Responding to the Emotions of Others at Work: A Review and Integrative Theoretical Framework for the Effects of Emotion-Response Strategies on Work-Related Outcomes
When a person expresses an emotion at work, the way others respond can influence the work-related outcomes of the expresser, the responder, and their surrounding team and organization. Growing literature has generated insights into how, when, and why different emotion-response strategies influence work outcomes. However, this area of research is fragmented, with variance in labels, conceptualizations, and operationalizations, as well as a piecemeal treatment of context, leading to mixed findings. To provide coherence to this area of inquiry, we offer an integrative review of 220 articles, which form the basis for our inductive point of view. We develop a theoretical framework to show that the influence of emotion-response strategies on work outcomes depends on (a) the relative placement of the strategy within our two-dimensional landscape (characterized by the relative tendency of the strategy to get involved with and to change the expressed emotion) and (b) the specific nature of the context (including nexuses of contextual factors). Our framework yields several insights for future research, including the need to study discrete emotion-response strategies within a common theoretical landscape; to address “change bias,” as lower change-oriented strategies often positively affect outcomes yet remain understudied; and to provide more nuanced integrations of context.