Title: The signal provision of emotion: using emotions to enhance reliability via sensemaking

Authors: Joseph A. Allen; Cliff W. Scott; Sarah J. Tracy; John D. Crowe

Addresses: Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68182, USA ' Department of Organisational Science, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 9201 University City Blvd, Charlotte, NC 28223, USA ' Department of Communication, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 871205, Tempe, AZ 85287-1205, USA ' Department of Psychology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, 6001 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68182, USA

Abstract: High reliability organisation (HRO) theory suggests that early detection of and swift responses to potentially hazardous and situation changing events in organisational environments is central to the sustainability of reliable operations. Limited research on HROs (e.g., military groups and firefighters) considers how normative demands on feeling and emotion help to explain why some events are recognised and responded to while others not. In this article, we propose a model of enactment of anomalous events (i.e., situation changing events) that considers the manner in which emotions are regulated in high reliability contexts and how this influences the extent to which early indicators of anomalous events are heeded or dismissed. In this article, we seek to provide a theoretical framework for explaining both the enabling mechanisms by which emotions may function as a signalling resource in the detection of anomalous events and the constraining mechanisms through when emotion regulation processes may inhibit reliability. We discuss implications of the model for researchers and practitioners in high reliability organisations.

Keywords: signal function; emotion regulation; sensemaking; structure; HROs; high reliability organisations; reliable operations; normative demands; feelings; emotions; anomalous events; situation changing events; early indicators; enabling mechanisms; signalling resources; constraining mechanisms; HRM; human resource management; human resources; human capital.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2014.065758

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2014 Vol.6 No.3, pp.240 - 260

Published online: 29 Nov 2014 *

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