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Diagnosing emotions in
organizations
Mari Simola
University of Helsinki, Institute of Behavioural Sciences
mari.simola@hel...
Questions for the presentation
• How can we reach, define and become more conscious
• on the role of emotions in organizat...
Theoretic framework
• Combining ideas from
• the analytics of governmentality and governance studies
• affect theories
• O...
Governance - Regulation of the social
Dean is giving following definition for ‘governance as the conduct of
conduct’:
”Gov...
Governance
• Mitchell Dean (1999, 13) is defining governance “as an activity that shapes the
field of action, and thus, in...
Governance
• Interest in construction of mentalities, beliefs, hierarchies and
practices as a dynamic process
• Multidimen...
Emotion
• understood here as relational; existing in relation to something or
somebody.
• Emotions work in social (societa...
Affect
• affect is ontologically inseparable element of the
social, explaining the biological and physical of it.
• affect...
What do/can emotions tell us on social and
organizational dynamics?
• Irritation as a sign of something stagnate and hidde...
Structure of feeling
• ‘the felt sense of the quality of life at a particular place and time’ (Raymond Williams
1975, 57; ...
Structure of feeling
• potential of the concept
• focusing the feelings and the felt (impulses, restraints, tones) as a pa...
Structure of feeling – Responses to
immigration
18.2.2016 12
Case 1: Development initiative faces the resistance
– discussion with the academic developers
• Individual and organizatio...
Conclusions on emotions/affect
• Reaction on external threat
• Professional and academic boundaries become visible
• Invol...
Example 1: Cultural space and involvement
• “The feeling of something not currently working was missing here, so
participa...
Cultural space and involvement
• ”This is describing the situation which we wanted to create for the
process. We were thin...
Example 1: Physical space
• “ Well, we had absolutely boring office, but our tables were locating like
this. My table was ...
Physical space
• “And then the seminar room, where we are able to teach this kind of course.. So
the teaching facilities, ...
Case 2: School reform in elementary
education
Expected changes
1. Pedagogic changes and the launch of the new curriculum (...
How to analyse the case
• What are the conditioning and contextual factors defining the
possibilities for action?
• What k...
Contextual and conditioning factors
• What are the different kind of factors defining the possibilities and restrains for ...

I have a permanent contract
Pupils behave well
I like working here
I like to try new things

Atmosphere is bad here
I d...
Power and the changing relationships, roles
and ideals
Principle for organizing
the work
Examples of the
practices
Ownersh...
What kind of emotions are expressed and
connected to
• the relations between people?
• the activities and practices?
• one...
Questions for the further exploration
• What kind of emotions are attached to different kinds of change
processes?
• How d...
References
• Ahmed, S. (2004). The cultural politics of emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh
University Press.
• Dean, M. (1999)....
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Diagnosing emotions in organizations (18.2.)

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Presentation for annual meeting of adult education researchers, 18,2.2016

How can we reach, define and become more conscious on the role of emotions in organizations, the way they influence and construct the interaction, different kind of emotional dilemmas and tensions? The main aim of this presentation is to present some conceptual, but concrete tools to be used in diagnosing the organizational “health”, preferably by both researchers and practitioners.

My thinking is based on the research on governance of organizations, so called affect theories and my own research on the role of emotions in development of higher education. These theoretic resources are used in constructing the idea of the organizational change and life as “an organic tissue”, where possibilities and obstacles are in flux. Organizations are seen as constantly evolving, historically layered and socially constructed places, where internal and external forces meet and the different kind beliefs and practices arise, meet and conflict.

Emotions are understood as social and physical elements of the human behaviour and social life. Emotions are something, which are both uncontrollable by their nature and something which we – at least to some extent – can influence in. Role of emotions is crucial if we are interested in the way different kind of conflicts are handled, and how categorizations (gender, occupation, ethnic and cultural differences) are constructed and re-constructed.

The presentation consists on the short introduction to theoretic thinking and the concepts, and the illustration of their use in practice.

Main concepts: governance, emotions, organizations

Published in: Education
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Diagnosing emotions in organizations (18.2.)

