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

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

Chapter 9
Emotions and
organizational control

Stephen Fineman

School of Management, University of Bath, UK

Organization implies control. A social organization is an ordered arrangement of
individual human interactions. Control processes help circumscribe the idiosyn-
cratic behaviors and keep them conformant to the rational plan of the organiza-
tion.

(Tannenbaum, 1968, p. 3)

Organizations have long been regarded as places where control is of the essence. Indeed, control and organization are, for many observers, synonymous. Writing some 20 years before Tannenbaum, Max Weber, with wistful resignation, laid out his own influential vision of control in the 'ideal' bureaucracy:

… the more the bureaucracy is “dehumanized” the more completely it succeeds in
eliminating from official business love, hatred, and all purely personal, irrational and
emotional elements which escape calculation. This is the specific nature of bureau-
cracy and it is appraised as its special value.

(Weber, 1946, pp. 215–216)

Yet the image of the rational organization, a place where emotions, the “idiosyncratic”, can be controlled out of existence, or at least placed in a safe place, is now a patently naive one (e.g. see Fineman, 1993, 2000). We do not have to look far to discover that emotions and feeling are deeply woven into organizational fabric and they define and shape all manner of practices—from supervision and decision making to culture and community. Furthermore, both the dimensionality and moral framing of control are markedly more complex than the early organizational writers led us to believe. While some managerial theorists take it as

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