Writing as ‘skin’: Negotiating the body in(to) learning about the managed self

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Deborah N. Brewis of the University of Bath and Eley Williams of the University of London. They recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “Writing as skin: Negotiating the body in(to) learning about the managed self,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, they briefly describe the inspiration for this research:]

One makes a braille of our hide, and attempt to interpret its textures and scry it haptic mimicry and pantomime of feeling…

Eley and I met and became friends by chance four years ago at the Feminist and Women’s Studies Association conference as I overheard her talking about the town that I had recently moved to, and that she grew up in. Serendipity plays a large part in interdisciplinary collaborations, even when moments of connection are helped along by seeking out such spaces.

We were inspired to explore together how research writing can be challenged, stretched, and reshaped to do more; specifically to struggle with bringing the body into scholarly writing. I had been fascinated with ‘haptic visuality’ and the communication of embodiment in film (Marks 2000, Sobchak 2004). I had also read Eley’s creative writing and had been affected by its rich, sometimes overwhelming, exploration of relationality: her playfulness with words show the frustration and delight involved as we wrestle with language to communicate our inner worlds to others.

We started to explore the notion that writing could be skin-like: a negotiating surface that is inscribed on, scarred, by the world around it, but also expressive of an inner reality; resistant and fleshy. In the process of conducting and writing research, we are pulled in different directions that draw us away and toward our bodies: we seek to abstract concepts, norms and patterns from our data, and yet many of us also seek to communicate nuance, and contradictions within them that are often tied into deeply personal realities. As we talked and wrote and elicited feedback from others, the qualities of human skin, both physical and the meanings attached to it culturally and historically, provided a metaphor almost too rich for our purposes that we (suitably for a project on skin) needed to contain. So, we focused on three properties of skin as tools to facilitate thinking through how the text can be allowed to be more experiential, without being consumed by the body:

– Porosity: to explore ways in which the scientific academic text can be pierced at different moments to let experiences, sensations, and subjectivity permeate.

– Sense-ability: to craft the texture of the writing to communicate at both cognitive and embodied levels with the reader; eliciting physical response and memories.

– Palimpsest: to make visible the layers that form the text including the work of others, collaboration, and academic institutions and processes; but also our own half-thoughts.

We engaged in a critical-creative experiment by working together across disciplines and by including both art and research by others in discussing how skin has offered critique and insight. In another gift of serendipity, we received some evocative photographs from Anni Skilton at Medical Illustration at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, inspired by the piece and that now accompany it, enhancing what we call its ‘aeffectiveness’. In this piece, we wanted to show and not just describe how skin-writing can enrich research in management and organisation studies. We hope that others will find skinfulness useful in findings ways in which scholarly writing can stretch and touch and show its vulnerability.

Marks, L. U. (2000). The skin of the film: Intercultural cinema, embodiment, and the senses. Duke University Press.

Sobchack, V. (2004). Carnal thoughts: Embodiment and moving image culture. Univ of California Press.

Stay up-to-date with the latest research from the journal and sign up for email alerts today through the homepage!

A Reflection by David Jiang on “More Than Meets the Eye”

[We’re pleased to welcome authors David S. Jiang of Georgia Southern University, Franz W. Kellermans of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Timothy P. Munyon of the  University of Tennessee, and M. Lane Morris of the University of Tennessee. They recently published an article in the Family Business Review entitled “More Than Meets the Eye: A Review and Future Directions for the Social Psychology of Socioemotional Wealth,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Jiang reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

fbra_30_2.coverThis research is based on the first author’s dissertation, which is a winner of the Family Firm Institute’s 2017 Best Dissertation Award. The article reviews 421 papers published across 25 journals during the past decade to propose new directions for the social psychology of socioemotional wealth (SEW), which is a popular concept and theoretical perspective in the family business literature that deals with the nonpecuniary benefits that family members derive from control over their family firm.

