Understanding the Differential Effects of Anxiety and Anger

depression-2912404_1280[We’re pleased to welcome authors, Laurie J. Barclay of Wilfrid Laurier University, and Tina Kiefer of the University of Warwick. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “In the Aftermath of Unfair Events: Understanding the Differential Effects of Anxiety and Anger,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, the motivation for their research:]

JOM_42_5_Covers.inddWhat motivated you to pursue this research?
We were interested in how employees experience unfair events on a day-to-day basis and how they “live through” and actively navigate these experiences. We wanted to move away from the dominant perspective in the literature that examines how unfairness impacts employees through the “eyes” and interests of managers and organizations. Instead, we wanted to ground our investigation in employees’ experiences to understand how employees process and respond to these events and how this impacts their relationship with the organization.

Within the fairness literature, it is often assumed that negative emotions are detrimental. However, negative emotions can be functional for employees and hence organizations. One of our study’s most compelling findings is that employees who experience anxiety in reaction to the unfair event are motivated to engage in problem prevention behaviors, which are aimed at “fixing” the situation. Interestingly, employees who engage in these behaviors experienced a “rebound” in their fairness perceptions, such that the drop in perceived fairness due to the unfair event was corrected. By contrast, anger was functional by showing that the unfairness would not be tolerated but did not have the same positive impact on subsequent fairness perceptions. This raises important questions about how employees’ behaviors impact the aftermath of the unfair event and the importance of understanding how employees are experiencing these events to effectively manage these situations.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
After decades of research, the fairness literature has become a mature and well-established domain of inquiry, with thousands of studies and dozens of theories. Although this wealth of empirical evidence and theoretical diversity has provided much richness, incoming researchers and doctoral students can find it a bit intimidating to dive into. Further, some scholars have also questioned whether the maturity of this literature will lead to stagnation. However, there are many opportunities to make significant, novel, and important discoveries in this domain by taking different and novel perspectives.

One way to continue to stimulate this literature is to identify and question its underlying assumptions. For example, in our research, we grounded our investigation in the experiences of employees which challenges the dominant perspective in the field. This approach created a number of insights regarding how employees actively navigate unfair events, including how employees can impact their own fairness perceptions through their emotional and behavioral responses as well as the functional nature of negative emotions.

We would encourage new scholars and incoming researchers to challenge assumptions in the literature and also consider how applying theories from other domains and perspectives to fairness can enhance our insights. Doing so will create exciting new opportunities to expand our understanding and ability to manage this important phenomenon. Given the pervasiveness and impact of unfairness, it is critical to provide employees and organizations with evidence-based practices that can help prevent these experiences, where possible, and effectively navigate unfairness when it does occur.

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Stress photo attributed to whoismargot. (CC)

 

Group decision making: Are you the bully?

[We’re please to welcome author David Dryden Henningsen of Northern Illinois University. Henningsen recently published an article in the International Journal of Business Communication entitled, “Nuanced Aggression in Group Decision Making” co-authored by Mary Lynn Miller Henningsen, also of Northern Illinois University. The article is currently free to read for a limited time. From D. Henningsen:]

IJBC_v51n1_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgWhat inspired you to be interested in this topic? Reflecting on our experiences in meetings, my co-author and I both noted the presence of people who rely on bullying or whining as their preferred influence style. It occurred to us that this is likely a common experience. Everyone probably knows a whiner and/or a bully. Examining the literature on group decision-making revealed that this is an area that has been largely unaddressed by scholars. We decided to conduct this study as a preliminary test of the effects of whining and bullying in organizations. It was the insights of one of the reviewers which helped us to frame both bullying and whining as aggressive behavior, but that offers an intriguing perspective on how submissive behaviors (i.e., whining) need not be passive behaviors.

Were there findings that were surprising to you? The findings were largely consistent with our belief that whining and bullying would be detrimental in the workplace. There is an interesting sex difference that emerges with regard to effectiveness. Whereas women tend to feel effectiveness is hurt by the presence of whining, bullying, or both, men tend to feel effectiveness is really only hurt when both whining and bullying occur.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice Although this is an exploratory study, it provides important insights into the use of aggressive tactics to gain influence. There is a lot of research on informational and normative influence. However, we suspect that non-rational forms of influence are fairly common in the workplace. We hope to further explore how those tactics may offset more rational approaches.

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The Positive Collective: The Impact of Positivity on Team Performance

9151232338_b29ffc5441_z[We’re pleased to welcome Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock. Nale recently published an article in Group & Organization Management entitled “Understanding Positivity Within Dynamic Team Interactions: A Statistical Discourse Analysis” with co-authors Ming Ming Chiu, Zhike Lei, and Simone Kauffeld.]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Positivity has been studied extensively at the individual level, and studies have shown that having a positive, optimistic outlook has numerous benefits for the individual.

