Sub-theme 13: [SWG] Close to Heart: The Emotional Underpinnings of Institutions and Organizations

Tammar B. Zilber
Hebrew University, Israel
Madeline Toubiana
University of Alberta, Canada
Maxim Voronov
York University, Canada

Call for Papers

A growing movement in organizational studies has sought to acknowledge the ways in which institutions and organizations are inhabited by people and how their social interactions provide the means by which these systems have “local force and significance” (Hallett & Ventresca, 2006, p. 213). Such a “richer understanding of how individuals locate themselves in social relations and interpret their social context” requires a focus on emotions, as actors are driven not only by cognitive commitments, but also by emotional ones (Creed et al., 2014; Friedland, 2013; Powell & Colyvas, 2008; Stavrakakis, 2008).
In this sub-theme, we invite colleagues who are interested in the micro-foundations of institutions and organizations, and who work from a variety of perspectives to join us in a conversation on the affective underpinnings of institutions and organizations. Various theoretical streams may be helpful for this project. For example, the institutional work approach has created scholarly progress on the ways in which the effortful actions of persons have the potential to create, maintain and disrupt institutional domains (Lawrence & Suddaby, 2006; Zilber, 2009), and the ways in which such work is affected by emotions (Gill & Burrow, 2018; Voronov & Vince, 2012).
Identity scholars have continued to showcase the ways in which organizational, social and professional identities are crafted and protected, highlighting the need for positive understandings of self in relation to participation in the social world (Howard-Grenville et al., 2013; Petriglieri et al., 2018a; Pratt et al., 2006). This work has also highlighted the importance of emotions to processes of identification with social groups and organizational values (Creed et al., 2010; Pratt, 2000; Thornborrow & Brown, 2009).
The institutional logics perspective has outlined a metatheoretical lens for appreciating the link between individual actors and institutional orders, delineating how exposure to complexity and pluralism can provide the engine by which actors can act agentically (Thornton et al., 2012), and that one’s emotional embeddedness in one’s logic can shape one’s emotional expression and agency (Fan & Zietsma, 2017). Logics may have emotional rules or registers that actors may become more or less competent in enacting (Jarvis, 2017; Toubiana & Zietsma, 2017; Voronov & Weber, 2016).
The values – or moral emotions – that people hold have similarly been proposed to motivate and shape actors by driving their involvement in work activities to protect, create, or change values and associated value practices (Gehman et al., 2013; Wright et al., 2017).
Finally, Lok and colleagues suggest that a psychoanalytic perspective (e.g., Petriglieri et al., 2018b; Petriglieri et al., 2018a) offers an approach that moves beyond a focus on the individual actor to analyze institutional micro-foundations “as intersubjective, as residing in transpersonal exchanges that are double embedded in systems of relationships and in institutionalized systems of meaning” (Lok et al., 2017, p. 46).
This sub-theme seeks to bring together work on the micro-foundations of institutions and organizations and explore the emotional underpinnings of these perspectives. We call for theoretical and empirical papers that explore:

  • How do emotions influence the dynamics of institutional complexity across diverse fields and organizations?

  • In what ways might interaction rituals (Collins, 2004) between organizations generate emotional energy in similar ways that interactions between people do?

  • What factors may drive or disrupt emotional investment in certain institutional arrangements?

  • How do actors come to love or hate the social worlds within which they are embedded?

  • How do emotions impact the embeddedness of these actors?

  • In what ways are processes of identification and dis/deidentification moderated or shaped by emotional investments?

  • How do values shape persons’ engagement in institutional work?

  • In what ways do emotions shape enactments and interpretations of institutional logics?

  • How might emotion work operate to influence shifts in institutional logics across fields or organizations?

  • How do emotions combine to influence collective behaviour or action, both conscious and unconscious?

  • How do unconscious dynamics connect emotion within and between persons, with broader emotional registers or prescriptions?

  • In what ways can studies of identity, values, logics or work be enhanced by consideration of the affective?



