Heated Atmosphere: Organizational Emotions and Field Structuring in Online Climate Change Debates



We use an organizational issue field to conceptualize how organizations partake in the signification of amorphous, yet intransigent issues – such as climate change. Following a network conception, field structure is captured as the linkages between organizations. Besides meaning system, and values, emotional expressions can affect the positioning of organizations within the field and, hence, how they define, debate, and address the core issue. Thus, we ask: How do framings, values, and emotion affect the structure of an organizational issue field? We answer our research question by synthesizing theories of fields, structuring, and emotion. By completing a network analysis of the online climate change debate, we find that organizations are most likely to link to other organizations expressing similar emotions – resembling organizational emotional entrainment. Expressed emotionality influences organizations’ positions in an organizational issue field even beyond cognitive framings like issue stance, values like moral worldviews, and typical in-group clustering’s like organizational type or political orientation.

Grand Challenge seminar series

This presentation is part of the Grand Challenge seminar series. The aim of this series is to foster high-level discussions within ERIM on grand societal challenges (the reduction of poverty, increasing equality, combating climate change) and the opportunities that these provide for management and organizational research. The focus on grand challenges aligns with the interest of the business-society department and RSM more widely on sustainability and the UN's sustainable development goals. Specifically, we invite leading researchers from business schools around the world who connect grand challenges to management and organizational theory and publish their work in the leading journals of our field.