Grandey 2003, Hochschild 1983, Pugh 2001, Rafaeli and Sutton, 1989), we reasoned that work units characterized by high levels of boundary spanning, such as service workers, would view anger negatively and would have display rules that tried to constrain anger expressions. We expected that for these organizations, displaying anger in front of clients or customers would be viewed as potentially damaging. We selected a nursing home, a women’s health unit and a department of social workers in the U.S. as examples of work units where we expected to find display rules that constrained anger expressions. We label these types of work units “suppressing” work contexts. In addition, we selected a comparable department of social workers in Asia (specifically in Singapore) to compare the two units for cultural differences in anger norms.
In contrast, we also selected settings we believed would value anger expressions. For example, Izard (1993) argued that coaches use anger to motivate their athletes and foster contempt for opposing teams and coaches. We reasoned that coaches might express anger at their athletes’ current performance to motivate increased levels of performance. We also expected that labor unions would value and legitimate anger expressions because, as social movement theorists argue, union organizers express anger over perceived systematic injustice to recruit new members and motivate them to take action (Benford and Snow 2000). Finally, we reasoned that work units characterized by high pressure or intermittent crises (e.g., life or death situations) might be more likely to generate and allow spontaneous anger expression without penalty. We selected a hospital operating room as one possible unit. We label these types of work units “legitimating” work contexts.
We asked respondents from each work unit a common set of questions. They were each asked to describe recent anger episodes in their work unit, to describe the participants, the circumstances, how the anger was expressed and the outcomes of each episode. We garnered a total of 156 anger episodes from 64 interviewees. Interviews lasted 40 to 90 minutes. Women comprised 78% of the interviewees (50), 87.5% were White (56), 3.1% were Black (2) and 9.1% were Asian (6). For emotional labor research