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The co-construction of moral emotions and employee treatment in the workplace

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ABSTRACT

This study examines the ways in which employees experience moral emotions that violate employee treatment and how employees co-construct moral emotions and subsequent expressions of dissent. This qualitative study

ABSTRACT

This study examines the ways in which employees experience moral emotions that violate employee treatment and how employees co-construct moral emotions and subsequent expressions of dissent. This qualitative study consisted of 123 full-time employees and utilized open-coding, content analysis, constant comparison analysis, and concept mapping. The analysis revealed that employees expressed dissent laterally as a series of sensemaking processes, such as validation of feelings, moral assessments, and assessing the fear of moral transgressions. Employees also expressed dissent as a series of risk assessments that overlapped with the ways in which employees made sense of the perceived infraction. Employees' lateral dissent expression manifested as a form of social support which occasionally led to co-rumination. Employees expressed dissent upwardly when seeking a desired action or change. Circumvention was utilized as a direct reflection to the type and degree of moral transgression related to the person responsible for the mistreatment. Results indicated that experiencing moral emotions that led to expressing dissent with a designated audience was determined by where employees were situated in the cyclical model of communicating moral emotions and in relation to the co-construction of both the infraction related to employee mistreatment and the experience of moral emotions. Results contribute to the existing body of literature on dissent and emotions. A discussion synthesizing the findings and analysis is presented, in addition to the implications for future research.

KEYWORDS: Emotion, Dissent, Moral Emotions, Sensemaking, Risk-Assessment, Social Support, Co-Rumination

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  • 2015