EGOS subtheme 2021


Justifications for organizing an inclusive society


Dirk Lindebaum

Grenoble Ecole de Management, France

Ismael Al-Amoudi

Grenoble Ecole de Management, France

Jean-Pascal Gond

Cass Business School

City, University of London, UK


To most things we do, there is a justification—conscious or otherwise. When we make decisions, principles of accountability and transparency impel us to offer a justification as to why we decided this rather than that. In our ‘audit society’ (Power, 2000), managerial and organizational activities involve continuously the use of justifications, or ascertaining “a good reason or explanation for something” (Online Cambridge Dictionary).

This proposed subtheme seeks to broaden and explore the concept of justifications to better understand how we can organize ourselves for a (more) inclusive society (i.e., a society that embraces equality and respect for diversity as an antidote to waning solidarity). For Forst (2017: 34), justifications, and the orders of justifications that they add up to over time, are foundational for social reality. In his words, “every social order must be conceived as an order of justification [that] consists of a complex web of different justifications”. His thinking aligns thus with the work of Boltanski and Thévenot (2006: 37), who see an ‘imperative to justify’ as central to maintain collective action despite disputes, or Berger and Luckmann (1966: 93), who underline ‘legitimation’ and ‘justifications’ as central elements in the construction of social reality.

In light of these conceptualizations, justification is by essence a political process, since it shapes the interpretational sovereignty of whose reality is valid, or whose reality matters more than that of others. Further to this, justifications help explain ethical or moral norms, or concepts of the ‘common good’, and actively shape what kind of future it will be worth having (e.g., creating a more just society by exposing patterns of domination and exploitation (Scherer, 2009). At the same time, they can be misused to turn evidence-based policies into policy-based evidence (e.g., political debates around Brexit, where facts seem to matter less, or climate-scepticism).

Given the ubiquity of justifications in the construction of social reality, this ‘meta-theme’ impinges upon a variety of topics that are of intrinsic interest to organisational theory, such as power and control (Al-Amoudi & Latsis, 2014; Gond, Barin Cruz, Raufflet, & Charron, 2016), fake news, ‘alternative facts’ and conspiracy theories (Knight & Tsoukas, 2019; Schreven, 2018), normative theorizing (Lindebaum & Gabriel, 2016; Suddaby, 2014), rationality and decision-making (Lindebaum, Vesa, & den Hond, 2020), and choices of paradigms and methods (Guba & Lincoln, 1994), to name only a few.

It is against this background, and irrespective of theoretical or methodological traditions, that we invite submissions that address a range of indicative but not exhaustive themes:

Unpacking organizational and material dynamics of justification

  • While organizational studies of the ‘economies of worth’ (EW) provide a conceptual grammar of normative principles referred to as distinct ‘worlds’, scholars have not yet fully analysed the foundation of organizational heterarchy (Stark, 2009), nor unpacked the mechanisms underlying multiple forms of justification within each world (e.g., distinct forms of worth in the green or market world). What insights can be gained by probing deeper into the each ‘world’ through the ‘Five Whys’ test (Serrat, 2017)? Can we distinguish distinct dynamics of justification within each world?
  • Can we cross-fertilize analytically distinct conceptualizations of justification to unpack further the moral foundations of organizational dynamics of justification?
  • What is the role of material artefacts in justification dynamics? Do they operate mainly through ‘tests of worth’, or can they play a more agentic role in justification dynamics? How can technology contribute to establish and challenge moral justifications, especially when its design to ‘bring things to people’ rather than ‘bring people to things’ implies abject and immoral decisions (Lindebaum et al., 2020)?

Organizing for the common good through justification

  • If an inclusive society and/or the pursued of the common good is the goal, how can justification frameworks help us understand how multiple visions of the common good compete, interact or are dynamically organized and combined? How and why can the dominance of one world marginalise others, and how can marginalisation be reversed? How can dominant (im)moral orders be subverted?
  • What is the potential of theories of moral development to enrich the existing literature on EW on their cognitive side, given that the former is concerned with the principles (and hence justifications) through which to achieve justice? Reciprocally, can the focus of the EW on the multiple forms of common goods help enrich theories of justice and fairness in the workplace? What is the role of justification in individual and organizational processes of ethical decision making?

Exploring how power plays through (and without) justification

  • With a nod to Lenin’s famously stated power question ‘who whom?’, how can justifications be (i) (ab)used by powerful individuals or organisations to get away with saying what about whom, and to (ii) decide “who is in a position to stop other people saying what about them” (Garton Ash, 2016: 292)?
  • What is the role of secrecy and unobtrusive power so that power can escape justifications?
  • What are the causes and processes through which one world (e.g., the industrial world) becomes more dominant than others (e.g., inspired world)? Do higher orders of worlds imply ‘hierarchy’ of worlds?

Approaching justifications as epistemological devices

  • Since paradigms represent basic belief systems that “must be accepted simply on faith” (Guba & Lincoln, 1994: 107), what measures can be envisaged to hone the justification underlying paradigmatic choices, and how that enables the approximation of truthfulness?
  • What can American pragmatism (e.g., Wright Mills, 1940) teach us about justification dynamics?
  • What role do justifications play as methodological, epistemological and/or pedagogical tools to produce, transfer or translate knowledge (e.g., rigour vs relevance debate?)


Al-Amoudi, I., & Latsis, J. 2014. The arbitrariness and normativity of social conventions. The British Journal of Sociology, 65(2): 358-378.

Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. 1966. The Social Construction of Reality. New York: Doubleday.

Boltanski, L., & Thévenot, L. 2006. On Justification: Economies of Worth. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Forst, R. 2017. Normativity and Power: Analyzing Social Orders of Justification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Garton Ash, T. 2016. Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World. London: Atlantic Books.

Gond, J.-P., Barin Cruz, L., Raufflet, E., & Charron, M. 2016. To Frack or Not to Frack? The Interaction of Justification and Power in a Sustainability Controversy. Journal of Management Studies, 53(3): 330-363.

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. 1994. Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research: 105-117. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Knight, E., & Tsoukas, H. 2019. When Fiction Trumps Truth: What ‘post-truth’ and ‘alternative facts’ mean for management studies. Organization Studies, 40(2): 183-197.

Lindebaum, D., & Gabriel, Y. 2016. Anger and Organization Studies – From Social Disorder to Moral Order. Organization Studies, 37(7): 903-918.

Lindebaum, D., Vesa, M., & den Hond, F. 2020. Insights from ‘The Machine Stops’ to better understand rational assumptions in algorithmic decision-making and its implications for organizations. Academy of Management Review, 45(1): 247-263.

Power, M. (2000), The Audit Society — Second Thoughts. International Journal of Auditing, 4: 111-119.

Scherer, A. G. 2009. Critical Theory and its Contribution to Critical Management Studies. In M. Alvesson, T. Bridgman, & H. Willmott (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of critical management studies: 29–51. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schreven, S. 2018. Conspiracy Theorists and Organization Studies. Organization Studies, 39(10): 1473-1488.

Serrat, O. 2017. The Five Whys Technique, Knowledge Solutions: Tools, Methods, and Approaches to Drive Organizational Performance: 307-310. Singapore: Springer Singapore.

Stark, D. C. 2009. The Sense of Dissonance: Accounts of Worth in Economic Life. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Suddaby, R. 2014. Editor’s Comments: Why Theory? Academy of Management Review, 39(4): 407-411.

