Emotion regulation of Employees - University of Tilburg

Loading...
Running head: MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Master thesis Human Resource Studies

Emotion regulation of Employees: A linking Pin in explaining Organizational change resistance during Organizational change processes?

Author note Author:

Janey Zweekhorst (141548)

University:

Tilburg University, Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Supervisor:

Dr. K. Van Dam

Second assessor:

Dr. M.J.D. Schalk

Project theme:

Emotion Regulation

Project period:

February 2014 – July 2014

1

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Preface This thesis deals with the subject of emotion regulation. Dr. J. Gross is seen as the founder of emotion regulation and he has done a lot of experimental research on this topic. His studies contained a lot of different emotion regulation strategies that people can use to cope with their emotions. In this study, only two emotion regulation strategies were analyzed namely, cognitive re-appraisal and rumination. The reason for this is that in previous research these two emotion regulation strategies had the most effect on organizational outcomes during change. Dr. K. Van Dam provides an important and influential contribution to this topic because she studied emotion regulation strategies of employees during organizational change and developed scales for the emotion regulation strategies. I chose to study emotion regulation because I immediately could relate to this topic. At my work I am currently experiencing a change situation and it interested me that employees cope with their emotions and organizational change differently. In addition, I really liked the fact that emotion regulation is a psychological concept where the perspective of the employee is taken into account. I believe that employees have their own goals and motives at work besides achieving the goals of the organization. That is why employees have an important role when achieving successful organizational change. In my opinion, organizational change can be more effective when the process of emotion regulation of employees is better understood. When writing my thesis I have learned a lot and I would really like to express my gratitude to Dr. K. Van Dam. Thanks to her critical comments and useful feedback my second reader Dr. M.J.D. Schalk had not much feedback for improvement. I do want to thank him for reading my thesis and for providing helpful comments. I also would like to thank the respondents who participated in this study and filled out the questionnaire. At last, I would like to thank my family, friends and boyfriend for their mental support and understanding.

2

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Abstract Employees who have highly restructured tasks due to organizational change are likely to resist the change. The aim of this study was to investigate whether emotion regulation strategies played a role in this process. Two strategies of emotion regulation were studied; cognitive re-appraisal and rumination, as mediators of the relationship between task restructuring and resistance to change using Affective Events Theory of Weiss and Cropanzano (1996) as theoretical framework. Data were collected among 111 employees working in nine Dutch organizations. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses, both with cross-sectional and longitudinal data. The longitudinal analysis revealed that task restructuring was positively related to rumination and that cognitive reappraisal was negatively related to resistance to change. Rumination was positively related to resistance to change, but the results support the view that this effect is temporary and not stable over time. The results did not support the expectations that emotion regulation strategies mediate the relationship between task restructuring and resistance to change. Future research is recommended. Keywords: emotions, emotion regulation, resistance to change, task restructuring, cognitive re-appraisal, rumination, affective events theory

3

4

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Introduction Nowadays, organizations are faced with turbulent economic times and globalization of the world. Due to this external environment, organizations are operating with the pressure of increased competition, new technological developments and changed institutional demands. These economic, technological and institutional demands call for agile organizations that can adapt and change quickly to their external environment (Tros, 2004). Change processes are important for organizations to remain viable and inevitable to survive in this global world. Employees have an important role during change processes and can influence the success of organizational change (Dent & Goldberg, 1999). However, organizational changes often negatively affect employees, because their work tasks and methods are constantly changed due to updated work processes (Nikolova, Van Ruysseveldt, De Witte, & Syroit, 2014). Therefore, employees are often not that enthusiastic to embrace organizational changes (Dent, & Goldberg, 1999). According to the Affective Events Theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996), organizational change can be seen as an affective event which triggers specific emotions of employees. Organizational changes often gives rise to negative employee emotions such as fear of failure, anxiety and anger (Cummings, & Worley, 2009). How employees cope with their emotions during organizational change is important because this influences how employees respond to the change (Gross, 2002). Negative emotions of employees can jeopardize the intended benefits of the change process for organizations and fuel resistance to change (Kiefer, 2002). A better understanding of the emotion regulation strategies that employees use for coping with their

emotions

is

therefore

essential

to

manage

the

change

process

in

organizations more efficiently (Fugate, Prussia, & Kinicki, 2012). The aim of this study is to investigate whether the extent of changes in employees’ tasks and work methods have an effect on change resistance and whether emotion regulation strategies are playing a role in this process. How people cope with emotions and which emotion regulation strategies they use is generally studied in

