Emotions in diverse teams: an affective events perspective

Finn, Carmel Patricia. (2003). Emotions in diverse teams: an affective events perspective PhD Thesis, School of Business, The University of Queensland.

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Author Finn, Carmel Patricia.
Thesis Title Emotions in diverse teams: an affective events perspective
School, Centre or Institute School of Business
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2003
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Dr R. Chattopadhyay
Professor N. Ashkanasy
Total pages 281
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subjects L
380108 Industrial and Organisational Psychology
720403 Management
Formatted abstract
In this thesis, I develop an integrative model based on Social Identity Theory (SIT) and Affective Events Theory (AET) linking events that surface because of demographic dissimilarity and/or moderated demographic dissimilarity to negative emotions. Events are defined as important happenings that occur at work because of dissimilarity whilst team members perform a specific task. Dissimilarity refers to the degree an individual in the diverse team is different to others in the team in terms of salient demographic characteristics.

I focus on two forms of demographic dissimilarity in the model: occupation and sex. Status, sex, tokenism, and increased team longevity influence relationships between demographic dissimilarity and the events. In the model, the events that stem from occupational dissimilarity and/or moderated occupational dissimilarity are: (1) working in a team that one does not identify with, and (2) decreased personal autonomy. The events stemming from sex dissimilarity and/or moderated sex dissimilarity are: (1) working in a team that one does not identify with, and (2) negative evaluation. Events that inhibit personal goals lead to negative emotions, which in turn contribute negatively to job satisfaction.

In researching the model, I employed an approach based on scientific realism, where both qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to achieve convergent validation. Study I was an exploratory qualitative study. Focus group discussions and individual interviews were used to evaluate and refine the theoretical model. Study II was a quantitative study to examine relationships in the model derived from Study I. Several individual demographic variables as well as task interdependence and negative affectivity (NA) served as control variables in the model. However, since recent literature on affect suggests that NA may mask work events, I decided to carry out analyses with and without NA as a control variable in the model. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to establish reliable and valid constructs. Hierarchical multiple regressions were used to test hypotheses. Study III was a qualitative follow-up study. Quotes from this study illustrated findings from Study II and provided explanations for unexpected findings.

Relevance of surgical teams as an example of a diverse team was established in Study I. Even though the proportion of occupations in surgical teams was fairly stable, there was variance in status, male and female tokens were part of surgical teams, and there was a range of team longevity. Data from Study I pointed to consensus about most relationships in the model, with the exception of the affective event based on decreased personal autonomy. Even though there was control and domination, it is the way team members were spoken to that troubled them the most, which seemed to fit with the notion of interactional injustice. Therefore, I replaced decreased personal autonomy in the model with interactional injustice.

In Study II, NA seemed to vary in the results, such that the variable functioned like state affect instead of trait affect. Consequently its presence in the analyses confounded relationships in the model and therefore regression analyses were conducted without NA as a control variable. There were no main effects and few moderation effects. The only hypotheses significant in the model involved moderated occupational dissimilarity, with those involving team longevity in the opposite direction to that predicted.

Of the three affective events tested for mediation in the model, only two: (1) working in a team with low identification with the team, and (2) negative evaluation mediated relationships between moderated occupational dissimilarity and negative emotions. Interactional injustice did not act as a mediator of the occupational dissimilarity or moderated occupational dissimilarity and negative emotions relationships.

Results showed that as occupational dissimilarity increased in surgical teams, when there was high team longevity, there was a decrease in social identification with the team, which was associated with disgust and disappointment. Male nurses and female medical practitioners experienced embarrassment and unhappiness because of negative evaluation, as their occupational dissimilarity increased in surgical teams. In addition to embarrassment and unhappiness, male nurses with greater occupational dissimilarity experienced depression. Hence, increased team longevity was not beneficial in weakening the negative effects of dissimilarity, thus demonstrating the potency of dissimilarity at work.

Study III provided quotes to illustrate findings in Study II. A major dilemma that I encountered in Study III was that occupational dissimilarity may have been confounded with another variable, "staff shortages" as a predictor of interactional injustice. Therefore, I removed this relationship from the model. Disappointment was associated with not identifying with the team, while disgust was associated with distancing oneself from the team. Male and female nurses remained divided about the result that male nurses with greater occupational dissimilarity in surgical teams are evaluated negatively. A possible explanation is that male nurses, because their higher position in the sex hierarchy, expect to be treated better than female nurses.

Overall, findings from this research have demonstrated that specific work events, which developed from moderated occupational dissimilarity are linked to Specific negative emotions. These include disappointment, disgust, embarrassment, unhappiness, and depression. Highlighted in the present research was the effect of NA as a control variable in the model. Results demonstrated that NA should not be controlled for, as it masked important effects. To my knowledge, this research is the first to apply AET to a multidisciplinary team context. Also, I have demonstrated that AET and SIT are complementary theories in explaining the effect of dissimilarity on emotions. From a practical point of view, my research has contributed to a better understanding in designing multidisciplinary work teams.

Keyword Work -- Psychological aspects
Emotions -- Social aspects

Document type: Thesis
Collection: UQ Theses (RHD) - UQ staff and students only
Citation counts: Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Fri, 24 Aug 2007, 18:07:03 EST