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An Alternative to Bureaucratic Impersonality and Emotional Labor: Bounded Emotionality at The Body Shop

Joanne Martin, Kathleen Knopoff and Christine Beckman
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 43, No. 2, Special Issue: Critical Perspectives on Organizational Control (Jun., 1998), pp. 429-469
DOI: 10.2307/2393858
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393858
Page Count: 41
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An Alternative to Bureaucratic Impersonality and Emotional Labor: Bounded Emotionality at The Body Shop
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Abstract

Using qualitative data from a large, successful private sector corporation (The Body Shop International), which was managed and staffed by an unusually high proportion of women, this paper questions whether norms of impersonality need be a defining characteristic of large organizations. We also ask whether displays of emotions in organizations need to be managed primarily for instrumental purposes, a form of emotional labor that entails costs for employees. This paper explores the viability of an alternative emotion management approach, "bounded emotionality," which encourages the constrained expression of emotions at work in order to encourage community building and personal well-being in the workplace. We show how bounded emotionality was enacted and explore difficulties in its implementation, including pressures on employees who prefer impersonality and the dangers of a deeper and more intimate form of controlling employees. Results show that rapid firm growth, a limited labor market, and the pressures of a competitive marketplace serve as boundary conditions for the maintenance of bounded emotionality.

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