Wright Mills, C. 1940. Situated Actions and Vocabularies of Motive. American Sociological Review, 5(6): 904-913.


Convenor Biographies

Dirk Lindebaum is Professor in Organisation & Management at Grenoble Ecole de Management (France). Favouring the pursuit of ideas over disciplinary boundaries, his research seeks to understand the mechanisms through which we lose (and can regain) freedom at work, be it through emotional or technological means. His work regularly appears in news outlets, such as Financial Times, New York Times, BBC Radio 5 Live, Wirtschaftswoche, Independent, Fortune Magazine and Bloomberg Business Week, to name only a few. For more information, please visit his website: https://dirklindebaum.EU

Ismael Al-Amoudi (Phd, University of Cambridge) is Professor of organisational theory at Grenoble Ecole de Management. He is also the Director of the Centre for Social Ontology and an Associate Editor of Organization. Ismael’s research stands at the intersection of social theory, ethics and management studies. He is particularly interested in how social norms are justified and transgressed, and how norms matter to people’s powers, sense of worth and identity. Recent publications include papers in Academy of Management Learning & Education; British Journal of Sociology; Business Ethics Quarterly; Cambridge Journal of Economics; Human Relations; Organization; and Organization Studies.

Jean-Pascal Gond is Chair Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Cass Business School, City University London, UK. His research, which investigates the social construction of CSR and the performativity of management theories, has been published in journals such as Academy of Management Review, Business Ethics Quarterly, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Journal of Management or the Journal of Management Studies. Jean-Pascal Gond is member of EGOS since 2003 and has attended all the EGOS conferences since then, including as sub-theme convenor over several years.



(NEW DEADLINE 1 October 2020)


Freedom, work & organizations in the 21st century – Freedom for whom & for whose purpose?


Guest Editors:

Lynne Andersson (Fox School of Business, Temple University, USA)

Dirk Lindebaum (Grenoble Ecole de Management, France)

James Chamberlain (Political Science & Public Administration, Mississippi State University, USA)

Michelle Greenwood (Monash Business School, Monash University, Australia)

Frank den Hond (Hanken School of Economics, Finland & Faculty of Social Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, the Netherlands)


Freedom is one of those concepts that many – if not most – people are intuitively happy to embrace. Freedom is good, and more freedom is better. At the same time, “the meaning of this term is so porous that there is little interpretation that it seems able to resist” (Berlin, 1969/1999: 159). Freedom is core to many socio-cultural politico-economical events, be they contemporary (e.g., Brexit) or historical (e.g., the US Declaration of Independence, the French Revolution). Small wonder that, with this pedigree, freedom is perhaps the archetypical Western value, and thus culturally circumscribed. However, upon deeper inspection, freedom can also be a problematic concept.

We learn from Enlightenment philosophers (e.g., Kant, 1996) that freedom is an obligation and a right; that is, we are obliged to treat oneself and others as ends in themselves and not merely as means to some end, and to develop oneself in the fullest sense of the meaning. Liberal thinkers across disciplines (e.g., Rawls, Berlin, Dewey, Fromm or Mill) value freedom, and recognize that this in turn requires certain constraints on individual conduct. These constraints can at least be partly explained through some of the different conceptualizations of freedom. For example, Berlin argues that negative freedom is concerned with the question “what is the area within which the subject — a person or group of persons — is or should be left to do or be what he is able to do or be, without interference by other persons?”, whereas the positive freedom concept seeks to answer the question “what, or who, is the source of control or interference that can determine someone to do, or be, this rather than that?” (1969/1999: 160).

For the purpose of this special issue, we wish to explore both how freedom structures and legitimizes organizations, and how it provides a critical benchmark against which to evaluate them. Rather than privileging one particular account of freedom among numerous candidates, we encourage submissions that examine it from diverse perspectives, reflecting the intuition that how freedom is mobilized (and for what purposes) varies across contexts and is intimately connected to specific relations of power and interests. As such, this special issue exhibits a firm commitment to better understanding social relations in and around work (Turner, 2017).

In relation to work, different forms of freedom raise distinct questions and problems. For example, workers enjoy significant negative freedom when management takes a hands-off approach, but unless workers are actively involved in decision-making at the level of the organization, they remain subject to domination and relatively unfree. Another example concerns occupational freedom more broadly: individual workers may be free to choose jobs in the sense that no other agent is determining this for them, yet they lack freedom in the sense that they have little input on the broader labour market. So, when multiple persons, groups, or organizations come together, questions of how much freedom, what kind of freedom, and whose freedom is to be pursued (or constrained) are inescapable and of utmost political magnitude. Individual versus community, ‘freedom from’ versus ‘freedom to’ (Fromm, 1941/2011), or freedom versus equality are but a few of key contradictions that can emerge.

Like others before us, we maintain that freedom is inextricably linked to dominant socio-economic conditions (Fromm, 1941/2011). That is, work is never abstract, but it is concrete work in a specific economic system (industrial vs cognitive capitalism) or context (cf. manufacturing vs. digital work) that shapes how free we are and how we relate to each other. Elizabeth Anderson’s (2017) treatise on ‘private governments’ and the objection of constructing ‘community’ around the idea of paid work (and the loss of freedom it entails) in the current capitalist system (Chamberlain, 2018) are only two examples to this end. The contemporary relevance of examining freedom is also underlined by reports show that the richest eight individuals hold the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity (OXFAM, 2018), and that more than 40 million people across the globe work under conditions of slavery (Andersson et al., 2018). These accounts underline that some people are economically freer than others. But freedom is also under pressure when businesses are “using artificial intelligence to scrutinise staff behaviour minute-to-minute by harvesting data on who emails whom and when, who accesses and edits files and who meets whom and when” in order to evaluate staff (Booth, 2019).

In a policy and practical sense, therefore, we believe that far too much scholarship in management and organization studies focuses upon the regulation and manipulation of workers for organizational or economic purposes, as opposed to the emancipation (Lindebaum, 2017) of workers and the understanding of neoliberal capitalist constraints upon it. It is our hope that scholarly attention to freedom in the context of work can contribute to building novel solutions and robust action (Ferraro et al., 2015) in terms of new forms of worker activism, reconfigurations of work, and the building of institutional forces to pressure and counter neoliberal ideology (Redman and Snape, 2004; Fleming, 2014).


With this special issue, our objective is to invite critical interrogations of the meaning of freedom and its current and potential relationship with social relations in and around work. We ask, in particular, (i) What is freedom in the context of work in the 21st century? (ii) How does freedom relate to the way we organize ourselves in the present socio-economic conditions? And finally, (iii) How could a reconfiguration of the meaning of freedom translate into changes concerning what and for whose purpose we organize ourselves – and ultimately, our socio-economic conditions?

We look forward to receiving submissions from a variety of philosophical, theoretical, and empirical traditions. At the same time, we particularly encourage imaginative yet rigorously argued submissions reflecting dedication to normative theory (i.e. what ought to be?), as well as submissions subscribing to the idea that human imagination can precede scientific discovery (Arendt, 1958/1985). It is against this background that we invite submissions that address a range of indicative but not exhaustive themes and questions, below.

