Silences and Voices of Fear, Anger, and Rationality: Emotionologies in an Information Systems Project

Riitta Hekkala, Mari-Klara Stein

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review


    Purpose: This study examines emotionologies (Stearns & Stearns, 1985), that is, attitudes that members of an inter-organizational information systems (IOIS) project hold toward emotions and their appropriate expression and regulation in this project. In order to understand attitudes toward emotions and emotion regulation, we suggest the adoption of the concept of emotion structure, consisting of emotion rules and resources (Callahan, 2004).
    Methodology/approach: To investigate the kinds of emotionologies present in this IOIS development project, we have chosen a qualitative case study approach. Our data consists of 41 qualitative interviews, collected in two phases.
    Findings: We trace how emotion rules and corresponding emotion regulation strategies change among the sub-groups working in the project throughout their first year of collaborating. We show that organizational actors are skilled emotion managers, whose behavior is guided not only by many collective emotion rules (professional, organizational, social) but also by personal emotion rules. Our findings also suggest the need to critically reflect on certain emotion rules, such as those pertaining to the expression of fear and anger, and their potential positive and negative implications on project work.
    Research implications: We argue that group emotionologies with their professional, organizational, and social emotion rules interact with personal emotion rules, resulting in interesting emotion regulation strategies that often try to minimize emotional dissonance, sometimes at the expense of risking open conflict among project members. With this in mind, one theoretical and practical suggestion is to further explore the potential constructive implications of experiencing and expressing fear in projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationEmotions and Organizational Governance
    EditorsNeal M. Ashkanasy, Charmine E. J. Härtel, Wilfred J. Zerbe
    Number of pages28
    Place of PublicationBingley
    PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
    Publication date2016
    ISBN (Print)9781785609985
    ISBN (Electronic)9781785609978
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    SeriesResearch on Emotion in Organizations


    • Emotionology
    • Emotion rules
    • Emotion resources
    • Emotion regulation
    • Case study
    • Inter-organizational information systems project

    Cite this