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Feeling the Hardware: The Emotionality of Technology-Based Organizational Change
Unformatted Document Text:  Feeling the Hardware, p. 18 managers that she couldn’t be expected to perform well if CSIS was “rubbish.” Second, they served to manage power relations. While there is a clear hierarchy at CS, there is also an egalitarian ethos. Roxanne conveyed her right to speak up and not just accept what the managers wanted. Third, her complaints served a “signal function” (Hochschild, 1985; Waldron, 1994) to warn the managers that all was not right. Not only the technical problems, but also Roxanne’s emotional expressions of frustration and anger served as signals to Gary and Mary that Roxanne and perhaps other staff would not accept the new system without some additional refinements and support. The Emotional Labour of Change Agents Emotional labour is characterised by the performance of emotion—both suppression/control as well as expression of emotion--as a key component of an organisational role or as a means to achieve organisational goals. While most studies of emotional labour have focused on service jobs in which there are clear prescriptions for how the labour is to be performed, professionals such as doctors, lecturers, and change agents also manage their emotional displays in keeping with expectations for the role and with an eye toward achieving organisational goals (Miller, 2002). Gary, and to a lesser extent, Mary were change agents, attempting to drive the new ICT system forward. They almost uniformly expressed positive emotions in the training session, even though privately, both had their own complaints. They suppressed the expression of negative emotional displays to achieve their objective of making the system work and maintaining Roxanne’s motivation. Even in the face of a direct confrontation, Gary suppressed any negative feeling he might have had. Instead, he smiled and moved on non-defensively to the next task. Such emotional labour is central to the role of change agent. The success of a system such as CSIS depends on people accepting it and developing positive feelings about it.

Authors: Zorn, Ted.
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Feeling the Hardware, p. 18
managers that she couldn’t be expected to perform well if CSIS was “rubbish.” Second, they
served to manage power relations. While there is a clear hierarchy at CS, there is also an
egalitarian ethos. Roxanne conveyed her right to speak up and not just accept what the
managers wanted. Third, her complaints served a “signal function” (Hochschild, 1985;
Waldron, 1994) to warn the managers that all was not right. Not only the technical problems,
but also Roxanne’s emotional expressions of frustration and anger served as signals to Gary
and Mary that Roxanne and perhaps other staff would not accept the new system without
some additional refinements and support.
The Emotional Labour of Change Agents
Emotional labour is characterised by the performance of emotion—both
suppression/control as well as expression of emotion--as a key component of an
organisational role or as a means to achieve organisational goals. While most studies of
emotional labour have focused on service jobs in which there are clear prescriptions for how
the labour is to be performed, professionals such as doctors, lecturers, and change agents also
manage their emotional displays in keeping with expectations for the role and with an eye
toward achieving organisational goals (Miller, 2002). Gary, and to a lesser extent, Mary were
change agents, attempting to drive the new ICT system forward. They almost uniformly
expressed positive emotions in the training session, even though privately, both had their own
complaints. They suppressed the expression of negative emotional displays to achieve their
objective of making the system work and maintaining Roxanne’s motivation. Even in the face
of a direct confrontation, Gary suppressed any negative feeling he might have had. Instead, he
smiled and moved on non-defensively to the next task.
Such emotional labour is central to the role of change agent. The success of a system
such as CSIS depends on people accepting it and developing positive feelings about it.


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