Anger at Work:
Anger Expressions, Work Unit Norms and Outcomes
Emotions can generate important outcomes for organizations (Barsade and Gibson 2007, Frost 2003, Geddes and Callister 2007). This is particularly true for anger (Allred 1999, Brief and Weiss 2002, Domagalski 1999, Fitness 2000, Glomb and Hulin 1997, Morris and Keltner 2000, Pillutla and Murnighan 1997). Anger expressions at work may affect the quality of job satisfaction, team interactions, trust, and performance (Barsade 2002, Barsade Ward Turner and Sonnenfeld 2000, Boccialetti 1988, Dunn and Schweitzer 2005, Glomb 2002). Anger can induce perceptions of injustice, deviance, dissatisfaction, revenge and incivility (Andersson and Pearson 1999, Bies Tripp and Kramer 1997, Spector 1997). At intense levels, anger may be acted out as aggression or violent behavior within organizations (Greenberg and Barling 1998, Neuman and Baron 1998, Robinson and Bennett 1997). Thus, understanding the effects of anger expressions in the workplace has direct relevance to employee well-being and organizational efficacy.
We define anger as a psychological and biological state that may include: feelings that vary in intensity from mild irritation to fury and rage; physiological responses such as the arousal of the neuroendocrine and autonomic nervous systems; cognitive reactions; and behavior tendencies (Glomb 2002, Spielberger 1999). Anger occurs as part of a sequence of events constituting an anger “episode”—a transaction between the individual and the situation (Lazarus 1991). These events typically also include antecedents (triggers), forms of expression, contexts and outcomes. While considerable attention has been directed to the antecedents of anger episodes (c.f., Averill 1982, Fehr Baldwin Collins Patterson and Benditt 1999, Lazarus 1991, Russell and Fehr 1994), less attention has been given to their outcomes and to the influence of the social context and the form of expression on these outcomes.
Anger outcomes refer to the changes that occur during and following an anger expression. Empirical studies have shown that individuals involved in anger episodes experience both negative as well as positive outcomes (Averill 1982, Glomb and Hulin, 1997), even from the same episode. In