Working With Pride In the Shadow of Shame: Emotional Dissonance and Identity Work During a Corporate Scandal

Sanne Frandsen*, Johanne Grant, Dan Kärreman

*Corresponding author for this work

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The relationship between emotions and identity work is well established, yet the dynamic between emotional dissonance and identity work remains under-researched in organizational studies. We explore this relationship in the context of organizational scandal, examining the required and experienced emotions of organizational members when ‘working in the shadow of shame’. Drawing on an in-depth ethnographic study of Danske Bank collected at the peak of its money-laundering scandal, the article makes two contributions to the emerging interest in the intertwined nature of emotions and identity in organizations. First, we challenge the literature on emotional dissonance by demonstrating that employees do not attempt to resolve or reduce their emotional dissonance, but instead sustain it. Second, we advance the literature on identity work by showing how emotional dissonance can be understood as a trigger and resource for strategic and preferred identity work to maintain a positive social identity and self-identity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Relations
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 6. February 2024.


  • Emotional dissonance
  • Emotional labor
  • Emotions
  • Identity work
  • Organizational scandal
  • Public shaming
  • Strategic management

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