However, when you consider the reality of the workplace, most of us work in some kind of team setting. So this was a research gap: How does positivity emerge in dynamic team interactions, rather than viewing it as an individual experience?

Much of our attitudes and experiences at work are shaped by the social context, in terms of what our co-workers are doing, and in terms of timing. For example, whether or not a team member expresses positivity could depend on the momentary focus of a team conversation (e.g., focusing on problems versus on solutions) and also on the temporal context (e.g., positivity might be more likely later on in a team meeting, when lots of good ideas have been brought to the table).

Moreover, I’m fascinated by the concept of conversation dynamics, or conversation flow: Consider a team meeting where one speaker dominates the discussion, versus a meeting that is truly dynamic. Positivity should be more likely when the team GOM_Feb_2016.inddconversation is more dynamic, such that many team members are involved and invested.

In addition to predicting when positivity would emerge within team conversation processes, we were also interested in performance linkages. Given the many individual benefits of being optimistic, we expected that team positivity would also aid team performance.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Speaker switches – i.e., how dynamic a team interaction was – played a major role. Speaker switches led to an immediate “boost” in positivity, and they also elevated the effects of other conversation characteristics on positivity (e.g., positivity was more likely after a solution statement particularly when there were lots of speakers involved).

But what I found really  astonishing was the fact that team and individual variables (e.g., how much an individual team member talked overall) explained only 8% of the variance in positivity. Instead, the major driving forces of positivity within team interactions were the behaviors preceding each positivity statement. Timing also played an important role (positivity was more likely in later time periods within a meeting).

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

In terms of research implications, our findings suggests that we really need to study the micro-level dynamics of behaviors in teams. Studies that focus on the individual or team level will likely miss out on most of the variance in subtle team behaviors such as positivity.

In line with several calls for more dynamic team research, our findings emphasize the need to include a temporal perspective. Innovative methods such as Statistical Discourse Analysis, which we applied in this study, can help us address this need.

Our finding that overall positivity was meaningfully linked to team performance has managerial implications. Team leaders should pay attention and actively encourage positivity in team interactions, as these behaviors help implement ideas and move the team forward.

The abstract for the paper:

Positivity has been heralded for its individual benefits. However, how positivity dynamically unfolds within the temporal flow of team interactions remains unclear. This is an important oversight, as positivity can be key to team problem solving and performance. In this study, we examine how team micro-processes affect the likelihood of positivity occurring within dynamic team interactions. In doing so, we build on and expand previous work on individual positivity and integrate theory on temporal team processes, interaction rituals, and team problem solving. We analyze 43,139 utterances during the meetings of 43 problem-solving teams in two organizations. First, we find that the observed overall frequency of positivity behavior in a team is positively related to managerial ratings of team performance. Second, using statistical discourse analysis, we show that solution-focused behavior and previous positivity within the team interaction process increase the likelihood of subsequent positivity expressions, whereas positivity is less likely after problem-focused behavior. Dynamic speaker switches moderate these effects, such that interaction instances involving more speakers increase the facilitating effects of solutions and earlier positivity for subsequent positivity within team interactions. We discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of micro-level team positivity and its performance benefits.

You can read “Understanding Positivity Within Dynamic Team Interactions: A Statistical Discourse Analysis” from Group & Organization Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Group & Organization Management? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Smiley faces image attributed to ghatamos (CC)

 

Book Review: The Paradox of Generosity: Giving We Receive, Grasping We Lose

Paradox Generosity Book Cover

C. Smith, H. Davidson (2014). The paradox of generosity: Giving we receive, grasping we lose. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 261 pp., US$ 29.95 (hardcover).

Jim Alexander of Indiana University–Purdue University recently took the time to review the book in the December 2015 issue of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. From the review:

Smith and Davidson carefully walk the reader through empirical research which confirms that lives of well-being cause the practice of generosity and that generous practices cause an improved quality of life in those who consistently give of themselves. Despite the causal loop between one’s quality of life and the generous acts they perform, the authors find that most Americans choose not to consistently practice generosity, opting for the supposed comfort of cultural individualism. Indeed, most Americans do NVSQ_72ppiRGB_powerpointnot routinely give money, volunteer for causes of which they are passionate about, or regularly practice acts of neighborly generosity.

To investigate this trend, the authors move from impressive survey data into detailed qualitative interviews of ungenerous individuals. Far from uncompassionate, ungenerous Americans, across economic backgrounds, displayed lives of existential anxiety and clung to notions of self-preservation in the face of the unexpected. Coupled with the pressures of individualism, ungenerous Americans routinely understood practices of generosity as a low priority. Alternatively, Smith and Davidson found that generous individuals experience less existential anxiety and preoccupation with self-preservation because they tend to view their lives as full of abundance without an overriding need to seek more from the world.