Example Questions:

Conceptualising and measuring Freedom and Work

  • How is freedom defined for and by workers?
  • How is work freedom bound by prevailing (and possible future) socio-economic conditions?
  • How have Enlightenment values (or a lack thereof) contributed to contemporary conceptions of worker freedom?
  • Given this, can we operationalize and measure freedom?
  • What is the function (Wright, 1973) of freedom across levels of analysis? For example, what challenges and opportunities would a functional analysis of freedom offer for workers, groups or teams, organizations or society in response to growing economic inequalities?

Diagnosing Freedom in Contemporary Work

  • What are the varying degrees of employee freedom, from modern slavery (Andersson et al., 2018) to the work arrangements of the ‘precariat class’?
  • How do workers gain or lose freedom at work? What are the tools (emotional, financial, structural, technological) and processes through which this proceeds?
  • Given the contradictory meaning of freedom under neoliberalism, what are the psychological and sociological mechanisms through which this ostensible contradiction emerged and continues to exist, and how can we better understand them?
  • Are some workers freer than others, and what role does diversity (e.g., class or racial identity, gender, sexuality) at work play in this?

Barriers to Freedom and Overcoming Them

  • How do voluntary servitude (Lindebaum and Courpasson, 2019) and the abdication of worker autonomy play against worker freedom? Specifically, and in direct challenge to Kant’s version of enlightenment, what is the role of ‘nudging’ (Helbing et al., 2017) or ‘human hacking’ (Harari, 2018) in rendering workers incapable to see through the power relations surrounding and manipulating them (Connerton, 1976)
  • What is the role of technology, especially AI and robotics in affording or obstructing worker freedom (Lindebaum, Vesa & den Hond, 2019)?
  • What potential fresh insights can be provoked by linking the idea of freedom with the literature of alternative organizing (Parker et al., 2014)?
  • What role do or should labor unions play in expanding the freedom of workers?
  • What opportunities and challenges do worker cooperatives or co-ownership schemes hold?
  • What insights can the notion of the identity-resistance-control nexus (Gotsi et al., 2010) bring to understanding freedom at work in the 21st century?

Work in the Global Context

  • How do borders and, in particular, employment-related immigration policies, affect the freedom of both local and migrant workers? How does the governance of migration respond to the valuation of work and its depiction as a site of freedom?
  • What organizing strategies are available to migrant workers to contest their domination? What effects (positive or negative) do or might successes in this area have on the freedom of local workers?
  • Can the expansion of freedom on a global scale be premised on the incorporation of ever greater numbers of people, especially in the global South, into the formal labour market?

The scope of submission is intentionally broad, but submissions should have a bearing on the theme of freedom and work, as well as a visible desire to contribute to a better understanding of social relations in and around work, as per the overall purpose and general guidelines of Human Relations.

A prerequisite for all submissions must be firm theoretical grounding in the relevant literature. For theoretical pieces, we expect that they also offer significant novel theoretical insights. For empirical papers, we expect that they have a strong methodological design, competently execute the data analysis, and offer significant new insights as a result. Authors are strongly encouraged to refer to the Human Relations website and the instructions on submitting a paper for more details about the types of manuscripts that will be considered for publication.

Contributors should note:

  • This is an open and competitive call for manuscripts, and the submitted manuscripts will be blind reviewed by experienced scholars in the field.
  • Submitted manuscripts must be based on original material not accepted by or under consideration by any other journal or publication outlet.
  • For empirical papers based on data sets from which multiple papers have been generated, the guest editors must be provided with copies of all other papers based on the same data to ensure a unique intellectual contribution is being made.
  • The guest editors will select a number of papers to be included in the special issue, but other papers submitted in this process may be considered for publication in other issues of the journal.

The deadline for submissions is 1 June 2020 with submissions submitted no earlier than 01 May 2020. The special issue is intended for publication in 2022.

To be considered for this special issue, submissions must fit with the aim and scope of Human Relations. Papers should be prepared in accordance with the journal’s submission guidelines. Papers to be considered for this special issue should be submitted online. Please indicate in your cover letter that the submission is intended for this Special Issue. Please direct questions about the submission process, or any administrative matter, to the Editorial Office:

The Cfp can also be found on the journal’s website:

Questions about expectations, requirements, and the appropriateness of a topic should be directed to the guest editors of the special issue. They are also open to discussing initial ideas for papers, and can be contacted by email:

Lynne Andersson (

Dirk Lindebaum (mail@dirklindebaum.EU)

James Chamberlain (

Michelle Greenwod (

Frank den Hond (



Anderson E. (2017) Private Government How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It), Princeton , NJ: Princeton University Press.

Andersson L, Lindebaum D and Pérezts M. (2018) Book Review Symposium: Slavery In and Around Organizations. Organization Studies.

Arendt H. (1958/1985) The Human Condition, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Berlin I. (1969/1999) Two Concepts of Liberty. In: Warburton N (ed) Philosophy” Basic Readings London: Routledge, 159-170.

Booth R. (2019) UK businesses using artificial intelligence to monitor staff activity Retrieved from on 8 April 2019.

Chamberlain JA. (2018) Undoing Work, Rethinking Community: A Critique of the Social Function of Work, Ithaca, US: Cornell University Press.

Connerton P. (1976) Critical Sociology. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

Ferraro F, Etzion D and Gehman J. (2015) Tackling Grand Challenges Pragmatically: Robust Action Revisited. Organization Studies 36: 363-390.

Fleming P. (2014) Review Article: When ‘life itself’ goes to work: Reviewing shifts in organizational life through the lens of biopower. Human Relations 67: 875-901.

Fromm E. (1941/2011) Escape from Freedom, New York: Ishi Press.

Gotsi M, Andriopoulos C, Lewis MW, et al. (2010) Managing creatives: Paradoxical approaches to identity regulation. Human Relations 63: 781-805.

Harari YN. (2018) Yuval Noah Harari: the myth of freedom. Guardian Retrieved from  , on 25 Sep 2018.

Helbing D, Frey BS, Gigerenzer G, et al. (2017) Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence? Scientific American.

Kant I. (1996) An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’. In: Schmidt J (ed) What Is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 58-64.

Lindebaum D. (2017) Emancipation through Emotion Regulation at Work, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Lindebaum D. and Courpasson D. (2019) Becoming the next Charlie Parker: rewriting the role of passions in bureaucracies with Whiplash. Academy of Management Review 44: 227–239.

Lindebaum D., Vesa M. & den Hond, F. (2019) Insights from ‘The Machine Stops’ to better understand rational assumptions in algorithmic decision-making and its implications for organizations. Academy of Management Review.

OXFAM. (2018) AN ECONOMY FOR THE 99%. Retrieved from  ,  accessed on 123 January 2018.

Parker M, Cheney G, Fournier V, et al. (2014) The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organization. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Redman T and Snape E. (2004) Kindling Activism? Union Commitment and Participation in the UK Fire Service. Human Relations 57: 845-869.

Wright L. (1973) Functions. Philosophical Review 82: 139-168.