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

experimental research (Gross, 1998; Richards, & Gross, 2000). Until now, organizational research has paid little attention to the emotion regulation strategies of employees in the context of organizational change. This research is relevant because it studies the process of emotion regulation over time through a longitudinal field study, and investigates whether the underlying mechanism of emotion regulation mediates the effect between task restructuring and resistance to change. When the process of emotion regulation is better understood and it is found that emotion regulation serves as a linking pin in the relationship between task restructuring and resistance to change, it will provide useful information. For instance, information about how to minimize resistance to change and how to make organizational change more effective. The conceptual model of this study is displayed in Figure 1. The following research question is developed: To what extent does emotion regulation mediate the relationship between task restructuring and employees’ change resistance in organizations?

Figure 1. Conceptual model with emotion regulation strategies as mediators

5

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Theoretical Framework Task restructuring and Resistance to change It is a common fact that most employees resist organizational change (Dent & Goldberg, 1999). When employees have resistance to change it can have negative consequences for the organization because it will drawback the change process and it will make the organizational change less successful (Lewin, 1951). Moreover, resistance to change is an important cause of failure when implementing organizational changes (Kotter & Schlesinger, 2008; Piderit, 2000). Failure of organizational changes will result in high costs for the organization and less chance to survive in the environment (Lewis, 2011). The term resistance to change has gone through a transformation in meaning over time from a systems concept to a more psychological one (Dent & Goldberg, 1999). In this study, resistance to change is viewed as a multidimensional construct with affective, cognitive and behavioral components that each reflect a different aspect of employee responses to organizational change processes (Piderit, 2000). The affective component displays how employees are feeling about the change. The cognitive component involves how employees think about the change and the behavioral component involves how employees act upon the organizational change (Oreg, 2006). Employees might resist changes that involve task restructuring. Task restructuring refers to management-initiated changes in job tasks and work methods of employees with the purpose of organizational change (Nikolova et al., 2014). Management-initiated changes are not always voluntary for employees and thus can be seen as a threat (Rafferty & Griffin, 2006). In addition, the process of task restructuring is often conducted with general structural changes of the whole organization, such as downsizing where employees are being laid off. Research has indicated that task restructuring, due to organizational change, can be associated with unavoidable human cost (Campion & McClelland, 1993). The status quo of employees is deliberately changed during organizational change processes and this can result in negative employee

6

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

outcomes (Lewin, 1951). Therefore, it is expected that task restructuring initiated by management in the context of organizational change can have negative effects on employee behavior, attitude and emotions. The study of Nikolova et al. (2014) indeed found that task restructuring was seen as a demanding situation and was negatively associated with employee well-being. Therefore, it is expected that task changes are negatively experienced by employees and that this will result in resistance to change. The relationship between task restructuring and resistance to change can be explained by Affective Events Theory (AET) of Weiss and Cropanzano (1996). Task restructuring can be seen as an affective event at work. This affective event generates specific emotions, which in turn influence affectively driven behavior of employees, like resistance to change. It is therefore assumed that the more job tasks and work methods are being restructured the more negative emotions are experienced and the more resistance employees have towards organizational change. The following hypothesis is formulated: Hypothesis 1. Task restructuring is positively related to resistance to change. Emotion regulation during Change The relationship between task restructuring and resistance to change can be further explained by the role of emotion regulation strategies. Following AET, task restructuring can be seen as an emotional experience which elicit employees emotions. These emotions are episodic states that employees feel and experience (Watson & Clark, 1994). According to appraisal theory of emotion (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), it is crucial how employees appraise the situation of organizational change because this explains the way employees attend to changes and whether they have positive or negative emotions towards it. Their emotions also indicate the importance and relevance of the organizational change to them (Parkinson, 1995). Emotion regulation is the process where people try to influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express them (Gross, 1998). According to Gross' model (1998, 2002), of emotion regulation people use