  • Collins, R. (2004): Interaction Ritual Chains. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Creed, W.E.D., Dejordy, R., & Lok, J. (2010): “Being the change: Resolving institutional contradiction through identity work.” Academy of Management Journal, 53 (6), 1336–1364.
  • Creed, W.E.D., Hudson, B.A., Okhuysen, G.A., & Smith-Crowe, K. (2014): “Swimming in a sea of shame: Incorporating emotion into explanations of institutional reproduction and change.” Academy of Management Review, 39 (3), 275–301.
  • Fan, G.H., & Zietsma, C. (2017): “Constructing a Shared Governance Logic: The Role of Emotions in Enabling Dually Embedded Agency.” Academy of Management Journal, 60, 2321–2351.
  • Friedland, R. (2013): “Review: The Institutional logics Perspective: A new approach to culture, Structure, and Process.” M@n@gement, 15 (5), 583–595.
  • Gehman, J., Trevino, L.K., & Garud, R. (2013): “Values work: A process study of the emergence and performance of organizational values practices.” Academy of Management Journal, 56 (1), 84–112.
  • Gill, M., & Burrow, R. (2018): “The function of fear in institutional maintenance: Feeling frightened as an essential ingredient in haute cuisine.” Organization Studies, 39 (4), 445–465.
  • Hallett, T., & Ventresca, M.J. (2006): “Inhabited Institutions: Social Interactions and Organizational Forms in Gouldner’s ‘Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy’.” Theory and Society, 35 (2), 213–236.
  • Howard-Grenville, J.,Metzger, M.L., & Meyer, A.D. (2013): “Rekindling the flame: Processes of identity resurrection.” Academy of Management Journal, 56 (1), 113–136.
  • Jarvis, L.C. (2017): “Feigned versus felt: Feigning behaviors and the dynamics of institutional logics.” Academy of Management Review, 42 (2), 306–333.
  • Lawrence, T.B., & Suddaby, R. (2006): Institutions and institutional work.” In: S.R. Clegg, C. Hardy, T.B. Lawrence & W.R. Nord (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organization Studies, 2nd ed. London: SAGE, 213–254.
  • Lok, J., Creed, W.D., DeJordy, R., & Voronov, M. (2017): “Living institutions: Bringing emotions into organizational institutionalism.” In: R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, R.E. Meyer & T.B. Lawrence (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism, 2nd ed. London: SAGE, 591–620.
  • Petriglieri, G., Petriglieri, J.L., & Wood, J.D. (2018a): “Fast Tracks and Inner Journeys: Crafting Portable Selves for Contemporary Careers.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 63 (3), 479–525.
  • Petriglieri, G., Ashford, S.J., & Wrzesniewski, A. (2018b): “Agony and Ecstasy in the Gig Economy: Cultivating Holding Environments for Precarious and Personalized Work Identities.” Administrative Science Quarterly, first published online on February 6, 2018,
  • Powell, W.W., & Colyvas, J.A. (2008): “Microfoundations of Institutional Theory.” In: R. Greenwood, C. Oliver, K. Sahlin & R. Suddaby (eds.): The SAGE Handbook of Organizational Institutionalism. London: SAGE, 276–298.
  • Pratt, M.G. (2000): “The good, the bad, and the ambivalent: Managing identification among amway distributors.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 45 (3), 456–493.
  • Pratt, M.G., Rockmann, K.W., & Kaufmann, J.B. (2006): “Constructing professional identity: The role of work and identity learning cycles in the customization of identity among medical residents.” Academy of Management Journal, 49 (2), 235–262.
  • Stavrakakis, Y. (2008): “Subjectivity and the organized other: Between symbolic authority and fantasmic enjoyment.” Organization Studies, 29 (7), 1037–1059.
  • Thornborrow, T., & Brown, A.D. (2009): “‘Being Regimented’: Aspiration, Discipline and Identity Work in the British Parachute Regiment.” Organization Studies, 30 (4), 355–376.
  • Thornton, P.H., Ocasio, W., & Lounsbury, M. (2012): The Institutional Logics Perspective. A New Approach to Culture, Structure and Process. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Toubiana, M., & Zietsma, C. (2017): “The message is on the wall? Emotions, social media and the dynamics of institutional complexity.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (3), 1–32.
  • Voronov, M., & Vince, R. (2012): “Integrating emotions into the analysis of institutional work.” The Academy of Management Review, 37 (1), 58–81.
  • Voronov, M., & Weber, K. (2016): “The Heart of Institutions: Emotional Competence and Institutional Actorhood.” Academy of Management Review, 41 (3), 456–478.
  • Wright, A L., Zammuto, R.F., & Liesch, P.W. (2017): “Maintaining the Values of a Profession: Institutional Work and Moral Emotions in the Emergency Department.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (1), 200–237.
  • Zilber, T.B. (2009): “Institutional maintenance as narrative acts.” In: T.B. Lawrence, R. Suddaby & B. Leca (eds.): Institutional Work: Actors and Agency in Institutional Studies of Organizations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 205–235.

Tammar B. Zilber is Associate Professor of Organization Theory at the Jerusalem School of Business, The Hebrew University, Israel. Her research focuses on the dynamics of meaning and action in institutional processes. She examines the translation of institutions over time, across social spheres and given field multiplicity; the role of discursive acts (like narrating) in constructing institutional realities, and the institutional work involved in creating and maintaining field level collective identity. Her work appears in ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Journal of Management Inquiry’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Organization Studies’, among others.
Madeline Toubiana is Assistant Professor of Strategic Management and organization at the University of Alberta School of Business, Canada. Her research focuses on the role emotions, complexity and stigmatization play in processes of social change. Madeline is specifically interested in connecting macro-level institutional concepts to the actors inhabiting those institutional spaces. Some of her previous and current work examines this topic in the context of social entrepreneurship, academia, social media, the Canadian prison system and the sex trade. Her research has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Journal of Management History’, and ‘Management Learning’, among others.
Maxim Voronov is Professor of Organization Studies at the Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada. His research is centrally concerned with dynamics of change and stability of social arrangements – at organizational, field and societal levels. His research is informed by institutional theory, and examines both human effort and its social embeddedness, as reflected in his work on emotion, power, entrepreneurship, and social judgements. His work appears in ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and ‘Human Relations’, among others.