Organizing in the Age of the Algorithm

EGOS 2020 (Hamburg) Sub-theme Outline

Mikko Vesa

Hanken School of Economics


Dirk Lindebaum

Cardiff Business School


Frank Den Hond

Hanken School of Economics & VU Amsterdam


Artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic decision-making have become central concerns when contemplating the future of organizing, organizations and society-at-large (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2018, Moore, 2018). Increasingly these impact domains as diverse as financial transactions, autonomous war machines, medical diagnosis, crime preventions, credits ratings and elderly care. Hence some argue that organizations and organizing are becoming more algorithmic (Andrews, 2018). But what exactly does it mean that organizations and organizing are becoming more algorithmic? Thinking further still, what is it that algorithms actually do, and how does the discourse of AI potentially affect organizations? Thus, we envision the track to be a forum that invites and develops debate around these questions.

What algorithms actually do is of interest to organization studies for several reasons. For instance, because “authority is increasingly expressed algorithmically” (Pasquale, 2015: 8), algorithms affect decision-making processes in organizations. The organization is a polis; a location where situations are debated, information is shared and decisions are made, albeit often not in a spirit of equality or democracy. However, the way algorithms make decisions is at variance with this. In fact, it may usher a new era of formal ‘hyper’ rationality (Lindebaum, Vesa and den Hond, 2019) that sees humans as an obstacle to efficient human societies. In addition, through the promise of greater efficiency, algorithms purport to facilitate the achievement of goals and strategies in unprecedented ways. Therefore, they are set to profoundly affect processes and outcomes within organizations and society. Yet, they pose fundamental questions about accountability, confidence, change, and control (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2018). Thus, a first point of inquiry relates to how AI and algorithms are being integrated into the everyday organizational practices and processes as decision-making tools that allow for ever-greater decision-making speed in relation to an ever-growing amount of data.

In terms of discourse, the sub-theme recognizes that ‘talked about’ phenomena (see e.g., Lindebaum et al. 2018) or technological artifacts can be mobilized and subverted in ways that can go potentially beyond the actual function of phenomena or capacity of the technology. We suggest that the ‘talk about’ algorithms can create self-fulfilling theories (i.e., theories that not only describe but shape reality, see Marti and Gond 2018). But itv does more; the talk about algorithms inherently disciplines power relations (when it amplifies its appeal) and resistance (when it disrupts its appeal) in organizations. Discourses of power (be they organizational, economic, political, or social in kind) can imply that the actual technological capabilities of AI are made subservient to the interests of those agents that promote them. We suspect that, in the future, AI has the potential to dethrone (e.g., ‘globalization’ or ‘deregulation’) as a disciplining discourse in the vocabulary of the power elite. As AI is inherently difficult to unbox and render transparent, the power discourses of AI exploit this characteristic to render it an elusive object that is super-moldable to the needs of those who desire to control power relations in organizations and beyond. In short, there is little change that cannot be legitimated by referring to the demands that AI technology has on us.

It is against the backdrop of these reflections that we encourage submissions that touch on this indicative rather than exhaustive list of questions:

  1. How do we need to conceive of ‘agency’ in an era of AI and algorithms, especially when they become ever more interconnected and networked? How can we better understand its decision-making; who puts these structures into place; and where do they start and stop? How, if at all, can we control and interfere in AI decision-making?
  2. How are products of AI, such as machine-learning based analytical reports, transformed into powerful assets for organizational decision-making, and with what consequences? How are products of AI being deployed to control, shape and contain access to information in domains ranging from customer profiling to state-implemented firewalls and state-sponsored oppression of ethnic minorities?
  3. How is AI being mobilized discursively to discipline and shape society’s relationship with its own future; what can we not do because of AI? Who wields such discourses, and what agendas are being woven into such discourses? What is the relationship between the discursive world of AI and the actual technological capabilities of AI?
  4. How does AI change organizational processes in relation to issues, such as work design, decision-making, organizational learning, organizational control, or organizational accountability? How to value such changes?

There is no restriction to any particular body of theory, school of thinking, or methodological preference. Instead, we are looking for an eclectic and thought-provoking body of contributions that seek to tackle the emerging phenomenon on and around AI.


Andrews L. (2018) Public administration, public leadership and the construction of public value in the age of the algorithm and ‘Big Data’. Public Administration

Moore, P. V. (2018). Artificial Intelligence: What Everyone Needs to Know. Organization Studies.

Kaplan, A., & Haenlein, M. (2018). Siri, Siri, in my hand: Who’s the fairest in the land? On the interpretations, illustrations, and implications of artificial intelligence. Business Horizons.

Lindebaum, D., Geddes, D., & Jordan, P. J. (Eds.). Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Lindebaum, D., Vesa, M., & den Hond, F. (2019) Insights from ‘The Machine Stops’ to better understand rational assumptions in algorithmic decision-making and its implications for organizations. Academy of Management Review.

Marti, E., & Gond, J.-P. (2018). When Do Theories Become Self-Fulfilling? Exploring the Boundary Conditions of Performativity. Academy of Management Review, 43(3), 487-508.

Pasquale, F. (2015). The Black Box Society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Convener Bios

Mikko Vesa (PhD Econ) is an Assistant Professor at Hanken School of Economics. His research focuses on gamification, strategy as practice, the late-modern ludic corporation and qualitative research methods with a focus on virtual ethnography. He has been convening sub-themes at EGOS twice; 2017 in Copenhagen and 2018 in Tallinn; with a broad focus on the intersections between organizations, games and play. His research has been published in Organization Studies, Journal of Business Ethics and Journal of Business Research. The dialogue section “Gamification – Concepts Consequences, and Critiques” that he co-edited is shortly forthcoming in the Journal of Management Inquiry.

Dirk Lindebaum is a Professor in Organisation & Management at Cardiff Business School. His main preoccupation revolves around the mechanisms and tools that affect how freedom is experienced and exercised amongst individuals within and around organisations. This focus informed recent works on emotional emancipation at work and the performative implications of technology at work, especially in terms of organisational neuroscience and algorithms. For further information, see www.dirklindebaum.EU.

Frank den Hond, PhD, is the Ehrnrooth Professor in Management and Organization at Hanken School of Economics (Finland) and past Editor of Organization Studies (2013-2017). He was subtheme convener at multiple EGOS Colloquia, and one of the main organizers of the 2008 EGOS Colloquium in Amsterdam. His research interests are at the intersection of business in society, institutional organization theory, and social movement studies, and he recently developed interests in partial organization and business ethics.

New book coming out in October 2018

Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work

Edited by Dirk Lindebaum, Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, UK, Deanna Geddes, Professor in HRM, Fox School of Business, Temple University, US and Peter J. Jordan, Professor of Organizational Behaviour, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Australia

Despite how much we know about emotion, Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work uniquely examines the utility of emotion in organizations against the ways in which both individuals and groups talk about them. Drawing on psychological and sociological research, this book provides groundbreaking insights for understanding how emotions are used in the workplace.

Bringing together contributions from leading emotion researchers, this book features chapters focusing on 10 emotions, ranging from awe to shame. Through its exploration of the ways each emotion functions in relation to how we talk about them, this book injects fresh theoretical and practical momentum into how our discussions of workplace emotion can affect how emotional events are appraised over time and place. This, in turn influences the causes, expressions, and consequences of emotions in the workplace.

With its novel approach, this book will be an invaluable tool for academics researching emotion, as well as postgraduate students working in the social sciences seeking reference material on emotion. HR managers and general readers seeking greater insight into emotions at work will also find this book to be a useful tool.

What others think about the book . . .

