Emotions in institutional work : a discursive perspective

Moisander, Johanna and Hirsto, Heidi and Fahy, Kathryn (2016) Emotions in institutional work : a discursive perspective. Organization Studies, 37 (7). pp. 963-990. ISSN 0170-8406

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This paper focuses on the dynamics and interplay of meaning, emotions, and power in institutional work. Based on an empirical study, we explore and elaborate on the rhetorical strategies of emotion work that institutional actors employ to mobilize emotions for discursive institutional work. In an empirical context where a powerful institutional actor is tasked with creating support and acceptance for a new political and economic institution, we identify three rhetorical strategies of emotion work: eclipsing, diverting and evoking emotions. These strategies are employed to arouse, regulate, and organize emotions that underpin legitimacy judgments and drive resistance among field constituents. We find that actors exercise influence and engage in overt forms of emotion work by evoking shame and pride to sanction and reward particular expedient ways of thinking and feeling about the new institutional arrangements. More importantly, however, the study shows that they also engage in strategies of discursive institutional work that seek to exert power—force and influence—in more subtle ways by eclipsing and diverting the collective fears, anxieties, and moral indignation that drive resistance and breed negative legitimacy evaluations. Overall, the study suggests that emotions play an important role in institutional work associated with creating institutions, not only via “pathos appeals” but also as tools of discursive, cultural-cognitive meaning work and in the exercise of power in the field.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Organization Studies
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? institutional workpoweremotionsdiscourseeconomic and monetary unionorganizational behavior and human resource managementstrategy and managementmanagement of technology and innovation ??
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Deposited On:
09 Sep 2015 06:33
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 15:24