contexts and forms of expression, we introduce our qualitative methodology. Using grounded theory and multi-dimensional scaling we identify differences in work unit anger contexts, forms of anger expression and types of anger outcomes. Then, we examine the patterns of outcomes that emerge for different forms of expression in different anger contexts and synthesize our insights into a model for future research.
Our paper makes the following contributions. First, we extend emotional labor research by examining variations in work unit norms – suppressing or legitimating, and the strength and clarity of prescriptions regarding anger displays. Second, we extend understanding of emotion expression as both an individual and meso-level phenomenon by examining anger expressions, work unit anger norms and their impact on both individual and collective outcomes. Third, we examine whether differential consequences accrue with different anger expressions and work unit anger norms.
Anger as Social Construction
Recent commentary assessing the body of extant research on emotions has concluded that it focuses primarily on individuals and their intra-individual processes of emotional registration, regulation and expression, and how differences in emotion regulation strategies influence outcomes (c.f., Gross 1998, Gross and John 2003). While a few studies of anger at individual and dyadic levels have described the social psychological dynamics of feeling and expressing anger (Consedine Magai and Bonanno 2002, Fehr et al. 1999, Fitness 2000, Glomb and Hulin 1997, Tavris 1989), empirical studies of the impact of the organizational or work unit context on anger expressions and outcomes are rare. The rationale for emphasizing the work unit context in understanding emotional expressions is derived in part from theories of emotions as social constructions (Fineman 2000, Hochschild 1983). Emotions and their expression are embedded in social situations that include relationships of the parties (c.f., Côté 2005, Mumby and Putnam 1992). These social situations affect how individuals appraise the harms and benefits of a situation (Lazarus 1991, Ren and Gray, 2008) and ascribe meaning to events, and these meanings trigger emotional responses (Weiss and Cropanzano 1996). Mismatches between the normative context within work units and individual propensities may prove problematic.