‘This is a very important book that helps to fill a serious gap in the OB/Organizational Psychology literature on emotions. The editors have assembled a stellar collection of contributors and each and every chapter is worth studying. As a whole, the volume points to the social functions of discrete emotions and the way those emotions are communicated in work settings. Beyond that, the theme of the collection reminds us that the appropriate unit of analysis for human behavior is always people actively engaging with the world, including the social world.’
– Howard M. Weiss, Georgia Institute of Psychology, US

‘Do emotions exist without words? Animals clearly feel and communicate emotions. But people, with their ability to speak, are much more eloquent in their emotions. People really “do” emotions, in large part, by talking about them. Work on emotional labor, in the 1980’s brought awareness of emotions as integral to organizational roles. This new set of essays, collected and edited by Dirk Lindebaum, Deanna Geddes and Peter Jordan, pushes forward the understanding that talking about emotion at work is integral to the social influence of emotion. Talking is integral to attributions and emotion regulation strategies of receivers (targets and observers) of anger expressions in the workplace. The discussed illegitimacy of talking about certain feelings – boredom, envy, fear, pride – means these feelings remain repressed and misreported. The essays are provocative, presenting functional and dysfunctional aspects to the norms of talking (or not talking) about emotional experiences. The book is stimulating in the discussion of emotions that are less obvious to organizational research, such as awe, boredom, and fear. And it provides new insights on more commonly discussed emotions, with a historical perspective on happiness and a functional analysis of sadness. Warmly recommended reading, as stimulation for new research, and as a window into one’s own emotional discourse, and its social implications.’
– Anat Rafaeli, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Israel

‘Emotions are a powerful force in social and organizational life, not just through their effects on the self but also through their effects on others. Building on the fast-growing literature on the social effects of emotions, this book draws attention to the under-explored question of how the (dys)functionality of emotions in the workplace is shaped by how people think and talk about emotions. The diverse contributions collected in this volume illustrate the important notion that organizational norms and discourses profoundly influence the interpretation of emotion-eliciting events, emotional experience, emotion regulation, and the interpersonal dynamics of emotions at work. This original and intellectually stimulating book underlines the inherently social constitution of emotion and opens up important new avenues of research.’
– Gerben van Kleef, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

EGOS 2019 Sub-theme



Dirk Lindebaum

Cardiff Business School (UK)



Lynne Andersson

Fox School of Business, Temple University (USA)


Frank den Hond

Hanken School of Economics (Finland) &

VU Amsterdam (the Netherlands)


For Kant, Enlightenment refers to “man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity”, immaturity being defined as “the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another” (Kant, 1996: 58, italics added for emphasis). The emphasis in the preceding quote serves to problematize what the proposed sub-theme seeks to examine, namely, the relationship between an enlightened existence and freedom in the context of work in the 21st century. In other words, can there be freedom if individuals or groups cannot develop that understanding to ‘see through’ power relations (Connerton, 1976) without the guidance of others? To extend the question further, can there be freedom if others actively inhibit individuals or groups from developing their own understanding, or if individuals or groups are too afraid to develop it, when they ‘fear’ freedom (Fromm, 1941/2011)? An attempt to answer the question imposes the need to engage more closely with what freedom is, who defines it, and what the consequences of this are for those who define it, and for those who have their freedom defined by others.

For the proposed subtheme, we draw on the work of Isaiah Berlin (1969/1999) and his dual concepts of negative and positive freedom. Negative freedom, “the freedom which consists in not being prevented from choosing as I do by other men” (p. 23), implies the absence of obstacles or constraints, and involves a concern about how individuals suffer through state (or organisational) interference. Thus, it focuses on external factors that affect the autonomy of individuals and groups. Positive freedom, “the freedom which consists in being one’s own master” (p. 23), in turn, relates to the possibility of acting; taking control of one’s life and realising one’s goals and purposes. Although Berlin valued negative freedom more than positive freedom, these two concepts are not merely distinct for him; they are antithetical and represent incompatible interpretation of one single political ideal.

The dualism implied in Berlin’s works has several implications for organisational theory and practise. The dualistic assertion that it is either one or the other, while theoretically/ideologically neat, may be practically problematic. The reason for this is rooted in the fact that positive freedom is sometimes needed to challenge and break up immoral social orders that are sustained by self-interests of individual or groups at the expense of universal moral standards that serves the interest of society at large (see e.g., Henry Fonda in 12 Angry Men, Lindebaum and Gabriel, 2016). By contrast, limits to negative freedom are needed to curb excessive individual self-determination, especially in economic terms (Fleming, 2017), that may lead to collapse of the moral fabric of society, and by implication, any conception of the greater good that helps sustain society and organisations. What these observations afford is a push from the ideological and dualistic trenches on the topic of freedom, toward a recognition of the function (Wright, 1973) that each kind of freedom, in best dialect tradition, can exercise to both sustain and challenge organisation.

Berlin’s (1969/1999) work on freedom must be considered in light of an overarching ideological system governing contemporary work and organisation, namely, neoliberal capitalism. At its core, neoliberalism is a way of understanding the world that espouses positive freedom; a freedom, nonetheless, that manifests itself most distinctly in terms of (illusion of) consumption choices and the liberation of money and entrepreneurship from social contexts and obligations (Harvey, 2005). Despite its surface promise of individual freedom, neoliberalism in practice has fundamentally restricted human behavior and emotion and commodified social relations (Lindebaum, 2017). Thus, the free market ideology of neoliberalism does not appear to make workers free, in any sense. Instead, corporations have been described as a ‘private government’, tyrannizing workers into submission, especially those who are lower-skilled and easily replaced (Anderson, 2017). Workers’ employment relationships today are characterized by disempowerment, fear, and insecurity (Fleming, 2017). Even those fortunate enough to possess autonomy instead internalize the language, beliefs and values of employers and elites. That is, they willingly secure the clasp of the ‘invisible handcuffs’ (Perelman, 2011) and sacrifice themselves to the requisite discipline of the market.

It is against this background, and irrespective of theoretical or methodological traditions, that we invite submissions that address a range of indicative but not exhaustive questions:

  1. How is freedom defined for and by workers in the 21st century? How have Enlightenment values contributed to contemporary conceptions of worker freedom?
  2. How do Berlin’s concepts of positive and negative freedom play out in the contemporary workplace? What are the functions of each of these types of freedom for organisations and workers?
  3. What are some of the specific impediments to worker freedom in the 21st century (e.g., electronic surveillance, on-demand scheduling, wage theft, anti-unionization tactics, gig work, employment-at-will, non-compete agreements, etc.), and how does management utilize these tactics to suppress or worker freedom? What are the consequences of these tactics on workers and corporations (e.g., worker health and dignity)?
  4. What are some of the newer or more novel ways that employers are restricting employee freedom?
  5. How and why do workers internalize neoliberal values that suppress their freedom?
  6. Are there varying degrees of employee freedom, from modern slavery (Crane, 2013) to the precarious work arrangements of the ‘precariat class’ (Standing, 2011)?
  7. Can workers resist or escape from the neoliberal mindset (Fleming, 2014) and become more “free”?
  8. What is the relationship between how freedom is defined, and for what purpose we find ourselves arranged in the pursuit of the goals, common or otherwise (Holt and den Hond, 2013)?


Anderson E. (2017) Private Government How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It), Princeton , NJ: Princeton University Press.

