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