Table of Contents

Research Companion to Emotion in Organizations

Research Companion to Emotion in Organizations

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Neal M. Ashkanasy and Cary L. Cooper

This Companion brings together many leading scholars to address a wide range of topics in 38 chapters, across five levels of organizational analysis – including within-person, between-person (individual differences), relationships, groups, and the organization as a whole. Chapters tackle structure and measurement of emotion, antecedents and consequences of positive and negative emotions, including effects on work satisfaction and performance. The expression, recognition, and regulation of emotion and the propagation of mood and emotion in groups are also dealt with. The Companion explores contemporary issues including leadership, organizational climate and culture, as well as organizational change.

Chapter 3: Fear and Loathing in the Workplace

Julie Fitness

Subjects: business and management, organisational behaviour


Julie Fitness [A]n Army functions best when you’re frightened of the man above you and contemptuous of your subordinates. (Mailer, 1948, p. 181) Introduction Negative emotions are ubiquitous in workplace relationships. Workers in every type of organizational context will sometimes fear their superiors, loathe their co-workers, and despise their subordinates. Moreover, workers’ experiences and expressions of these and other powerful emotions such as anger, disgust, and shame have the capacity to seriously damage workplace morale and productivity. However, there is still much we do not understand about the causes and consequences of such potentially difficult and destructive emotions in the workplace. The original brief for this chapter was negative emotions at work, but it should be noted from the outset that from a functionalist perspective, there are no truly ‘negative’ emotions. All emotions are potentially adaptive states of action readiness (Frijda, 2007) that may or may not feel ‘good’ and that may or may not have destructive consequences. Love, for example, is typically conceptualized as a positive emotion that feels wonderful and that motivates constructive behaviors. However, love can also be experienced as a torment that interferes with ongoing goals and plans and that has the potential to turn a workplace upside-down with intrigues, conflicts, and jealousies. Similarly, anger (a prototypically ‘negative’ emotion) may feel energizing and motivate constructive efforts to change an unjust situation (Lerner & Tiedens, 2006). Guilt, too, is an agonizing emotion that may, nonetheless, motivate constructive efforts to amend mistakes and repair...

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