Berlin I. (1969/1999) Two Concepts of Liberty. In: Warburton N (ed) Philosophy” Basic Readings London: Routledge, 159-170.

Connerton P. (1976) Critical Sociology. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

Fleming P. (2017) The Human Capital Hoax: Work, Debt and Insecurity in the Era of Uberization. Organization Studies 38: 691-709.

Fromm E. (1941/2011) Escape from Freedom, New York: Ishi Press.

Harvey D. (2005) A Brief History of Neoliberalism, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Holt R and den Hond F. (2013) Sapere Aude. Organization Studies 34: 1587-1600.

Kant I. (1996) An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’. In: Schmidt J (ed) What Is Enlightenment? Eighteenth-Century Answers and Twentieth-Century Questions. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 58-64.

Lindebaum D. (2017) Emancipation through Emotion Regulation at Work, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

Lindebaum D and Gabriel Y. (2016) Anger and Organization Studies – From Social Disorder to Moral Order. Organization Studies 37: 903-918.

Perelman M. (2011) The invisible handcuffs of capitalism: How market tyranny stifles the economy by stunting workers, New York: Monthly Review Press.

Wright L. (1973) Functions. Philosophical Review 82: 139-168.


Dirk Lindebaum is a Professor in Organisation & Management at Cardiff Business School. His main preoccupation revolves around the mechanisms and tools that affect how freedom is experienced and exercised amongst individuals within and around organisations. This focus informed recent works on emotional emancipation at work and the performative implications of technology at work, especially in terms of organisational neuroscience. For further information, see www.dirklindebaum.EU.


Lynne Andersson received her PhD in organizational behavior/ social issues in management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the dark side of business organizations. In particular, she has been examining some social maladies that are arguably associated with late capitalism (e.g., corruption, cynicism, incivility, and detrimental philanthrocapitalism) as well as the role of social activism in countering capitalist barriers to sustainability.


Frank den Hond, PhD, is the Ehrnrooth Professor in Management and Organization at Hanken School of Economics (Finland) and past Editor of Organization Studies (2013-2017). His research interests are at the intersection of business in society, institutional organization theory, and social movement studies, and he recently developed interests in partial organization and business ethics.

NEW BOOK FORTHCOMING SPRING 2017 (published by Edward Elgar)


by  Dirk Lindebaum


This book advocates the emancipation of emotion by enabling workers to regulate their emotions differently given emotional repression at work. Drawing on Critical Theory and Emotion Regulation, this book articulates two pathways to social control currently underexplored in management; one where the social functions of emotion are exploited, and one where the talk about emotion overrides its social function. While conducive to organizational control, workers may face adverse consequences as result of these pathways. The author illustrates the processes through which workers can start ‘seeing through’ the repression, and enlist specific emotion regulation strategies to emancipate themselves from it. Workers may use these strategies to buffer the adverse consequences of emotional repression in the short to medium-term. Yet, this book proposes that workers eventually may decide to change jobs in an attempt to remove themselves from the repression. If turnover frequency becomes unsustainable for organizations, it can potentially change the social structures that Critical Theory and its aim to emancipate is concerned with.

NOTE: I am grateful to Guy Farrow for his skill and creativity in producing the book cover.  If anyone is interested in enlisting his work as illustrator, please do get in touch with him (

NEW ARTICLES forthcoming on Moral Anger.....

Together with Deanna Geddes from Temple University, we wrote an article in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, which conceptually defines and delineates “moral anger” from related but distinct constructs (e.g., righteous anger or indignation). The article is available as Open Access on the  journal’s website.

Having defined “moral anger”, together with Yiannis Gabriel from Bath University, we wrote an ‘essay’ in Organization Studies, where we apply moral anger to the notion of disturbing (morally questionable) social orders. Once questionable social order (e.g., an ‘immoral’ and false consensus)  is disrupted as a result of individuals acting on their moral anger, space is created for a re-emergence of a moral order upon which a re-negotiated social order can grow too. We use the jury drama 12 Angry Men to illustrate this point. In due course, the essay (as part of the new X and Organization Studies series) will appear as open-access on the journal’s website. For more details and the abstract, please follow the “publication” link in the main menu.

NEWS coverage……..

Both articles have been featured in recent issues of the Financial Times (see left), Daily Mail, and the Independent (see picture left and “News” section for more details).

Special Issue among top-downloaded papers of all times in Human Relations

Published only in September 2014, this special issue (co-edited with Peter Jordan from Griffith University) has been consistently ranked among the top-20 most-read articles in Human Relations of all times (i.e., 1947 – 2015). In fact, ALL articles of the special issue are in the top-100 of all-times most read articles in Human Relations. Below you can find the references:

Chi N-W and Ho T-R. (2014) Understanding when leader negative emotional expression enhances follower performance: The moderating roles of follower personality traits and perceived leader power. Human Relations 67: 1051-1072.

Hadley CN. (2014) Emotional roulette? Symmetrical and asymmetrical emotion regulation outcomes from coworker interactions about positive and negative work events. Human Relations 67: 1073-1094.

Lindebaum D and Jordan JP. (2014) When it can be good to feel bad and bad to feel good: Exploring asymmetries in workplace emotional outcomes. Human Relations 67: 1037-1050.

McMurray R and Ward J. (2014) ‘Why would you want to do that?’: Defining emotional dirty work. Human Relations 67: 1123-1143.

Mitchell R, Boyle B, Parker V, et al. (2014) Transformation through tension: The moderating impact of negative affect on transformational leadership in teams. Human Relations 67: 1095-1121.

Van Kleef GA. (2014) Understanding the Positive and Negative Effects of Emotional Expressions in Organizations: EASI Does It. Human Relations 67: 1145-1164.

Sub-theme accepted at the

33rd EGOS Colloquium, Copenhagen 2017

July 6–8

Copenhagen Business School (CBS)




Dirk Lindebaum

Cardiff Busienss School

Yiannis Gabriel

School of Management

University of Bath

Deanna Geddes

Fox School of Business

Temple U.


The notion of the ‘good’ organization raises fundamental questions to theorists of organizational emotion. Is the ‘good organization’ and its corollary, the ‘bad organization’, an ideal type, an archetype or a fantasy? How is it constructed and what emotional processes underlie and/or support it? What, if any, means are enlisted to fulfil its realization? What outcomes does it generate?

These questions can be addressed from a multiplicity of angles. The proposed sub-theme provides a platform for scholars of organisational emotion to explore how emotion in general and specific emotions in particular (pride, love, loyalty, fear, anger, hate, envy and so forth) sustain, upend, challenge or help resurrect the idea of the ‘good organisation’. We are also interested in this connection with the role of different classes of emotion, such as moral emotions (e.g., guilt, shame or anger) or defensive emotions (e.g., pride, anxiety or disgust). What gives this subtheme its uniqueness is a keen focus on emotion in general and specific emotions in particular.

We conceive of the ‘good organisation’ holistically, but papers submitted to the sub-theme may approach the concept and the emotional scaffolding that sustains it differently. Both objectivist and subjectivist approaches are welcome. The former may place the good organization at the heart of legitimate, ethical, social, environmental, and economic concerns. A good organization is one that treats its employees, its customers, the environment and other stakeholders with consideration and respect. Economic success is balanced against environmental, social and other considerations. When these are properly integrated, the good organisation may claim to represent and further the ‘greater good’. Seen in this light, the topicality of the theme is underscored by the ongoing Volkswagen scandal in both the US and Europe.