  1. 1. Diagnosing emotions in organizations Mari Simola University of Helsinki, Institute of Behavioural Sciences mari.simola@helsinki.fi Aikuiskasvatuksen tutkimuspäivät 18.1.2016, Jyväskylä, Finland 18.2.2016 1
  2. 2. Questions for the presentation • How can we reach, define and become more conscious • on the role of emotions in organizations • the way they influence and construct the interaction, different kind of emotional dilemmas and tensions? • How can we understand organizations and their social and interactional dynamics better through the exploration of emotions? • What kind of tools do we need? 18.2.2016 2
  3. 3. Theoretic framework • Combining ideas from • the analytics of governmentality and governance studies • affect theories • Organizations as constantly evolving, historically layered and socially constructed places, where internal and external forces meet and the different kind beliefs and practices arise, meet and conflict. • Emotions are understood as social and physical elements of the human behaviour and social life. • Organically evolving nature of the social life 18.2.2016 3
  4. 4. Governance - Regulation of the social Dean is giving following definition for ‘governance as the conduct of conduct’: ”Governance is any more or less calculated and rational activity, undertaken by multiplicity of authorities and agencies, employing a variety of techniques and forms of knowledge, that seeks to shape conduct by working through our desires, aspirations, interests and beliefs, for definite but shifting ends and with diverse set of relatively unpredictable consequences, effects and outcomes.” (Dean 1999, 11, kursiivi MS.) 18.2.2016 4
  5. 5. Governance • Mitchell Dean (1999, 13) is defining governance “as an activity that shapes the field of action, and thus, in this sense, attempts to shape freedom.” • Governance is a various set of activities and practices, which are working to structure the field of action, as well as actors’ capacities to act (Dean 1999, 14). • Governance is not seen here as one-way activity (of dominance) but a set of more complex, plural and relational techniques and ways of constructing different ‘truths’ and rationalities and making them work (Dean 1999, 18-19). • “To analyse government is to analyse those practices that try to shape, sculpt, mobilize and work through the choices, desires, aspirations, needs, wants and lifestyles of individuals and groups.” (Dean 1999, 13) • Governmentality: what kind of ideals, beliefs, concepts, positions – mentalities- become (re-)produced & on which kind of ideals they are based on 18.2.2016 5
  6. 6. Governance • Interest in construction of mentalities, beliefs, hierarchies and practices as a dynamic process • Multidimensional and layered nature of practices and mentalities (historical, temporal, cultural; formal/informal; new/old) • Changing possibilities • Assumption of intersectionality and difference of positions • Differences as a source of different possibilities and understanding for what is (understood as) possible for whom • Gender, ethnicity, education, occupation, age, socio-economic background 18.2.2016 6
  7. 7. Emotion • understood here as relational; existing in relation to something or somebody. • Emotions work in social (societal, political and more personal) relationships and modify behaving. (Ahmed 2004, 10.) • Emotion as a social glue, “emotions shape what bodies can do” (Ahmed 2004, 4); bodies, or people, are then bounded socially in certain relationships and reactions by emotions. • Emotional relationships are continually constructed and given meaning through social practices. • Our experience of emotions – how we interpret and give meanings to them – are culturally situated and positioned. (Ahmed 2004; Gorton 2007.) • Different emotions, for example fear, shame, love and hate, work in relations, constructing and constructed by the social categories and hierarchies. (Ahmed 2004, 2011) 18.2.2016 7
  8. 8. Affect • affect is ontologically inseparable element of the social, explaining the biological and physical of it. • affect as intensity (tension, wave), something which is in between the people, people and the other material and as something which is, to a human, uncontrollable and autonomous. (Massumi 2002) • affectivity as to affect and be affected (Massumi 2002), which I find comparable to the relational idea of governmentality. • affective dimension can be bodily felt, but experienced through the person’s own thoughts and previous experiences, which makes this interpretation always socially constructed. 18.2.2016 8
  9. 9. What do/can emotions tell us on social and organizational dynamics? • Irritation as a sign of something stagnate and hidden becoming more visible because of the action -> start exploring here!!! • How emotions regulate and construct • Social relationships • Roles and positions • Attitudes and beliefs (good/bad) • Hierarchies • Social order …(old, new, expected, evolving) • And in turn how the social order regulates the emotions, meanings attached to them and understanding on what is right, good and accepted • What kind of emotions stabilize certain social order or challenge it? 18.2.2016 9