What motivated you to pursue this research?
SEW research has helped significantly advance the family business literature since Luis Gomez-Mejia and colleagues first introduced SEW in 2007. However, although SEW research has already done a lot for the literature, we also believe that it can do so much more. Motivated by these beliefs, we originally spent 2 years (2014-2015) in the review process at the Academy of Management Review (AMR) trying to outline the emotional aspects of SEW, only to have our work rejected in the last round on a split editorial team decision. After this rejection, we realized that what we really needed to do was review the SEW literature in ways that would first establish a foundation to understand the many psychological phenomena that fit within SEW research. This is why we are thrilled to have our work on this subject published in Family Business Review (FBR) – a high-quality outlet that can help further the psychological understanding of various SEW phenomena and outcomes.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research?
We think that the most challenging aspects probably came from the review process. We were trying to say something that was connected to but very different from what existing SEW research has already said and/or done. Naturally, it’s often difficult to seamlessly communicate novel ideas in ways that reviewers will immediately understand with a first draft. Recognizing this, after we received feedback from the first round of FBR reviews, we realized that we had to extensively change our analytical strategy and approach in order to be as comprehensive as possible. This way, we could address the reviewers’ many concerns while still maintaining our core message and contributions. Although our original submission to FBR reviewed 41 SEW articles, as can be seen in the published article, our final sample included 421 articles. Altogether, it was extremely challenging to increase the review’s scope by more than ten-fold in a 3-month revision window! Needless to say, the first author spent a lot of late nights culling through the expansive SEW literature to create an action plan that utilized the authorship team’s collective strengths and expertise.

How do you think your research will impact the field?
It is difficult to tell at first but we hope that our article will ultimately help build stronger family firm microfoundations. We think there are a lot of novel directions that SEW and broader family firm research could go from here and hope that other scholars will agree and join us in these pursuits!


Stay up-to-date with the latest research from the Family Business Review and sign up for email alerts today through the homepage!

Mindfulness Leads to Positive Outcomes at Work

3752743934_586c123f3c_zMindfulness training can help individuals increase their attention and awareness, but how can this present-centered mindset help in the workplace? The recent article published in Journal of Management entitled, “Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review” from authors Darren J. Good, Christopher J. Lyddy, Theresa M. Glomb, Joyce E. Bono, Kirk Warren Brown, Michelle K. Duffy, Ruth A. Baer, Judson A. Brewer, and Sara W. Lazar delves into the applications of mindfulness at work. Their findings suggest that mindfulness training can have a broad, positive impact across key workplace outcomes. The abstract from the paper:

Mindfulness research activity is surging within organizational science. Emerging evidence across multiple fields suggests that mindfulness is fundamentally connected to many aspects of workplace functioning, but this knowledge base has not been systematically integrated to date. This review coalesces the burgeoning body of JOM 41(3)_Covers.inddmindfulness scholarship into a framework to guide mainstream management research investigating a broad range of constructs. The framework identifies how mindfulness influences attention, with downstream effects on functional domains of cognition, emotion, behavior, and physiology. Ultimately, these domains impact key workplace outcomes, including performance, relationships, and well-being. Consideration of the evidence on mindfulness at work stimulates important questions and challenges key assumptions within management science, generating an agenda for future research.

You can read “Contemplating Mindfulness at Work: An Integrative Review” from Journal of Management free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from  Journal of ManagementClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

During the month of April, you can access 1.5 million article across SAGE Publishing’s 940+ journals for free–how? Sign up here for free trial access!

*Rock tower image credited to Natalie Lucier (CC)


The December Issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is Now Online!

The December issue of Administrative Science Quarterly is now available and can be read online for free for the next 30 days. This issue offers a range of thought-provoking articles on organizational studies as well as insightful book reviews.

The lead article, “What’s Love Got to Do with It? A Longitudinal Study of the Culture of Companionate Love and Employee and Client Outcomes in a Long-term Care Setting,” was authored by Sigal G. Barsade of University of Pennsylvania and Olivia A. O’Neill of George Mason University. You can read the abstract below:

In this longitudinal study, we build a theory of a culture of companionate ASQ_v59n4_Dec2014_cover.inddlove—feelings of affection, compassion, caring, and tenderness for others—at work, examining the culture’s influence on outcomes for employees and the clients they serve in a long-term care setting. Using measures derived from outside observers, employees, family members, and cultural artifacts, we find that an emotional culture of companionate love at work positively relates to employees’ satisfaction and teamwork and negatively relates to their absenteeism and emotional exhaustion. Employees’ trait positive affectivity (trait PA)—one’s tendency to have a pleasant emotional engagement with one’s environment—moderates the influence of the culture of companionate love, amplifying its positive influence for employees higher in trait PA. We also find a positive association between a culture of companionate love and clients’ outcomes, specifically, better patient mood, quality of life, satisfaction, and fewer trips to the emergency room. The study finds some association between a culture of love and families’ satisfaction with the long-term care facility. We discuss the implications of a culture of companionate love for both cognitive and emotional theories of organizational culture. We also consider the relevance of a culture of companionate love in other industries and explore its managerial implications for the healthcare industry and beyond.

