Emotion in organisations : working in British pubs
Research into emotions in organisations has grown considerably in recent years, inspiring both academic and practitioner interest. This thesis reviews the growing literature on the subject, especially considering Hochschild's (1983) concept of emotional labour and the possible emotional demands and impacts of service work. Concepts such as emotional exhaustion, burnout and desensitisation are often referred to in the literature although relatively few researchers draw attention to any more positive effects. This project sought to widen the study of the emotional implications of service work to include the large, but under researched public house sector of Britain's hospitality industry. This thesis investigates the nature of emotion rules in public houses, how such rules are learnt and identifies a variety of both negative and positive emotional demands of pub work and how workers react to these. A single ethnographic study was undertaken within a large chain of public houses. A mixture of participant observation and in-depth interviews provided a rich variety of data resulting in a broad picture of the nature of the emotions within a number of individual public houses within the chain, with the fieldworker taking on the role of an employee in five such units. When discussing the emotional demands of their work, there was a common assertion among study participants that pubs were rather different to other types of hospitality outlet. This was seen as particularly relevant to the nature of emotion rules, which were influenced by a variety of stakeholders, including management, colleagues, customers and self. The idea that bar staff need to be and be seen to be genuine with customers was often stressed. Although all were able to recall some specific incidents when some surface and deep acting was called for, these were perceived to be exceptions rather than the norm. Some negative emotional aspects were raised by participants, especially relating to dealing with unpleasant customers or situations. More positive 'effects' of emotional labour were also alluded to, with bar staff claiming to enjoy much of their work dealing with customers They described pleasure from satisfying customers and even 'enjoying' dealing with less pleasant ones when they felt they could maintain an element of control over potentially damaging situations. The thesis takes a reflexive approach to the topic being investigated. This is felt to be particularly important given the participatory nature of ethnography and the generally tacit nature of emotions and the management of emotion. The researcher discusses influences, experiences, problems and successes from a personal perspective, helping readers to understand the personal research journey undertaken and come to their own conclusions regarding the value of this piece of work.