  10. 10. Structure of feeling • ‘the felt sense of the quality of life at a particular place and time’ (Raymond Williams 1975, 57; quoted by Harding & Pribram 2004). • “multiplicity of structures of feelings that operate in a complex interactive web of emotional and other discursive and non-discursive events and responses” and which they see as “interactional, culturally constituted and historically changing” (Harding & Pribram 2004, 418). • connects the foucauldian idea of power to the analysis of the emotional & the societal and public to the private and individual. (ibid. 417-418.) • the structure of feeling means the emotional dimension of “organization of discourses that shape what is culturally permissible for specific categories of subjects to express as part of their constitution within contemporary power relations”. • Emotions experienced by individuals need to be located in and across the time periods and cultural spaces, which in turn connects the structure(s) of feeling to the construction of social categories, e.g. gender. (ibid. 419). • . 18.2.2016 10
  11. 11. Structure of feeling • potential of the concept • focusing the feelings and the felt (impulses, restraints, tones) as a part of lived life experience within a specific social and cultural context, and on bringing the affective experience equally important source of information on culture as lived. (Williams 1975, quoted by Harding & Pribram 2004, 416-417.) • on exploring the “categories of existence beyond the rational and empirical without rendering them irrational” • how to understand emotions as cultural experience and culturally shared. • the concept is able to give tools for investigating intellectually something which is sensed personally, but without limiting the interpretation of them as “psychological” but social 18.2.2016 11
  12. 12. Structure of feeling – Responses to immigration 18.2.2016 12
  13. 13. Case 1: Development initiative faces the resistance – discussion with the academic developers • Individual and organizational development initiatives, varying from the national discipline-based reformation connected to Bologna process to the development of the course • Interviews on succesful experiences 18.2.2016 13
  14. 14. Conclusions on emotions/affect • Reaction on external threat • Professional and academic boundaries become visible • Involvement as a tool for creating discussion and commitment • Physical space • Distance and the feeling of belonging • Classroom & office architecture as obstacles and possibilities • Constructions of ideals of teaching and knowledge construction, hierarchies between groups of actors 18.2.2016 14
  15. 15. Example 1: Cultural space and involvement • “The feeling of something not currently working was missing here, so participants did not have an idea of something being wrong, in the need of fixing. They were hiding in the corners of their bunkers, they were completely and deeply inside there. Not reacting or responding on anything. The threat was seen as too big, but I think it had something to do the fact that someone had indeed got the idea of the development project. “(Interview 3, 10/2014) • “Yes I realized that under this threat a lot of networking started to emerge among our discipline. We shared the anxiety and worry and thus organized a lot of common meetings. -- Otherwise, without a project, there would have been a real threat of a wipe out of the whole discipline. There was a lot of pressure and critique [from the ministry] on why we were not presenting any bigger savings. However, the result was that academics had to work together.” (Interview 5, 10/2014) 18.2.2016 15
  16. 16. Cultural space and involvement • ”This is describing the situation which we wanted to create for the process. We were thinking how to involve as many partners and actors into the process, so that there will be this level of administration, disciplinary decision making, central administration and the faculties. And of course there was also a lot of different networks crossing the university institutions. For example the network of deans, many of the questions were something they are not only specific for this particular academic subject. We were trying to involve all the possible actors, who might have an impact in the potential success, so it would penetrate the activities at all the levels. (Interview 5, 10/2014, bolded MS) 18.2.2016 16
  17. 17. Example 1: Physical space • “ Well, we had absolutely boring office, but our tables were locating like this. My table was here, my computer here. I think we drew lots on places.. I was sitting here, N. was here and then we had a shared table here in the middle. Door was here, the bookself here and here. We spent there a lot of time, I had a lot of back problems, -- And we had a lot of paper everywhere. Somehow, I find it was really important that we got the own room, we could all the time talk aloud. Also, we were both quite similar what it comes to our way of concentrating, we felt it was ok to interrupt another one and to speak aloud. I think a lot by talking. And also, that you knew another one was working on if not exactly the same but anyways on something related to shared task. So it was possible to work aloud. Maybe it was also important that for our boss it was ok that two people were working fulltime on a same task, not working alone.” (Interview2, 10/2014) 18.2.2016 17