You can access the Table of Contents for this issue by clicking here. You can keep up-to-date on all the latest news and research from Administrative Science Quarterly by clicking here to sign up for e-alerts!

The Need for a Happy Holiday

Vacations are made for enjoyment. Seeing old friends, relaxing, sightseeing, and escaping the daily grind are all undeniably appealing. But various factors including holiday stress, fellow travelers, and tiredness can sometimes make a vacay not so happy.

The Journal of Travel Research published a study that answers the question: How happy are tourists during a day of their holiday and what makes them happy? The article offers suggestions for tourism managers to enhance travelers’ experiences, as well as for tourists who want to increase their chances of a happy vacation:

How happy are tourists during a day of their holiday and what makes them happy? These questions were addressed in a study  of 466 international tourists in the Netherlands. While on vacation, tourists are generally high on hedonic level of affect, with positive affect exceeding negative affect almost fourfold. Affect balance is higher than generally observed in everyday life,  whereas tourists’ life satisfaction is not significantly different compared with life satisfaction in their everyday life. Vacationers’ socioeconomic backgrounds and life satisfaction only partially explain their affective state of the day. Most of the variance is explained by factors associated with the holiday trip itself. During a holiday, holiday stress and attitude toward the travel party are the most important determinants of daily affect balance. These findings imply that on the whole, the tourism industry is doing a good job. The industry could probably do better with more research on experiences during the holiday.

Click here to read the article, “Determinants of Daily Happiness on Vacation,” published by Jeroen Nawijn, tourism lecturer at NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences. in the September 2011 issue of the Journal of Travel Research, and click here to receive e-alerts about new research from the journal.

The Blame Game

Elizabeth M. Poposki, Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, published “The Blame Game: Exploring the Nature and Correlates of Attributions Following Work–Family Conflict” in the May 2011 issue of Group & Organization Management. Professor Poposki kindly provided some background on her article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

Scholars and practitioners interested in work-family and work-life balance issues.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

The challenge individuals face when attempting to manage multiple life roles and goals is fascinating to me, and is informed by my own personal and working life.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Perhaps not surprising, but interesting – I found that people overwhelmingly attributed conflict between work and family to external sources (i.e., they did not blame themselves) and that they were much more likely to attribute the conflict to work than to family (or any other source). I also found a great deal of variance with respect to whether people felt the conflict was stable or unstable, global or local. I think those findings are particularly interesting when you consider that conflict is generally measured as an overall perception where we don’t have the capacity to assess different types of conflict or directions of blame.

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

I argue in the paper that researchers should focus more on the process of conflict, or on events of conflict as they occur, rather than on overall perceptions of conflict and their relationships (generally correlational) with antecedents and consequences. Hopefully some of the results will encourage researchers to do just that.

How does this study fit into your body of work/line of research?

My overall focus is on work-life issues, with an emphasis on social and cognitive factors impacting the process of conflict – so this paper is very much in line with that.

How did your paper change during the review process?

I received some wonderful feedback and suggestions from the reviewers and editorial team. Largely, the paper became more focused and streamlined.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could go back and do this study again?

I would have more money and time, and measure reactions to more conflict events over time!

Bookmark and Share

Barsky, Kaplan and Beal discuss their article, “Just Feelings? The Role of Affect in the Formation of Organizational Fairness Judgments.”

Adam Barsky, Seth A. Kaplan and Daniel J. Beal discuss their article, “Just Feelings? The Role of Affect in the Formation of Organizational Fairness Judgments.” recently published in the Journal of Management. 

* Who is the target audience for this article?

This article is targeted at researchers interested in the different ways in which affect and justice perceptions are related. Specifically, the justice literature seems to be moving strongly in the affective direction in the past few years after a long history of focusing on the more cognitive questions with respect to justice (i.e., What constitutes fair process? How do individuals evaluate their inputs and outcomes, etc.). We hope that our paper provides a framework for studying role of feelings as both an input and outcome of justice perceptions

* What Inspired You To Be Interested In This Topic?

The initial inspiration for this topic came from the nephew of the first author back in 2003.  When playing a game with friends, the outcome was not what he would have liked (he lost), and he cried that it was unfair. In conversation about the incident, it occurred to us that people often do not consider objectively how they are treated (i.e., free from bias) when they feel unfairness, but instead may use fairness as an explanation or post-hoc rationalization for their feelings.  Investigating the issue further, Drs. Barsky and Kaplan published a meta-analysis linking affect and justice perceptions in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2007, and then sought to develop a more complete conceptual framework along with Dr. Beal in the theory paper now in press at the Journal of Management.    

