Collective emotional labor and subgroup dynamics in global virtual teams: a dramaturgical perspective

Tamar Parush, Nurit Zaidman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Emotional labor is a performance of job-required emotions, staged before an audience. Typically, this performance is not only individual but also collective in nature: it is an emotional display put on jointly by teams of employees. And yet, research into emotional labor has tended to neglect its collective aspects, analyzing it primarily as an individual rather than as a group act. This study aims to redress this gap. Drawing on Goffman’s dramaturgical analysis of social groups as “performance teams,” we reframe emotional labor as a collaborative performance at the group level. We then apply this framework to examine the intricacies of collective emotional labor between national subgroups in global virtual teams (GVTs), which communicate both cross-culturally and virtually. Based on semi-structured interviews with members of Indian-Israeli virtual teams in high-tech organizations, we show that each national subgroup in GVTs acts as an “emotional performance team” in front of the other subgroup/s as an audience; that this emotional labor tends to be suppressive rather than expressive and shallow rather than deep; and that the collective, suppressive, and shallow character of this emotional labor might fuel a paradoxical vicious cycle that exacerbates ethnocentrism and estrangement between national subgroups in GVTs rather than alleviating them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-262
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Studies of Management and Organization
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Collective emotional labor
  • Goffman
  • emotion
  • emotional labor
  • global virtual teams
  • intergroup relations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management

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