Edited by Neal M. Ashkanasy and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 37: An Identity-based View of Emotional Ambivalence and its Management in Organizations
Lu Wang and Michael G. Pratt* I am very ambivalent about Wal-Mart. On the one hand, I recognize that they are not paying a livable wage. On the other hand, I have to recognize their business eﬃciency and their ability to drive down prices.1 Introduction Although many characterizations of employee attachment to organizations have tended to describe the individual–organization bond in terms of positive (e.g., aﬀective commitment, identiﬁcation, loyalty) or negative (e.g., low engagement, alienation) aﬀect-laden terms, recent research suggests that the bond between employees and their organizations is often characterized by emotional ambivalence (Meyerson & Scully, 1995; Pratt & Doucet, 2000; Pratt & Rosa, 2003). Some might even argue that competing forces are at the heart of the individual–organizational relationship: employees want to satisfy their own needs, but also often need to subjugate these same needs for the good of the organization (e.g., Stewart, 1996; Magretta, 2002). Thus, the central aim of aligning individual and organizational interests may involve attempts to manage ambivalence. Notwithstanding these basic pressures, ambivalent attachments are likely to only become more common in the coming years. Such increases are likely to stem from emerging organizational practices and intensifying needs from employees. First, as the composition of groups comprising an organization’s internal and external constituencies become increasingly diverse, organizations may attempt to be ‘more things to more people’. The company in the epigraph is a good example. Central to how Wal-Mart deﬁnes itself is its aim to be a ‘low-cost provider’ that...
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