You can read the full review from Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and have all the research and reviews like this sent directly to your inbox!

John Paul Stephens on Aesthetics in Design Thinking

[We’re pleased to welcome John Paul Stephens of Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Stephens recently collaborated with Brodie J. Boland, also of Case Western Reserve University, on their paper entitled “The Aesthetic Knowledge Problem of Problem-Solving With Design Thinking” from Journal of Management Inquiry.]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

JMI_72ppiRGB_powerpointIn attending the 2010 “Convergence: Managing + Designing” workshop at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, we were struck with a particular question. Isn’t “managing as designing” (or “design thinking” for some folks) simply all about aesthetics? If so, what does this mean for managers and their organizations?

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

In researching for this essay, we were struck by the mix of opinions and research on how well managers and organizational systems could rely on “design” and using non-rational forms of problem-solving. More recent thinking has suggested that organizations today really need to incorporate novel, less-familiar ways of defining and generating solutions for problems.

But there are also arguments that the management education and the reward systems in organizations are all set up to focus on rationally getting to the bottom-line through selecting from pre-determined options. Also, even though design thinking seems to be a pretty popular way to approach problems in organizations these days, it still hasn’t been defined clearly, and is still limited to only a few key adopters. We tried to take in all perspectives saying that 1) we agree that new ways of seeing problems and their impacts are needed 2) using art-based forms of defining problems and generating solutions provides insight into things that are usually hard to see and talk about 3) this relies on aesthetic knowledge – or the ‘feel’ of a problem for the people involved – and therefore on engaging our bodily senses and 4) not very many organizations are set up to draw on this kind of knowledge based in what we see, hear, touch, smell, and even taste.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

We hope that our research into this provides a more concise and meaningful definition of design thinking. We believe that at its core, design thinking is about generating and using aesthetic knowledge to define a problem and generate appropriate solutions to it. This means that when designers try to translate their practice for managers, they need to be up front about how important the body and its senses are for problem-solving. This also means that managers and the entire organizational system need to acknowledge where the body gets devalued or is made invisible at work. If an organization wants to adopt design thinking, then it needs to lay a lot of ground work to do so successfully. For organizational researchers, this means that it is important to focus on the body when trying to study complex problem-solving and decision-making. At some level, we all study what is meaningful for the human beings who make up organizations, and how people use their bodies will always be an important aspect of that meaning-making.

You can read “The Aesthetic Knowledge Problem of Problem-Solving With Design Thinking” from Journal of Management Inquiry for free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research like this from Journal of Management Inquiry? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

jps136John Paul Stephens is an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. He pursues research on the felt experience of organizing, in terms of the emotional characteristics of high-quality relationships at work and the aesthetic experience of coordinating as a group. He received his PhD in organizational psychology from the University of Michigan.

picture-40800Brodie J. Boland is a management consultant based in Toronto. His research interests are primarily in the areas of institutional change, social movements, and ecological sustainability. He earned his PhD in organizational behavior from Case Western Reserve University.

Should We Focus on Service Quality or Emotions? How to Build Customer-Brand Relationships to Increase Marketing Performance

 [We’re pleased to welcome Bettina Nyffenegger of the Institute of Marketing and Management at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Dr. Nyffenegger recently collaborated with Harley Krohmer, Wayne D. Hoyer, and Lucia Malaer on their article “Service Brand Relationship Quality: Hot or Cold?” from Journal of Service Research.]

Portrait_B.Nyffenegger

Bettina Nyffenegger

Managers often have to decide whether their marketing activities should focus on improved services and functional features or on more emotional content to develop strong customer-brand relationships. That was a challenge that the Head of Marketing of a large European Airline was facing at the time we conducted a research project on brand relationship quality (BRQ), a customer-based indicator of the strength and depth of the person-brand relationship. Should emotions or quality-related, more functional aspects have more weight in the brand’s marketing campaign? How do they affect marketing performance (such as customer’s willingness to pay, word-of-mouth (WOM), consideration set, share-of-wallet, and revenue)? These were some of his questions that we tried to answer in our new research published in the Journal of Service Research (JSR).

Based on a large-scale survey among the frequent flyers of the Airline and objective performance data from the frequent flyer program, we show that service BRQ involves two components, “Cold” BRQ and “Hot” BRQ. We also find important and relevant distinction between the two in terms of both antecedents and consequences.

–             “Cold” BRQ is based on object-relevant beliefs resulting in satisfaction and trust. It is characterized by a high confidence in and a positive evaluation of the service brand’s performance (i.e., it is tied to the quality of the service).

