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Emotions in the Workplace: Research, Theory, and Practice. (Book Reviews).

Neal M. Ashkanasy, Charmine E. J. Hartel, and Wilfred J. Zerbe, eds. Westport, CT: Quorum Books, 2000. 313 pp. $75.00.

Emotions in the Workplace is a compilation of papers presented at the First Conference on Emotion in Organization Life, held before the 1998 meeting of the Academy of Management. The conference was the first to unite researchers interested in emotions in organizations. The conference was successful; a second conference was held in 2000, and a third is planned for 2002. Emotions in the Workplace examines the role of emotions in organizations very broadly. For example, the book covers the role of emotions in creating issue "ownership," the role of shame at work, the effects of the physical appearance of the work environment on emotions, and the efforts of employees of a street-kid agency to deal with requirements to display certain emotions.

To my mind, the primary audience for Emotions in the Workplace consists of organizational scientists who currently do research on emotions in organizations and who are already familiar with basic emotions concepts. The book presents some cutting-edge theoretical ideas and findings that should be of interest to emotion researchers, for example, concerning the relation between emotional dissonance and employee well-being in chapters 14, by Kruml and Geddes, and 15, by Zerbe. Organizational scientists who desire to begin research on emotions or who want to add emotions to existing programs of research on other main topics represent a secondary audience. Although the newcomer to this field of research will learn some basic emotion processes, described by Ashkanasy, Hartel, and Zerbe in chapter 1 and Tiedens in chapter 6, for example, the coverage of this book is somewhat limited. For example, important topics such as the effects of emotions on performance and creativity and the typology of moods and emotions are only covered to a small extent. Of course, the role of emotion in organizations is a very broad domain of inquiry, and no single book can cover all of the important aspects of emotions at work. Thus, a newcomer to this field of inquiry might look for special issues of management journals that were recently devoted to emotions as well as other recently published books on emotion in organizations to complement the coverage of Emotions in the Workplace.

The main objective of the book is to stimulate researchers to study the role of emotions at work. I feel that this objective is well accomplished. A researcher interested in what causes emotions at work, for example, will find several articles that should guide important future research. The book is organized in five parts, each including between two and four chapters and ending with a short commentary by the book editors. The first part contains a general introduction by the editors and three chapters on the nature of emotions in organizations. The second part includes two chapters concerned with emotions as structuring processes. The third part covers the mediating role of emotions in organizational behavior and includes three chapters. The fourth part includes three chapters concerned with outcomes of emotions. The last part examines future research agendas and includes three chapters. Four of the chapters in the book, including all of the chapters in the last part, are theoretical and include no data. The other chapters include either qualitative or quantitative data. Some of these chapters describe studies that are published elsewhere but do not present new data.

I noticed three overarching themes as I read this book. First, as I already indicated, several chapters are concerned with what causes emotion at work. These chapters examine potential causes, such as work events (chap. 3), fairness issues (chap. 4), social status (chap. 6), feedback (chap. 10), and physical appearances (chap. 11), among others. The question of what causes emotion thus receives substantial treatment. Future research should attempt to integrate these studies (along with other studies not published in this book) to provide a comprehensive model of what causes emotion at work.

Second, some chapters examine the consequences of emotion. These chapters explore the effects of emotional labor on well-being (chaps. 14 and 15), the effects of anger on status (chap. 6), the role of emotions in feelings of issue ownership (chap. 9), and the effects of feelings of shame on violence (chap. 19). I would have liked this book to include more substantial coverage of the effects of emotion on dimensions of organizational behavior, such as performance, extra-role behavior, and creativity, given their prominence in the literature and their practical importance.

Third, several chapters concern the management of emotion displays at work, often referred to as emotional labor. These chapters cover the potential effect of emotional dissonance, often created by emotional labor, on well-being (chaps. 14 and 1 5), street-kid agency employees' responses to demands to display specific emotions (chap. 13), the role of job characteristics in establishing rules for emotion displays (chap. 18), and historical changes that explain variations in the degree of organizational control of employees' emotions over time (chap. 2). Emotional labor research is a very active area, and the book covers it generously. To my mind, the chapters in this book should successfully stimulate future research in this area.

Unfortunately, no single chapter integrates the various streams of research on emotion in organizations included in this book. Some readers might have a difficult time imagining how all of these chapters can be integrated in a comprehensive model of how emotions operate in organizations. Also, to my mind, there is more consensus about basic emotion processes than this book suggests. For example, Weiss and Cropanzano's (1996) affective events theory describes how emotions are caused and how emotions influence many organizational outcomes of interest. Moreover, several psychologists, including Frijda, Levenson, Lazarus, Ekman, and Gross, have offered some very detailed descriptions of emotion processes within the past fifteen years. These theorists actually agree on many basic aspects of emotions, and I would have liked this book to communicate areas of existing knowledge and consensus to a greater extent.

The authors note that "there is still a long way to go before we have more than scratched the surface of this new and expanding field of knowledge" (p. 272). Emotions in the Workplace sheds considerable light on important unresolved issues, such as the causes of emotions and the consequences of emotional labor for the well-being of employees. This book should help readers identify some basic questions in this field of research and develop new ideas for studying the role of emotions in organizations.


Weiss, H. M., and R. Cropanzano

1996 "Affective events theory: A theoretical discussion of the structure, causes and consequences of affective experiences at work." In B. M. Staw and L. L. Cummings (eds.), Research in Organizational Behavior, 18: 1-74. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
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Author:Cote, Stephane
Publication:Administrative Science Quarterly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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