At the same time, we also welcome perspectives and conceptualisations (e.g., social constructionist, psychodynamic, etc.), according to which any number of attributes, emotional, symbolic, instrumental and other may be attached to the good organization and its obverse, the bad organization. Instead of looking at the good organization as a realistic project or a desideratum, such approaches treat it as a fantasy or as a symbolic construct that takes the place of something else, for example, an idealized family or group. It may then be legitimately asked by contributors whether the ‘good’ organization potentially stands as a dysfunctional fantasy that actually obstructs the emergence of a ‘good enough organization’, by analogy to D W Winnicott’s (1964) idea of the ‘good enough mother’.

Accordingly, we invite contributions that, among other things, may focus upon the following:


  1. How is the ‘good’ organization and its opposite, the ‘bad’ organization, constituted and what emotions sustain or challenge this designation?
  2. What is the relation between emotions that are generally viewed as good or healthy and a variety of outcomes consistent with the ‘good’ organization? Is it possible for good and healthy emotions to support ‘bad’ organizations (and vice versa)?
  3. How do organizational members experience their organizations as being good or bad? How does emotion account for these experiences?
  4. What role does a too sharp distinction between the ‘emotion’ (and the function it can serve) and the ‘talk about’ the emotion play in sustaining or challenging the ‘good’ organisation? (Lindebaum and Gabriel, 2015; Lindebaum and Geddes, 2015)
  5. How do leaders conceptualise the good organization and under what circumstances are they willing to deploy unethical means in the belief of reaching towards this ideal?
  6. How does branding, internal and external, contribute to the creation of idealized and glamourized images of organization? How do these images influence the construction of the ‘good’ organization? Do they support or inhibit the realization of the ‘good’ organization?
  7. What is the role of specific emotions (including pride, love, loyalty, anxiety, fear, anger, envy, hope, contempt and so forth) in supporting particular imageries of the good organization and contributing towards or inhibiting its realization?
  8. What stories, narratives and counter-narratives cast organizations as good or bad and what are their emotional content and ramifications (Gabriel, 2000)?
  9. What is the role of resistance or misbehaviour in response to concepts of the good organization and what are the emotional resources that fuel it (Ackroyd and Thompson, 1999)?


Yiannis Gabriel is Professor of Organizational Theory and Deputy Dean of the School of Management, University of Bath, UK and Visiting Professor at the University of Lund, Sweden. He is well known for his work on organizational storytelling and narratives, psychoanalytic studies, leadership, management learning, the culture and politics of contemporary consumption, and the study of genocide from an organizational perspective. He is a member of the EGOS Board and has convened eight EGOS sub-themes in earlier colloquia.

Dirk Lindebaum is a Professor in Organisation & Management at Cardiff Business School. One stream of his research activities pertains to organizational phenomena that involve emotional processes broadly defined. Another stream that he has pursued of late concerns the increasing visibility of neuroscientific theories and methods in the study of organizational behaviour. He has earlier experience in convening EGOS sub-themes. Further details on publications, media engagement, online talks and other issues can be obtained from his website:

 Deanna Geddes is Associate Professor and Chair of the Human Resource Management Department at Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management, USA. She has also served as Chair the Conflict Management Division of the Academy of Management. Her research interests include workplace anger and aggression, organizational emotions, and issues associated with providing effective performance feedback. She has earlier experience in convening EGOS sub-themes.



Ackroyd S and Thompson P (1999) Organizational misbehaviour, London: Sage.

Gabriel Y (2000) Storytelling in Organizations: Facts, Fictions, and Fantasies: Facts, Fictions, and Fantasies, Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Lindebaum D and Gabriel Y (2016) Anger and Organization Studies – From social disorder to moral order. Organization Studies.

Lindebaum D and Geddes D (2015) The place and role of (moral) anger in organizational behavior studies. Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Winnicott, D W (1964). The child, the family and the outside world. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

MORAL EMOTIONS AND ETHICS IN ORGANISATIONS - new special issue in the Journal of Business Ethics

Guest-edited by
Dirk Lindebaum (Cardiff U.)
Deanna Geddes (Temple U.)
Yiannis Gabriel (U. of Bath)

This special issue, collectively available on the ‘online first’ section on the journal’s website, features a diverse range of contributions in terms of philosophical approaches, topics, methods, and geographical location. In combination, these articles enhance our understanding of how moral emotions (or their absence) impact upon ethical (or unethical) behaviour in organisations.


Moral Emotions and Ethics in Organisations: Introduction to the Special Issue (OPEN ACCESS)
Dirk Lindebaum
Deanna Geddes
Yiannis Gabriel


The aim of our special issue is to deepen our understanding of the role moral emotions play in organisations as part of a wider discourse on organisational ethics and morality. Unethical workplace behaviours can have far-reaching consequences—job losses, risks to life and health, psychological damage to individuals and groups, social injustice and exploitation and even environmental devastation. Consequently, determining how and why ethical transgressions occur with surprising regularity, despite the inhibiting influence of moral emotions, has considerable theoretical and practical significance to management scholars and managers alike. In this introduction, we present some of the core arguments in the field; notably, the effect of organisational life and bureaucracy on emotions, in general, and moral emotions, in particular; the moral standing of leaders, managers and followers; moral challenges raised by obedience and resistance to organisational power and ethical blindspots induced by what may appear as deeply moral emotions. These issues are explored by a collection of geographically diverse articles in various work contexts, which are thematically organised in terms of (i) moral emotions, ethical behaviour and social pressure, (ii) moral emotions and their consequences within/across levels of analysis, (iii) psychoanalytic perspectives on the management of moral emotions, (iv) virtue and moral emotions and (v) moral emotions and action tendencies. We end by suggesting certain avenues for future research in the hope that the endeavour initiated here will inspire improved practice at work.


Schadenfreude: The (not so) Secret Joy of Another’s Misfortune
Marie Dasborough
Paul Harvey

Despite growing interest in emotions, organizational scholars have largely ignored the moral emotion of schadenfreude, which refers to pleasure felt in response to another’s misfortune. As a socially undesirable emotion, it might be assumed that individuals would be hesitant to share their schadenfreude. In two experimental studies involving emotional responses  to unethical behaviors, we find evidence to the contrary. Study 1 revealed that subjects experiencing schadenfreude were willing to share their feelings, especially if the misfortune was perceived to be deserved (i.e., resulting from unethical behaviors). Study 2 extends this work by incorporating schadenfreude targets of different status (CEO versus employee). Consistent with the “tall poppy syndrome,” subjects were more willing to share schadenfreude concerning high status targets than low status targets when the perceived severity of the target’s misconduct was low. This status effect disappeared at higher levels of perceived deservingness, however. Reported willingness to share schadenfreude was strongest at these levels but did not differ significantly between high and low status targets. These findings build on the social functional account of emotions, suggesting that sharing schadenfreude may signal normative cues to others regarding workplace behaviors that are deemed to be unethical.


