Emotions at Work: Theory, Research, and Applications in Management

By Roy L. Payne; Cary L. Cooper | Go to book overview

Chapter 3
Discrete emotions in
organizational life

Richard S. Lazarus and Yochi Cohen-Charash

University of California, Berkeley, USA

Since the 1960s, there has been a tremendous growth of interest in research and theory in the arena of work stress. This was brought about by an increasing awareness that stress has a complicated relationship with important human values, such as subjective well-being, somatic health, and the functional efficiency of individuals and business organizations; it can facilitate these values as well as impair them. There have been many groundbreaking books on the subject of work stress, which focus on both organizational and personality variables. These include among others the classic early work of Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal (1964), and the highly respected series edited by Cooper, Kasl, & Payne (e.g. Cooper & Payne, 1980, 1991), of which the present volume is the latest.

Psychology and other social sciences have also become more comfortable with subjective epistemological and meta-theoretical outlooks that are alien to radical behaviorism and logical positivism, its main philosophical underpinning. We are better prepared now than in the past to recognize ubiquitous individual differences, interactions among multiple variables, and a systems-theory approach to research. There is also beginning to be some limited understanding and acceptance of the importance of relational meaning, which is discussed on pp. 53–56.

Although there are a growing number of exceptions, what has not happened in organizational research and theory is a widespread recognition that the discrete emotions experienced at work constitute the coin of the realm in our understanding of the struggle of employees to adapt to organizational life. Better than any other source of information, the emotions can reveal the dynamics of this

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