Barker’s (1993) study of self-managed work teams demonstrated the tremendous power of normative control to influence behavior within work units. Ekman (1972) refers to norms focused on emotion expression as “display rules.” Display rules are implicit guidelines for which emotions are appropriate to express and how they should be expressed in specific social situations within the work unit. These display rules are especially strong in organizations where emotional labor is expected (Hochschild 1983, Ashforth and Humphrey 1993). In this paper, we explore and develop theory to link the variation in the strength of work unit anger norms, anger expressions, and outcomes.
Extending Emotional Labor
Emotional labor generally refers to the effort needed to express organizationally desired emotion during interpersonal transactions (Beal Trougakkos Weiss and Green 2006, Morris and Feldman 1996). A key part of the definition of emotional labor is that the intimacy of human emotion can be commodified for the benefit of the organization and is literally part of the labor process (Domagalski 1999, Hochschild 1983, Elfenbein 2007). Employees are most often expected to constrain negative felt emotions and replace them with expressed positive ones designed to impress clientele (Beal et al. 2006, Gibson 1997). Emotional labor is particularly prevalent among boundary-spanners, especially those in the service sector (Ashforth and Humphrey 1993), where quality is vital to customer satisfaction (Elfenbein 2007); thus, much of emotional labor research has focused on specific types of workers such as: cheerleading instructors; administrative assistants; flight attendants; bank workers; bill collectors and Disneyland employees (Beal et al. 2006, Grandey 2003, Hochschild 1983, Pugh 2001, Sutton 1991, VanMaanen and Kunda 1989). These occupations tend to have strong prescriptive norms about emotional expression.
Recently, emotion theorists have integrated ideas of emotion regulation (Gross, 1998) into their thinking about emotion labor and identified both individual and organizational consequences of employees engaging in emotional labor (Grandey 2000). While emotional labor continues to attract research attention, and at least one study begins to explore norms governing emotional display (Kramer and Hess, 2002), the research to date does not capture the full range of variance in the norm type (such as