7

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

different kind of emotion regulation strategies to cope with their emotions, which helps them to influence their affective states (Gross & Thompson, 2007). Emotion regulation processes can be conscious or unconscious, and automatic or controlled (Gross, 1998). In this study, two emotion regulation strategies of Gross’ model of emotion regulation are included, cognitive re-appraisal and rumination. Both strategies are antecedent focused and occur before employees have an emotion response tendency (Gross, 2008). This means that the emotion of an employee is not fully activated yet because the response of the felt emotions is not yet expressed (Gross, 1998). Response-focused emotion regulation strategies are actions of employees after emotions are experienced (Gross, 2001). In this study the focus is on the response tendency of resistance to change as a consequence of the emotion regulation strategies of cognitive re-appraisal and rumination. Cognitive re-appraisal - The emotion regulation strategy of cognitive reappraisal refers to employees’ changing their interpretations or perspectives of a situation, for example the situation of organizational change with accompanied task restructuring (Gross, 1998; Van Dam, 2012). An employee could for example re-appraise this situation to a more positive view and interpret organizational change as an opportunity to learn new skills and broaden one’s task responsibilities. Cognitive re-appraisal decreases the emotional impact the situation has on an employee by looking at it more positively (Gross, 2002). Therefore, cognitive re-appraisal is considered as an adaptive emotion regulation strategy which can alter the negative subjective state of the employee (Gross, 2002; McRae, Jacobs, Ray, John, & Gross, 2012; Van Dam, & Visser, 2014). Rumination - Rumination is part of the emotion regulation strategy attentional deployment (Gross, 2002). The emotion regulation strategy of attentional deployment helps employees to regulate their emotions without changing the actual environment but changing aspects of it by directing their attention (Gross & Thompson, 2006). This refocusing of employees can be on more positive aspects of the situation or by changing their internal focus to provoke more positive thoughts (Gross, 1998). In contrast, when

8

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

employees ruminate, their attention and focus is directed to negative emotions and feelings of the situation, for example the negative sides of organizational changes or task restructuring (Gross, 1998). Ruminating on negative events leads to more and longer depressive symptoms because it strengthens the negative cognitive state of an individual employee (Just & Alloy, 1997). Rumination is therefore considered to be a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy (Leahy, 2007).

Task restructuring and Emotion Regulation In the last decade, research has begun to focus on emotional reactions as a response to organizational change (Huy, 2002; Kiefer, 2005). Why does a change process in an organization trigger emotional responses in employees, and how do employees cope with these emotions? Changes in an organization can be viewed as ‘triggering events’ for employee emotions because new behaviors, thoughts and expertise are expected (Isabella, 1992). Research has indicated that employees often appraise organizational changes negatively as a harm or threat and that this elicits negative emotions and behaviors (Fugate, Kinicki, & Prussia, 2008; Kiefer, 2005; Scheck & Kinicki, 2000). In this study, it is assumed that the more tasks are being restructured the more emotions are experienced by employees (Kiefer, 2005). This is assumed because during change processes the status quo of employees is deliberately altered by management, whereby employees need to learn new behaviors, attitudes and work methods (Lewin, 1951). Employees need to adapt to the changed situation and when their tasks are more restructured, the greater the trigger is for an emotional reaction of an employee, according to AET (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996). Employees can regulate these emotions by using the emotion regulation strategy of cognitive re-appraisal or rumination. Cognitive re-appraisal - Employees can look at the change process in a more positive way by using the emotion regulation strategy of cognitive re-appraisal. By using this strategy, employees are focusing on the more positive aspects of organizational change (Gross, 2002). It is expected that the more task changes are experienced by

9

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

employees, the harder it is for them to give a positive meaning towards the change process because their status quo is altered more. Because old work methods, behaviors and attitudes are outdated and no longer valid, employees can experience feelings of insecurity, uncertainty and task ambiguity (Cummings & Worley, 2009). These feelings are triggers for negative emotions towards the organizational change and impede reappraising the new working situation more positively. Van Dam, Kleine and Struijs (2013) found that job insecurity had a negative effect on cognitive re-appraisal; when employees experience more job insecurity they were less likely to re-appraise the change situation in a positive way. In addition, Van Dam and Visser (2013) observed that employees were less likely to use cognitive re-appraisal as an emotion regulation strategy when they perceived injustice in a change situation. These previous studies provide evidence for a negative relationship between aversive work conditions owing to the change and the use of cognitive re-appraisal. Therefore the following hypothesis is formulated: Hypothesis 2. Task restructuring is negatively related to cognitive re-appraisal Rumination - The Job Demand-Control model of Karasek (1979) provides additional support for the assumption that task restructuring can elicit negative emotions. It is expected that employees will experience their job as more demanding when the organization is changing their tasks and work methods. Additionally, employees will experience less control about their new work situation because they did not master the new required behavior, attitudes and work methods yet. High job demands and low control about one’s tasks results in high-strain jobs (Karasek, 1979). High strain jobs have a negative effect on employees’ health and well-being and can result in burnout and psychological distress with accompanied negative thoughts, emotions and feelings (Van der Doef, & Maes, 1999). It is expected that when tasks are changed more, the experienced work strain of employees increases, which in turn leads to negative employee emotions and thoughts. When employees ruminate their attention is drawn to the negative

