Sub-theme 13: [SWG] Mixed Feelings and Disruptions: Multiple Emotions in Organizations and Institutions and their Implications within Social Systems

Jennifer Petriglieri
INSEAD, Fontainbleu, France
Russ Vince
School of Management, University of Bath, United Kingdom
Maxim Voronov
Schulich School of Business, York University, Canada

Call for Papers

Recent research on emotions in institutions and organizations has developed our knowledge of the functioning of social emotions (Creed et al., 2014) and moral emotions (Wright et al., 2017). As a result, we have come to better understand the role emotions play in institutional and organizational dynamics. We know that shame, for example, shapes actors’ adherence to institutional arrangements, and can trigger identity work (Creed et al., Creed et al., 2010). Feelings of anger and betrayal, in response to the violation of institutional norms, can threaten actors’ identification with organizations and institutions (Petriglieri, 2015), and inspire institutional work (Toubiana & Zietsma, 2017). Fear can lead to institutional maintenance (Gill & Burrow, 2018), and also prevent actors from engaging in desired institutional work (Wijaya & Heugens, 2018). Conversely, positive emotions can lead to emotional investment in institutions or organizations and one’s desire to defend them (Fan & Zietsma, 2017). Recent work has also demonstrated a recursive influence between social structure and emotions, whereby reflexive engagement with emotions “can alter understandings and facilitate new structural arrangements” (Ruebottom & Auster, 2018: 468).
Foundational work in the study of emotions in institutions and organizations focussed on the way in which positive and negative emotions have been separated, to emphasise, for example, positive affect on one side and negative affect or emotional toxicity on the other. More recently, a vibrant stream of research has emerged that studies the impact of ambivalence – the simultaneous experience of positive and negative emotions – in organizational settings (Pratt, 2000; Ashforth et al., 2014; Petriglieri et al., 2018). In this sub-theme we encourage work on emotion, organizations and institutions that broadens this existing work by engaging with the intersection of positive and negative emotion. In doing so we hope to generate a more nuanced view of emotional dynamics, both individual and collective, within organizations and institutions.
Papers might explore how and why negative consequences are embedded in seemingly positive emotions; or explore positive responses to hatred and negative emotions. For example, this would include the harm that our helpfulness can cause (Vince, 2002); the organizational consequences of a ‘hated self’ within organizational roles (Petriglieri & Stein, 2012); the violence that can be the consequence of our detachment from emotions (Vince & Mazen, 2014); or the compassionate responses to human pain in organizations (Dutton et al., 2006). We also encourage papers that adopt a systems psychodynamic perspective to study the effects of unconscious emotions, social defences, and ‘structuring fantasies’ (Vince, 2018) on institutions and organizations. Mixed feelings may not always operate at the conscious level, and thus adopting a systems psychodynamic perspective can allow us to identify the implicit relational processes that construct persons within their roles; and to understand the unconscious functioning of roles and relations within and for the organization. Such papers might connect with unconscious dynamics associated with the emotional impact of complex and conflicting organizational roles and relations. Papers might also explore the inevitable interplay between emotions and power relations.
Our sub-theme fits into the overall theme of the EGOS Colloquium 2020 by asking scholars to consider the varied emotional dynamics that are associated with and inform both ‘social, economic, and environmental disruptions’ and ‘how to resist harmful, unfair, or discriminatory practices’. The purpose of this sub-theme is to continue to build on our previous explorations of emotions in social contexts. We welcome both theoretical and empirical submissions that contribute to the further development of social and moral emotions.
In this sub-theme, we will seek to address such questions as:

  • What are the mixed emotions that characterise, undermine or support our organizational and/ or institutional work?

  • What are the benefits and problems of addressing positive and negative emotions simultaneously?

  • How and why certain emotional rules, registers, norms or cultures come to dominate within specific contexts? When might these emotional guidelines be disrupted or altered?

  • What are the impacts of intersecting and conflicting emotions on organizational behaviour and action, or in relation to the reproduction of institutional norms and patterns of domination?

  • How are negative consequences rooted in positive emotions, or conversely how do negative emotions link to motivation, agency and action?

  • How do actors navigate complex and conflicting emotional registers or rules associated with the organizations and institutions they inhabit?

  • What can systems psychodynamic perspectives offer organizations and institutions in support of understanding the intersection between emotions and the political systems in which these emotions are embedded?

  • How can we study unconscious dynamics in organizations and institutions? What are the methods we need to make such research possible?



  • Ashforth, B.E., Rogers, K.M., Pratt, M.G., & Pradies, C. (2014): “Ambivalence in organizations: A multilevel approach.” Organization Science, 25 (5), 1453–1478.
  • 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.
  • Dutton, J.E., Worline, M.C., Frost, P.J., & Lilius, J. (2006): “Explaining compassion organizing.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 51 (1), 59–96.
  • Petriglieri, J.L. (2015): “Co-creating relationship repair: Pathways to reconstructing destabilized organizational identification.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 60 (3), 518–557.
  • Petriglieri, G., Petriglieri, J.L., & Wood, J D. (2018): “Fast tracks and inner journeys: Crafting portable selves for contemporary careers.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 63 (3), 479–525.
  • Petriglieri, G., & Stein, M. (2012): “The unwanted self: Projective identification in leaders’ identity work.” Organization Studies, 33 (9), 1217–1235.
  • Pratt, M.G. (2000): “The good, the bad, and the ambivalent: Managing identification among Amway distributors.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 45 (3), 456–493.
  • Ruebottom, T., & Auster, E.R. (2018): “Reflexive dis/embedding: Personal narratives, empowerment and the emotional dynamics of interstitial events.” Organization Studies, 39 (4), 467–490.
  • 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), 922–953.
  • Vaccaro, A., & Palazzo, G. (2015): “Values against violence: Institutional change in societies dominated by organized crime.” Academy of Management Journal, 58 (4), 1075–1101.
  • Vince, R. (2002): “The Politics of Imagined Stability: A Psychodynamic Understanding of Change at Hyder plc.” Human Relations, 55 (10), 1189–1208.
  • Vince, R. (2018): “Institutional Illogics: The Unconscious and Institutional Analysis.” Organization Studies, 40 (7), 953–973.
  • Vince, R., & Mazen, A. (2014): “Violent Innocence: A Contradiction at the Heart of Leadership.” Organization Studies, 35 (2), 189–207.
  • 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.
  • Wijaya, H., & Heugens, P. (2018): “Give me a hallelujah! Amen! Institutional reproduction in the presence of moral perturbation and the dynamics of emotional investment.” Organization Studies, 39 (4), 491–514.
Jennifer Petriglieri is an Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at INSEAD, France. Her research investigates how individuals craft and sustain their personal and professional identities in contexts characterized by high uncertainty, such as mobile careers or organizations and professions in crisis. She is particularly interested in unconscious emotional processes, and often uses a systems psychodynamic lens to inform her work. Jennifer’s writing has appeared in ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Academy of Management Learning & Education’, and ‘Journal of Organizational Change Management’. It has also been featured in ‘Business Week’, and ‘Harvard Business Review’.
Russ Vince is Professor of Leadership and Change and Director of the Centre for Strategic Change and Leadership at the School of Management, University of Bath, United Kingdom, and he is Honorary Professor of Management at the University of St Andrews. His research has focused on learning and reflection in organizations, emotions, management education, leadership development, and the psychodynamic study of organizations. Russ has published in ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Human Relations’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘British Journal of Management’, ‘Management Learning’, and ‘Academy of Management Learning and Education’.
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. Maxim’s 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.