* Were There Findings That Were Surprising To You?

Since our paper is theoretical, there are no new empirical “findings” per se.  However, our thinking certainly evolved over the course of the development of the manuscript.  While we began with a fairly simplistic model, as we became exposed to the extensive and nuanced affect literature, the multiplicity of pathways linking justice and feelings became apparent. As we worked through the thorny issues, such as the difference between emotion and mood effects, we were constantly surprised by the ingenuity of affect and justice researchers in addressing the problems in their primary research. 

* How Do You See This Study Influencing Future Research And/Or Practice?

Any theoretical paper servers as both a summation of a body of knowledge, and as a means of generating new primary research.  We attempted to pack our paper as full of new ideas as we could fit, with the hope that some would stick in people’s minds and encourage them to investigate further what we consider to be an interesting and important area of research.  In general, our paper is aligned with a general trend within the discipline toward greater appreciation of the affective context in which judgment and decision-making occur.  The paper’s practical application is in suggesting that management of feelings and the emotional context are critical considerations alongside the management of information and objectives.

* How Does This Study Fit Into Your Body Of Work/Line Of Research?

The first two authors have been investigating the role of affect in organizational judgments for a number of years, including meta-analyses published in Psychological Bulletin (Thoresen, Kaplan, Barsky, Warren, & de Chermont, 2003) and the Journal of Applied Psychology (Barsky & Kaplan, 2007), and the third author has investigated affective influences on work behaviors in both theoretical (Beal, Weiss, Barros, & MacDermid, 2005) and empirical (Beal, Trougakos, Weiss, & Green, 2006; Beal & Ghandour, in press; Trougakos, Beal, Green, & Weiss, 2008) papers. The basic question of how people make sense of their feelings within the workplace has been a common question that has drawn us together.

* How Did Your Paper Change During The Review Process?

The paper was re-written basically from scratch no less than 4 times during the review process which spanned almost 3 years and multiple journals.  The evolution of the paper is perhaps better described as punctuated equilibrium than as a slow and gradual process of development. The size and complexity of both the affect and justice fields, and the lack of agreement about basic definitional issues within each field, caused us to continually re-evaluate the assumptions upon which the structure of the paper rested.  We were lucky to have very competent and highly developmental reviewers and editors throughout the process who challenged us to truly create a meaningful contribution to the field. 

* What, If Anything, Would You Do Differently If You Could Go Back And Do This Study Again?

On one hand, having an accepted paper at a prestigious outlet suggests that the answer to that question is “nothing.” On the other hand, when we consider the various incarnations of the paper, another obvious answer would be to skip those intermediate steps and head right to where we ended up (presumably saving us almost 3 years). Of course, we could never have ended where we did without the benefit of our earlier thinking on the topic. Ultimately, if we think about what would have saved us a great deal of time and effort, we’d have to say that spending a little less time exploring tangential implications of the theories we were working with and spending a little more time considering the broader structure of the paper and its storyline would have helped tremendously.


Barsky, A. & Kaplan, S. A. (2007). If you feel bad, it’s unfair: A quantitative synthesis of affect and organizational justice perceptions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 286-295 

Beal, D. J. & Ghandour, L. (in press). Stability, change, and the stability of change in daily workplace affect. Special issue on Intraindividual Processes Linking Work and Employee Well-Being, Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Beal, D. J., Trougakos, J. P., Weiss, H. M., & Green, S. G. (2006). Episodic processes in emotional labor:  Perceptions of affective delivery and regulation strategies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 91, 1053-1065.

Beal, D. J., Weiss, H. M., Barros, E., & MacDermid, S. M. (2005).  An episodic process model of affective influences on performance.  Special issue on Theoretical Models and Conceptual Analyses, Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1054-1068.

Thoresen, C. J., Kaplan, S. A., Barsky, A. P., Warren, C. R. & de Charmont, K. (2003). The affective underpinnings of job perceptions and attitudes: A meta-analytic review and integration. Psychological Bulletin, 129, 914-945

Trougakos, J. P., Beal, D. J., Green, S. G., & Weiss, H. M. (2008). Making the break count:  An episodic examination of recovery activities, emotional experiences, and positive affective displays. Academy of Management Journal, 51, 131-146.

Bookmark and Share