Barsade_WhyAffectMattersAOM

Barsade_WhyAffectMattersAOM - 36 Academy of Management...

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A R T I C L E S Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations? by Sigal G. Barsade and Donald E. Gibson 1 Executive Overview Interest in and research about affect in organizations have expanded dramatically in recent years. This article reviews what we know about affect in organizations, focusing on how employees’ moods, emotions, and dispositional affect influence critical organizational outcomes such as job performance, decision making, creativity, turnover, prosocial behavior, teamwork, negotiation, and leadership. This review highlights pervasive and consistent effects, showing the importance of affect in shaping a wide variety of organizational behaviors, the knowledge of which is critical for researchers, managers, and employees. Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations? An organizational vignette . . . I had just mentioned how small a raise I was going to give to Jerry, my top salesperson this year. I could see a subtle wave of anger and frustration wash over his usually calm features. I had been afraid this was going to happen. But what could I do? I was caught in the middle—the CEO wanted to cut our budget by 6%! Jerry’s voice had an edge to it, and I could tell that my explanations about the budget were not going to solve this one. Would he ex- plode? Would he blame me? Worse, would he threaten to quit? I could feel the good mood I had started with this morning rapidly disappearing. The insistent brittleness in his voice made me feel defensive and I was starting to get angry myself. I needed to decide what to do next, but I was having trouble remembering the rationale for the raise. I felt like yelling at him. That, I told myself, cannot happen. I need to keep it under control. . .I’m the boss here, remember? He’s watching how I act. I need to figure out how I want to deal with his anger—and mine. . . A ffect permeates organizations. It is present in the interdependent relationships we hold with bosses, team members, and subordinates. It is present in deadlines, in group projects, in human resource processes like performance appraisals and selection interviews. Affective processes (more commonly known as emotions) create and sustain work motivation. They lurk behind political be- havior; they animate our decisions; they are es- sential to leadership. Strong affective feelings are present at any time we confront work issues that matter to us and our organizational performance. In the last 30 years, an “affective revolution” has taken place, in which academics and managers alike have begun to appreciate how an organiza- tional lens that integrates employee affect pro- vides a perspective missing from earlier views (Barsade, Brief, & Spataro, 2003). While much about affect remains difficult to explain, dramatic progress has been made in understanding individ- uals’ affective lives in organizations. In this article, we examine why affect is important to organiza- tional life. We do so by drawing on a range of studies that help identify critical organizational 1 Order of authorship is alphabetical; both authors contributed equally.
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