The Exposed Self: A Multilevel Model of Shame and Ethical Behavior
Steven A. Murphy
Sandra Kiffin-Petersen

In this article, we review the shame and ethical behavior literature in order to more fully develop theory and testable propositions for organizational scholars focusing on the behavioral implications of this ‘moral’ emotion. We propose a dual pathway multilevel model that incorporates complex relationships between felt and anticipatory shame processes and ethical behavior, both within and between persons and at the collective level. We propose a holistic treatment of shame that includes dispositional and organizational (contextual) influences on the cognitive and emotional forces that shape ethical behavior in organizations. The implications of our review of shame for ethical behavior, organizations, and concrete  research action are discussed.

Nobody is as Blind as Those Who Cannot Bear to See: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on the Management of Emotions and Moral Blindness
J. J. de Klerk

Although apparently irrational, people with seemingly high moral standards routinely make immoral decisions or engage in morally questionable behavior. It appears as if under certain circumstances, people become in some enigmatic way blind to the immoral aspects of what they are doing or consequences of their immoral actions. This article focuses and reports on a psychoanalytic inquiry into the role of emotions and the unconscious management of unwanted emotions in promoting moral blindness. Emotions are essential to the conscience, self-sanctioning, and advancement of moral behavior. Notwithstanding moral ideations, a sufficiently strong counterwill may create incongruence between moral intentions and actual desires or behavior. The unwelcome experience of acute moral emotions such as guilt and anxiety is likely to activate a range of psychological defense mechanisms and unconscious processes to manage these emotions. It is argued that the management of these emotions through undue avoidance, inappropriate regulation, or lack of regulation, can bypass self-sanctioning. As result, the condition of moral blindness can develop or be sustained. The psychoanalytic explanations offered contribute to the understanding as to how emotions in combination with the unconscious mind can cause moral blindness in any person, notwithstanding high moral standards and good intentions. Improved understanding of moral blindness represents an important scientific step in improved understanding of our moral and immoral selves, with all its complexities, conflicts, and contradictions.

From Tell-Tale Signs to Irreconcilable Struggles: The Value of Emotion in Exploring the Ethical Dilemmas of Human Resource Professionals
Carol Linehan
Elaine O’Brien

This paper explores the character of emotion (felt and displayed) and its value in understanding ethical dilemmas in work organisations. Specifically, we examine the emotional labour of human resource professionals (HRPs). Through in-depth interviews and diary study, we uncover the emotional and ethical struggles of HRPs as they search for the ‘right thing to do’ in situated interaction. Through the lens of emotion, we chart the process of how the very framing of what is deemed ‘right’ can move from the social to the moral order (Bauman, Postmodern ethics, 1993) and vice versa. Based on our findings, we contribute to understanding the linkages between emotional and ethical dilemmas, and how expectations of multiple ‘others’ at the individual, interpersonal and organisational level shape and constrain ethical choices.

Justifying Deviant Behavior: The Role of Attributions and Moral Emotions
Paul Harvey
Mark J. Martinko
Nancy Borkowski

We present two studies investigating the impact of causal perceptions and the moral emotions of anger, shame, and guilt on the justification of deviant workplace behavior. Study 1 tests our conceptual framework using a sample of undergraduate business students; Study 2 examines a population of practicing physicians. Results varied significantly between the two samples, suggesting that individual and contextual factors play an important role in shaping the perceptual and emotional processes by which individuals form reactions to undesirable affective workplace events. Implications of these findings for the study of ethics, emotions, and attributions, as well as for promoting ethical behavior, are discussed.

Organizational Wrongs, Moral Anger and the Temporality of Crisis
Srinath Jagannathan
Rajnish Rai

By engaging with multiple narratives of a police killing involving questionable legal procedures, known as a police encounter in India, we attempt to narrate stories of what happens to those who resist organizational wrongdoing by displaying moral anger against unethical actions. The State enables police encounters to occur by arguing that exceptional and alternate methods are required to engage with the crisis of terror and crime that the nation faces. Thus, police encounters are executed in the name of the collective morality of the greater common good. Those who resist police encounters argue from the standpoint of a democratic morality by suggesting that the very efficacy of democratic institutions will be eroded if encounters are normalized. We explore questions of organizational ethics from a temporal perspective while navigating between contending moral positions regarding police encounters.

Exploring the Diversity of Virtues Through the Lens of Moral Imagination: A Qualitative Inquiry into Organizational Virtues in the Turkish Context

Fahri Karakas,
Emine Sarigollu,
Selcuk Uygur

The purpose of this article is to introduce a multidimensional framework based on the concept of moral imagination for analysing and capturing diverse virtues in contemporary Turkish organizations. Based on qualitative interviews with 58 managers in Turkey, this article develops an inventory of Turkish organizational virtues each of which can be associated with a different form of virtuous organizing. The inventory consists of nine forms of moral imagination, which map the multitude of virtues and moral emotions in organizations. Nine emergent forms of moral imagination are based on: integrity, affection, diligence, inspiration, wisdom, trust, gratefulness, justice, and harmony. The findings have made a contribution to the expanding literature on how Islamic organizations develop their business ethics through a repertoire of virtues. An empirical account of the range of virtues in organizational contexts that have emerged as a result of the hybridization of Islamic virtue/aesthetics and neoliberal capitalism in contemporary Turkey is provided. A theoretical contribution is made to business ethics literature through a phenomenology of virtues that provides unique insights on diverse forms of moral imagination in contemporary Turkey where Islam and neoliberal capitalism dynamically co-exist.


Moral Emotions and Corporate Psychopathy: A Review
Benjamin R. Walker
Chris J. Jackson

While psychopathy research has been growing for decades, a relatively new area of research is corporate psychopathy. Corporate psychopaths are simply psychopaths working in organizational settings. They may be attracted to the financial, power, and status gains available in senior positions and can cause considerable damage within these roles from a manipulative interpersonal style to large-scale fraud. Based upon prior studies, we analyze psychopathy research pertaining to 23 moral emotions classified according to functional quality (positive vs. negative signal) and target (self vs. other). Based upon our review, we suggest that psychopaths are high in moral emotions associated with other-directed negative signals, low in self-directed negative signals, and low in other-directed positive signals. We found no empirical articles related to self-directed positive signals. This understanding of the specific moral emotion deficits of corporate psychopaths provides greater theoretical understanding and practical implications of knowing which individuals not to promote, though more research is needed on moral emotions that are faked for manipulative reasons.


The Online Unmanaged Organization: Control and Resistance in a Space with Blurred Boundaries
Adriana Wilner
Tania Pereira Christopoulos
Mario Aquino Alves

The unmanaged organization (Gabriel in Organ Stud 16:477–501, 1995) is moving from coffee corners to social networks. This means not only a change of media, but also a transformation in how organizations exert control over workers and how workers resist the commodification of emotions (Fineman, in: Fineman, Emotion in organizations, Sage, London, 2000; Lindebaum in J Manag Inq 21:262–277, 2012). After analyzing instances of the online publication of images and texts that escape organizational control, we identified three main ambiguities helpful in framing future studies about organizational control and resistance: ambiguity between private and public spheres, ambiguity between spontaneous and performed manifestations, and ambiguity between the distribution and control of power. Our main contribution is to understanding the Internet, particularly social networks, as a medium for employee resistance through distance (Collinson, in: Jermier et al., Resistance and power in organizations, Routledge, London, 1994), and in using the three aforementioned ambiguities to help analyze this phenomenon.