–             “Hot” BRQ reflects consumers’ feelings and emotional connection to the brand. Longing for the brand, feelings of emotional closeness to the brand, and the intention to stay with the brand through good times and bad are crucial elements of the hot component.

Our results reveal that investments in both hot and cold BRQ have an economic impact by influencing customer behaviors. Thus, service providers should cultivate both the hot and cold BRQ of their customers, but for different reasons.

If the main objective is to grow revenues from the existing customer base (i.e., “internal” growth via a higher willingness to pay and a reduced consideration set size of existing customers), managers may want to focus on building hot BRQ with their customers. On the other hand, if their main objective is to expand the customer base by acquiring new customers (i.e., “external” growth via more intense WOM activities of existing customers), cold BRQ becomes more important.

More specifically, hot BRQ has been shown to have a stronger impact on customers’ willingness to pay. Thus, instead of lowering prices (e.g., when faced with high competition and heavy price cutting), it may pay off for service providers to focus on the emotional value they provide to customers and to build up hot BRQ. As an example, Starbucks customers are willing to pay a relatively high price for their coffee due to the emotional brand experience and connections.

In addition, hot BRQ is also more important for a reduced consideration of competitive brands. Thus, those service providers who can establish strong emotional ties with their customers achieve a sound protection from competitive threats and new competitors.

Cold BRQ better helps to attract new customers through positive WOM. While emotions may play an important role, for example, in viral marketing activities, customers need to be convinced about the quality and reliability of the service in order to recommend the service brand to others.

In addition, our research examined how such hot and cold consumer-service brand relationships can be developed. Our results suggest that to increase hot BRQ in early stages of consumer-brand relationships, managers should focus on enforcing consumer’s perception of the fit between his/her self and the brand’s personality (self-congruence).  To create an emotional connection between new customers and the brand, managers should adopt a customer perspective in defining service brand personality. This means, for example that the design of the service environment, marketing communications, and behavior of frontline personnel have to create brand personality associations that foster similarity of perceptions with the customers.

In later stages of the relationship, managers should gradually develop the brand’s partner quality (i.e., whether the brand/company treats the customer well, shows interest in, and cares for him/her) in order to increase hot BRQ. Partner quality is also crucial for the build-up of cold BRQ – in early and even more in later stages of a consumer service-brand relationship. This illustrates the important role of a brand’s representatives. Caring and empathetic service experiences they create reduce uncertainty and increase confidence in the quality and reliability of the brand.

_________________

Bettina Nyffenegger is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Institute of Marketing and Management at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Her main research fields are branding, relationship marketing, and consumer behavior with articles published in journals such as the Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and Journal of Service Research.

The article Service Brand Relationship Quality: Hot or Cold? featured in the post was co-authored by Bettina NyffeneggerHarley KrohmerLucia Malaer (Institute of Marketing and Management, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland), Wayne D. Hoyer  (McCombs School of Business, The University of Texas at Austin). It is available ahead of print at Journal of Service Research website. Journal of Service Research is the world’s leading service research journal that features articles by service experts from both academia and business world.

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Republished with permission. The original post was published on the Center for Services Leadership blog.

The Hidden Costs of Working Sick

sneeze-894326-mWork doesn’t stop when we’re under the weather. But how does feeling bad affect how we perform our jobs? To address this question, Michael Christian, Noah Eisenkraft, and Chaitali Kapadia of the Kenan-Flager Business School at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill investigate how somatic complaints such as pain and illness affect how much people help their coworkers and expend less effort on their job. Tracking two samples of office workers over time, the researchers linked pain at work to ebbs and flows job performance via its effects on the worker’s energy.

Explaining their findings, the researchers argue that pain and illness consumes the same energy people use for motivation and direct towards performing work tasks. As a result, workers in pain are more ASQ_v59n3_Sept2014_cover.inddlikely to withdraw and narrow their focus to just the essential parts of their job role. People in pain, whether the pain is caused by a chronic condition or a fleeting headache, are less likely to help coworkers or make constructive suggestions for improvement at work. On the bright side, the study reported that these effects diminished over time. Long-term sufferers of chronic pain have an increased capacity for balancing daily job demands with pain.

The implications? Daily changes in physical health should be “legitimized” at work. Employees are often asked or obligated to work regardless of how poorly they feel. This is bad for business. Organizations that want the best performance from their employees should be proactive about employee health, developing and implementing effective treatments and symptom management strategies, especially for those employees who have chronic health conditions. Leaders who recognize that an employee’s physical health—rather than his or her commitment—can affect performance may reap long-term benefits by showing understanding to their workers. The study is published in Administrative Science Quarterly.

[The study is entitled “Dynamic Associations among Somatic Complaints, Human Energy, and Discretionary Behaviors: Experiences with Pain Fluctuations at Work” and can be read for free from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here.]