Sub-theme 47: Do 'Good' (or 'Bad') Emotions Equate to 'Good' (or 'Bad') Organizations?

Dirk Lindebaum
Cardiff Business School, United Kingdom
Yiannis Gabriel
School of Management, University of Bath, United Kingdom
Deanna Geddes
Fox School of Business, Temple University, USA

Call for Papers

The notion of the ‘good’ organization raises fundamental questions to theorists of organizational emotion. Is the 'good organization' and its corollary, the 'bad organization', an ideal type, an archetype or a fantasy? How is it constructed and what emotional processes underlie and/or support it? What, if any, means are enlisted to fulfil its realization? What outcomes does it generate?
These questions can be addressed from a multiplicity of angles. The proposed sub-theme provides a platform for scholars of organizational emotion to explore how emotion in general and specific emotions in particular (pride, love, loyalty, fear, anger, hate, envy and so forth) sustain, upend, challenge or help resurrect the idea of the ‘good organization’. We are also interested in this connection with the role of different classes of emotion, such as moral emotions (e.g., guilt, shame or anger) or defensive emotions (e.g., pride, anxiety or disgust). What gives this sub-theme its uniqueness is a keen focus on emotion in general and specific emotions in particular.
We conceive of the ‘good organization’ holistically, but papers submitted to the sub-theme may approach the concept and the emotional scaffolding that sustains it differently. Both objectivist and subjectivist approaches are welcome. The former may place the good organization at the heart of legitimate, ethical, social, environmental, and economic concerns. A good organization is one that treats its employees, its customers, the environment and other stakeholders with consideration and respect. Economic success is balanced against environmental, social and other considerations. When these are properly integrated, the good organization may claim to represent and further the ‘greater good’. Seen in this light, the topicality of the theme is underscored by the ongoing Volkswagen scandal in both the US and Europe.
At the same time, we also welcome perspectives and conceptualisations (e.g., social constructionist, psychodynamic, etc.), according to which any number of attributes, emotional, symbolic, instrumental and other may be attached to the good organization and its obverse, the bad organization. Instead of looking at the good organization as a realistic project or a desideratum, such approaches treat it as a fantasy or as a symbolic construct that takes the place of something else, for example, an idealized family or group. It may then be legitimately asked by contributors whether the ‘good’ organization potentially stands as a dysfunctional fantasy that actually obstructs the emergence of a ‘good enough organization’, by analogy to Donald W. Winnicott’s (1964) idea of the ‘good enough mother’.
Accordingly, we invite contributions that, among other things, may focus upon the following:

  • How is the ‘good’ organization and its opposite, the ‘bad’ organization, constituted and what emotions sustain or challenge this designation?
  • What is the relation between emotions that are generally viewed as good or healthy and a variety of outcomes consistent with the ‘good’ organization? Is it possible for good and healthy emotions to support 'bad’ organizations (and vice versa)?
  • How do organizational members experience their organizations as being good or bad? How does emotion account for these experiences?
  • What role does a too sharp distinction between the ‘emotion’ (and the function it can serve) and the ‘talk about’ the emotion play in sustaining or challenging the ‘good’ organization (Lindebaum & Gabriel, 2016; Lindebaum & Geddes, 2016)?
  • How do leaders conceptualise the good organization and under what circumstances are they willing to deploy unethical means in the belief of reaching towards this ideal?
  • How does branding, internal and external, contribute to the creation of idealized and glamourized images of organization? How do these images influence the construction of the ‘good’ organization? Do they support or inhibit the realization of the ‘good’ organization?
  • What is the role of specific emotions (including pride, love, loyalty, anxiety, fear, anger, envy, hope, contempt and so forth) in supporting particular imageries of the good organization and contributing towards or inhibiting its realization?
  • What stories, narratives and counter-narratives cast organizations as good or bad and what are their emotional content and ramifications (Gabriel, 2000)?
  • What is the role of resistance or misbehaviour in response to concepts of the good organization and what are the emotional resources that fuel it (Ackroyd & Thompson, 1999)?



  • Ackroyd, S., & Thompson, P. (1999): Organizational Misbehaviour. London: SAGE Publications.
  • Gabriel, Y. (2000): Storytelling in Organizations: Facts, Fictions, and Fantasies. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Lindebaum, D., & Gabriel, Y. (2016): “Anger and Organization Studies: From Social Disorder to Moral Order.” Organization Studies, 37 (7), 903–918.
  • Lindebaum, D., & Geddes, D. (2016): “The place and role of (moral) anger in organizational behavior studies.” Journal of Organizational Behavior, 37 (5), 738–757.
  • Winnicott, D.W. (1964): The Child, the Family, and the Outside World. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Dirk Lindebaum is a Professor in Organisation & Management at Cardiff Business School, UK. One stream of his research activities pertains to organizational phenomena that involve emotional processes broadly defined. Another stream that he has pursued of late concerns the increasing visibility of neuroscientific theories and methods in the study of organizational behaviour. He has earlier experience in convening EGOS sub-themes (
Yiannis Gabriel is Professor of Organizational Theory and Deputy Dean of the School of Management, University of Bath, UK, and Visiting Professor at the University of Lund, Sweden. He is well known for his work on organizational storytelling and narratives, psychoanalytic studies, leadership, management learning, the culture and politics of contemporary consumption, and the study of genocide from an organizational perspective.
Deanna Geddes is Associate Professor and Chair of the Human Resource Management Department at Temple University's Fox School of Business and Management, USA. She has also served as Chair the Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management. Her research interests include workplace anger and aggression, organizational emotions, and issues associated with providing effective performance feedback.