  18. 18. Physical space • “And then the seminar room, where we are able to teach this kind of course.. So the teaching facilities, what kind of classrooms are available. I think we explored the all the possible classroom in this university, when we trying to find the one with movable chairs and tables. And a lot of reorganizing, every time we started our teaching, we had to relocate the tables, to build up the spaces for group discussion. Quite often students were sitting in the same group for the whole course, it was not required, it just happened. But it is still a problem to find a proper place. When we taught our first courses [around 2005/2007], we still had an old school to use, where the movable chairs and tables were in all classrooms. We had a lot of teaching there, but then it was sold by the university. There are quite a few suitable rooms in the central campus. – Therefore, it is probably one of the main problem here there is not so many architecturally suitable sites for this kind of teaching available, and they are usually very reserved. And if you have a group of over 15 people, it’s even more difficult. (Interview2, 10/2014) 18.2.2016 18
  19. 19. Case 2: School reform in elementary education Expected changes 1. Pedagogic changes and the launch of the new curriculum (2016) 2. Intercultural education and more heterogenic classes 3. Administrative change in the role of the head teacher, launch of the area managers 4. School mergers 18.2.2016 19
  20. 20. How to analyse the case • What are the conditioning and contextual factors defining the possibilities for action? • What kind of problems and tensions arise? What kind of feelings are felt and experienced? By whom? Why? In what kind of situations? • How do the expected and experienced changes challenge and change the roles of actors, relationships between them, understanding of teaching/management/learning? • What kind of emotions become attached to the change process as such? 18.2.2016 20
  21. 21. Contextual and conditioning factors • What are the different kind of factors defining the possibilities and restrains for action, and which might also explain some of the tensions and problems faced? • What kind of resources are available? Money, time, people, facilities? • Local context • Location in rural/central/metropolitan area? What kind of connections to rest of the world exist? • Who are the residents? Where do they come from? What do they do? How do residents see their relationship to local school and the area? Do they feel the belongining? • What kind of mentalities seem to be found? What kind of bubbles (Trifft) exist? Religious? Political? What is seen as right and recommended? • School as an institution • school as institution and organization • the teachers, pupils and head teacher’s role • idea of “what is the proper way of teaching” • understanding of the nature of knowledge and the way of acquiring it (concept of learning, e.g. von Wright, Tynjälä). • However, according to Sahlberg and Scholomon, not only the pedagogy needs to change, but also the organization of the school has to reflect the power shifts in teacher-student –relationship. • E.g. supervisor – doctoral student relationship in university 18.2.2016 21
  22. 22.  I have a permanent contract Pupils behave well I like working here I like to try new things  Atmosphere is bad here I don’t like those other teachers I don’t know whether they’ll continue my contract I teach alone! Wow. A lot of different kind of kids in my class. I want a master to guide me!!! But you need to learn to make decisions together…. Experienced emotions, problems and tensions 18.2.2016 22
  23. 23. Power and the changing relationships, roles and ideals Principle for organizing the work Examples of the practices Ownership of the decision making on what is important Ownership of control and acceptance of results Student-centred learning Problem-based learning, inquiry based learning Students defining the problems/topics with the help of the teacher (vs. teacher) Students (self- evaluation) and teachers (vs. teachers alone) Collaborative teaching Two teachers teaching together, shared classroom, Two teachers together (vs. one teacher) Both teachers (vs. one teacher) Shared leadership Empowering, team work Teachers together with the head teacher (vs. head teacher alone) Teachers together with the head teacher 18.2.2016 23
  24. 24. What kind of emotions are expressed and connected to • the relations between people? • the activities and practices? • one’s own work? • change process as such? 18.2.2016 24
  25. 25. Questions for the further exploration • What kind of emotions are attached to different kinds of change processes? • How do emotions regulate certain social practices and their stability? • How the emotional climate (atmosphere) of the school could be secured or improved at the times of scarce resources and practical pressures towards more efficiency? How to connect resource awareness to the wellbeing? 18.2.2016 25
  26. 26. References • Ahmed, S. (2004). The cultural politics of emotion. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. • Dean, M. (1999). Governmentality: Power and rule in modern society. London: Sage. • Gorton, K. (2007). Theorizing emotion and affect feminist engagements. Feminist Theory, 8(3), 333-348. • Harding, J., & Pribram, E. D. (2002). The power of feeling locating emotions in culture. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 5(4), 407-426. • Massumi, B. (2002). Parables for the virtual: movement, affect, sensations. Durham, N.C.: Duke U.P. • Simola, M. (2015). It’s affective! Presentation to CHERIF summer school, 6/2015 Jyväskylä, Finland 18.2.2016 26

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