups displaying In particular, the “bright side” of emotional la-
high emotional commitment to pursue change bor offers fruitful prospects. The predominant
projects, with other groups attending to the emo- views of emotional labor stem from Hochschild’s
tions of change recipients in order to maintain (1983) perspective that performing emotional la-
operational continuity (as a type of organizational bor can be stressful and can lead to feelings of
paradox). Researchers in the future would do inauthenticity. This leads to an investigation of
well to investigate emotion-related processes and emotional labor in companies and in occupations
mechanisms involved in organizations pursuing known to have high levels of employee dissatis-
various tensions, such as efficiency versus in- faction, as well as a focus on negative outcomes,
novation, short- versus long-term benefits, and such as stress and burnout. As a result, the posi-
economic versus social welfare. tive aspects of emotional labor have largely been
Emotion-related organizational routines. Be- overlooked and underinvestigated.
yond interpersonal leader emotion management Humphrey, Ashforth, and Diefendorff (2015) ar-
actions, emotion management can also be per- gue, in this regard, that the concentrated focus on
formed thanks to embedded organizational ac- the undesirable aspects of emotional labor has
tion routines that attend to recipient employees’ caused researchers to overlook the many positive
emotions caused by major change (e.g., Huy, 1999). aspects of it. In their review of existing research,
In future research on micro-macro linkages, these researchers concluded that the deleteri-
scholars would thus do well to explore the vari- ous effects of emotional labor occurred primarily
ous types of organization-level paradoxes and when people used the wrong form of emotional
186 Academy of Management Review April

labor—surface acting—instead of the more bene- all measures of emotional intelligence deal with the
ficial forms—deep acting and natural, spontane- individual’s ability to regulate and perceive emo-
ous, and genuine emotions (Ashforth & Humphrey, tions, both with regard to self and others, and, as
1993). Humphrey et al. (2015) further maintain that such, are implied in most theories of emotion.
the use of surface acting is often caused by poor Despite ongoing controversy (Antonakis,
person-job fit and that emotional labor is benefi- Ashkanasy, & Dasborough 2009), emotional
cial for those with good job fit, especially extroverts intelligence measures have shown a wide range of
and people with high emotional stability, high utility across the spectrum of work-related out-
emotional intelligence, and high positive trait af- comes. In this regard, results of meta-analyses
fect. Thus, similar to the approach adopted by show that that emotional intelligence is posi-
Lebel (2017), we argue that instead of searching for tively related to physical, mental, and psycho-
negative effects in companies known for mis- somatic health (Martins, Ramalho, & Morin, 2010;
treating their employees, future research should Schutte, Malouff, Thorsteinsson, Bhullar, &
examine exemplary workers in companies known Rooke, 2007). More relevant to work settings,
for providing outstanding customer service and for Walter, Cole, and Humphrey (2011) reviewed the
having high employee job satisfaction. literature and concluded that there is evidence
There has also been some very exciting re- that emotional intelligence is positively related
search extending emotional labor beyond the to leadership emergence and effectiveness.
service context. Researchers have been applying These results are reinforced by the results of re-
emotional labor concepts to leadership and to cent meta-analytic findings (Miao, Humphrey, &
interactions among coworkers (Ashkanasy & Qian, 2016, in press; O’Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack,
Humphrey, 2011b; Fisk & Friesen, 2012; Gardner, Hawver, & Story, 2011) showing that emotional
Fischer, & Hunt, 2009; Humphrey et al., 2008; Iszatt- intelligence predicts job performance, organi-
White, 2009, 2013). Emotional labor may be partic- zational commitment, turnover intentions, and
ularly relevant to leadership because “leaders use job satisfaction (controlling for Big Five person-
emotional labor to regulate their own emotions ality and cognitive ability).
and to manage the moods, job attitudes, and per- Given these important findings, future re-
formance of their followers” (Humphrey, 2012: 740). search clearly needs to continue, particularly to
Leaders and subordinates may use surface acting, understand how emotional intelligence relates
deep acting, or genuine emotions when interacting to multiple levels of analysis, on boundary con-
with each other, and the choice of emotional labor ditions, on training and development, and on
strategy may have a profound effect on the quality many other issues. Given the considerable in-
of their relationships. The potential for research in cremental validity that emotional intelligence
this area is enormous. measures have shown across a wide domain of
work-related behaviors, it should now be ex-
pected that researchers routinely include mea-
Emotional Intelligence
sures of emotional intelligence in their studies.
Finally, we note that emotional intelligence, Thus, we argue that although emotional in-
which is an individual-difference variable and telligence was not addressed in the articles in-
continues to be one of the most researched topics cluded in this STF, it remains an important topic
in the area of emotions and management, is not that can benefit from deeper and more rigorous
addressed directly in any of the STF articles. research.
Nonetheless, emotion-related individual differences
still underpin much of the work on emotion in or-
ganizational settings, especially at the more micro
levels of analysis (e.g., see Cropanzano et al., 2017; The study of emotions and affect in organiza-
Lebel, 2017; Oh & Farh, 2017). In this regard, tional settings has come a long way in the last two
Ashkanasy and Daus (2005) brought clarity to this decades, beginning with the seminal call for ac-
booming field by categorizing the different streams tion by Ashforth and Humphrey (1995). Nonethe-
of emotional intelligence research into ability less, while we scholars of emotion and affect in
measures, self-reports based on the Mayer-Salovey organizations no longer need to introduce our ar-
(1997) model, and mixed competency models of ticles by bemoaning the lack of research in this
emotional intelligence. Irrespective of which stream, regard (e.g., see Fisher & Ashkanasy, 2000), the
2017 Ashkanasy, Humphrey, and Huy 187

