Organizational affective tone

Knight, A. P., Menges, J. I., & Bruch. H. (2018). Organizational affective tone: A meso perspective on the origins and effects of consistent affect in organizations. Academy of Management Journal, 61, 191-219.

Abstract. Grounded in an open systems perspective, we build and test new theory about how the kinds of industries in which an organization participates influences organizational affective tone and connects to workforce strain. We propose that the more an organization’s activities lie in consumer-centric industries (e.g., service, retail), the more positive and less negative the organization’s affective tone. We connect consumer-centric industry participation and affective tone by explaining how personnel policies and organizational structure generate and sustain consistent positive and negative affect throughout an organization. Additionally, we examine the effects of organizational affective tone on workforce strain. The results of a survey-based study of 24,015 human resource managers, top management team members, and employees of 161 firms largely support our predictions. We discuss the implications of considering macro contextual factors for understanding affect in organizations.

The effects of group affect on social integration and task performance

Knight, A. P., & Eisenkraft, N. (2015). Positive is usually good, negative is not always bad: The effects of group affect on social integration and task performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100, 1214-1227.

Abstract. Grounded in a social functional perspective, this article examines the conditions under which group affect influences group functioning. Using meta-analysis, the authors leverage heterogeneity across 39 independent studies of 2,799 groups to understand how contextual factors—group affect source (exogenous or endogenous to the group) and group life span (one-shot or ongoing)—moderate the influence of shared feelings on social integration and task performance. As predicted, results indicate that group positive affect has consistent positive effects on social integration and task performance regardless of contextual idiosyncrasies. The effects of group negative affect, on the other hand, are context-dependent. Shared negative feelings promote social integration and task performance when stemming from an exogenous source or experienced in a 1-shot group, but undermine social integration and task performance when stemming from an endogenous source or experienced in an ongoing group. The authors discuss implications of their findings and highlight directions for future theory and research on group affect.

Group affect

Barsade, S. G., & Knight, A. P. (2015). Group affect. Annual Review of Organizational Behavior and Organizational Psychology, 2, 21-46.

Abstract. Over two decades of research has indicated that group affect is an important factor that shapes group processes and outcomes. We review and synthesize research on group affect, encompassing trait affect, moods, and emotions at a collective level in purposive teams. We begin by defining group affect and examining four major types of collective affective constructs: (a) convergence in group affect; (b) affective diversity, that is, divergence in group affect; (c) emotional culture; and (d) group affect as a dynamic process that changes over time. We describe the nomological network of group affect, examining both its group-level antecedents and group-level consequences. Antecedents include group leadership, group member attributes, and interactions between and relationships among group members. Consequences of group affect include attitudes about the group and group-level cooperation and conflict, creativity, decision making, and performance. We close by discussing current research knowns, research needs, and what lies on the conceptual and methodological frontiers of this domain.

Affect and change in exploratory search over time

Knight, A. P. (2015). Mood at the midpoint: Affect and change in exploratory search over time in teams that face a deadline. Organization Science, 26, 99-118.

Abstract. The purpose of this paper is to advance the team dynamics and group development literatures by developing and testing a theoretical model of how affect shapes transitions in teams over time. Integrating the group transitions literature with theory and research on the mood-as-input theory, I propose that shared team mood influences the extent to which team members seek out and experiment with alternative ways of completing their work at different points in a team’s life. In the first half of the team’s life, when team members are relatively task-focused, I argue that team positive mood (i.e., a positively valenced affective state shared by team members at a given point in time) stimulates, whereas team negative mood (i.e., a negatively valenced affective state shared by team members) suppresses, exploratory search. At the temporal midpoint, however, when team members’ focus on performance heightens, team positive mood acts as a shutoff switch for search, leading to a decline in exploratory search over the second half of the team’s life. Team negative mood at the midpoint, on the other hand, leads team members to persist in exploratory search, even as a deadline draws near. A team’s trajectory of exploratory search over time, I propose, influences team performance such that it is highest when teams engage in high exploratory search early in the team’s life and decline in exploratory search over the second half of the team’s life. The results of a longitudinal, survey-based study of teams preparing for a military competition largely support my predictions.

Shared attention increases mood infusion

Shteynberg, G., Hirsh, J., Galinsky, A., & Knight, A. P. (2014). Shared attention increases mood infusion. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143, 123-130.

Abstract. The current research explores how awareness of shared attention influences attitude formation. We theorized that sharing the experience of an object with fellow group members would increase elaborative processing, which in turn would intensify the effects of participant mood on attitude formation. Four experiments found that observing the same object as similar others produced more positive ratings among those in a positive mood, but more negative ratings among those in a negative mood. Participant mood had a stronger influence on evaluations when an object had purportedly been viewed by similar others than when (a) that same object was being viewed by dissimilar others, (b) similar others were viewing a different object, (c) different others were viewing a different object, or (d) the object was viewed alone with no others present. Study 4 demonstrated that these effects were driven by heightened cognitive elaboration of the attended object in the shared attention condition. These findings support the theoretical conjecture that an object attended with one’s ingroup is subject to broader encoding in relation to existing knowledge structures.