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The dynamics of positive emotions during an organizational change process : an exploratory study

Tijhuis, M.E. (2015) The dynamics of positive emotions during an organizational change process : an exploratory study.

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Abstract:Aim: The aim of the present study is to better understand the contribution of positive emotions to successful change processes in organizations. Theoretical background: The recent attention to positive effects of organizational change has shown a broad range of outcomes, including organizational success and employee wellbeing. We explore the influence of positive emotions, since positive emotions help broaden the perspective of professionals and build necessary resources for success. Experiencing positive emotions can, through the process of positivity resonance, create an upward spiral, because inspiring social interactions can facilitate flourishing relationships, which in turn enables new positive interactions and development of the organization. Method: The positive emotions were examined by means of ten duo‐interviews with colleagues working in an organization that has recently switched to self‐directed teams. The participants were colleagues who are working in different teams within the same healthcare organization. The research consisted of two parts. First, the participants were asked to describe the positive emotions they experienced during the development towards self‐ directed teams. Second, the interactions during the interviews were studied on vocal, facial and physical cues to analyse the process of positivity resonance on all positive emotions. Results: The respondents viewed the development to self‐directed teams mostly in a positive way. All of the most prominent positive emotions from the broaden‐and‐build theory were identified (e.g. inspiration, pride, interest and serenity). The development to self‐directed teams supports 1) team improvements, 2) confidence in their colleagues, 3) motivation of the development process and 4) the ease that is necessary for a good job performance. The results of the observation on the process of positivity resonance shows that the upward spiral is not only visible through the emotion love but is present through almost all other positive emotions. An addition to the three existing elements of positivity resonance is the element of physical proximity. This element is expressed through touch. Practical implications: Organizations can facilitate the development to self‐directed teams through paying attention to positive emotions, as they broaden awareness and build individual resources through which lasting changes are instigated. The development towards self‐directed teams should focus more on the available relational strengths. To ensure the long‐term effectiveness the possibilities to exchange interactions by means of positive emotions should be facilitated and encouraged. Future research: The study supports the effectiveness of positive emotions on the development to self‐directed teams. Future research is necessary to evaluate these effects on the long term. A quantitative study could provide additional results to support the findings. Furthermore positivity resonance needs to be evaluated in the contexts of job performance and relational behaviour between colleagues. The element of physical proximity should be evaluated and further researched. Additionally, the research findings should be compared with a control group as this research concentrated on a single case study.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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