research outlined in this STF tells us that there Barsade, S. G., & Gibson, D. E. 1998. Group emotion: A view
remains tremendous scope to further our un- from top and bottom. Research on Managing Groups and
derstanding in this field. Especially exciting are Teams, 1: 81–102.
the emerging fields identified in this issue (see Barsade, S. G., & O’Neill, O. A. 2014. What’s love got to do with
Table 1). Multilevel issues and new methods are it? A longitudinal study of the culture of compassionate
love and employee and client outcomes in the long-
also opening up new avenues for research and
term care setting. Administrative Science Quarterly,
theory. Moreover, and as we noted earlier, there
59: 551–598.
still remains much additional room for develop-
Cameron, K. S., Dutton, J. E., Quinn, R. E., & Wrzesniewski, A.
ment in such established fields as emotional la-
2003. Developing a discipline of positive organizational
bor and emotional intelligence. Our hope is that
scholarship. In K. Cameron & J. Dutton (Eds.), Positive
this STF will stimulate further development in this organizational scholarship: Foundations of a new disci-
field, and we eagerly look forward to seeing what pline: 361–370. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.
comes next.
Cardon, M. S., Foo, M., Shepherd, D., & Wiklund, J. 2012. Ex-
ploring the heart: Entrepreneurial emotion is a hot topic.
Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 36: 1–10.
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Neal M. Ashkanasy (n.ashkanasy@uq.edu.au) is professor of management in the UQ

Business School, The University of Queensland. He received his Ph.D. from the University
of Michigan. He studies emotion in organizations, leadership, culture, and ethical
Ronald H. Humphrey (r.humphrey@lancaster.ac.uk) is a distinguished professor of
leadership at Lancaster University and director of the Centre for Leadership Studies and
Practice. He received his Ph.D. from The University of Queensland. He is currently
studying how empathic, emotionally intelligent leadership contributes to leadership
emergence, leadership performance, follower performance, job satisfaction (for both the
leader and follower), and organizational citizenship behavior. He also studies emotional
labor, identity theory, and other topics.

Quy Nguyen Huy (quy.huy@insead.edu) is professor of strategic management at INSEAD. He

received his Ph.D. from McGill University. His research focuses on the social emotional di-
mensions of strategic processes, including strategic change, innovation, and entrepreneurship.