10

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

aspects of the situation and by ruminating they try to regulate these negative emotions (Gross, 1998). Therefore, it is assumed that the more tasks and work methods are restructured the more employees will ruminate because more negative emotions towards organizational change are experienced. The study of Bambra, Egan, Thomas, Petticrew and Whitehead (2007) found that task restructuring interventions that increase demands and/or decrease control about one’s job affect the health of employees. This previous study and the Job Demand-Control model provide support for a positive relationship between task restructuring and the emotion regulation strategy of rumination. The following hypothesis is formulated: Hypothesis 3. Task restructuring is positively related to rumination

Emotion Regulation and Resistance to change According to AET (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996) emotions mediate the link between affective events and subsequent behavior and attitudes of employees. In this study the focus is on the outcome of resistance to change as a consequence of which emotion regulation strategies employees use. Research indicates that cognitive reappraisal has positive effects on employee health and well-being (Gross, & Thompson, 2007). Furthermore, cognitive re-appraisal is seen as an adaptive emotion regulation strategy where the emotional impact of the organizational change is decreased (Gross, 2002). It is expected that when employees are able to re-appraise the situation of organizational change, this will lead to more openness to organizational change because a more positive meaning is attached to the change process and negative emotions have been altered. Van Dam and Visser (2014) indeed found that employees were less likely to develop resistance to change when they use cognitive re-appraisal as an emotion regulation strategy. The following hypothesis is formulated:

Hypothesis 4. Cognitive re-appraisal is negatively related to resistance to change

11

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Rumination is seen as a maladaptive emotion regulation strategy where the negative cognitive state of an employee is strengthened (Just & Alloy, 1997). Bovey and Hede (2001) studied the relationship between maladaptive defence mechanisms and resistance to change and found that these maladaptive defence mechanisms (denial, acting out and isolation of affect) were positively related to resistance to change. Therefore it is assumed that the more people ruminate the more resistance they will have towards the change. Van Dam and Visser (2014) indeed found a positive relationship between rumination and resistance to change. The following hypothesis is formulated: Hypothesis 5. Rumination is positively related to resistance to change Task restructuring, Emotion regulation and Resistance to change Organizations need to neutralize negative emotions from employees and alter resistance to change for making the change process successful. Following AET (Weiss and Cropanzano, 1996), task changes are an affective event which trigger emotional responses from employees and subsequently influence resistance to change. In sum, when tasks are restructured more, employees are less able to reappraise the situation and will ruminate more, whereby they develop more resistance to the change. When the results of this study find that emotion regulation serves as a mediation between the relationship between task restructuring and resistance to change, it will provide useful information for effective change processes in organizations on how to minimize resistance to change. The following hypothesis is formulated: Hypothesis 6. The relationship between task restructuring and resistance to change is mediated by cognitive re-appraisal and rumination.

12

13

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Method Study design This longitudinal study was part of a larger research project on emotion regulation strategies during organizational change. The variables that were used in this study were all measured twice in time. By measuring all variables twice, the causal relationships of the variables were better established. When testing the longitudinal study design, the independent and mediating variables in this study were used at time 1 (T1) and the dependent variable at time 2 (T2). In this way, common rater effect and method bias were tried to be reduced (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Podsakoff, & Lee, 2003). In addition, the conceptual model of this study was also tested cross-sectional, were all variables were analysed at T1.

Procedure The sample was comprised of employees from various organizations in the Netherlands operating in different industries. Convenience sampling was used to select organizations that experienced some form of organizational change. Nine different organizations participated in this study namely: Rabobank Zuid-Holland Midden (Bank), Cap

Gemini

(Consulting),

Dong Energy (Energy company), Gemeente

Oss

(Municipality), Itho Daalderop (Manufacturing), Koninklijke Landelijke Politie Dienst (Police), Open Universiteit (University), Insurance company, and Viecurie (Hospital). These organizations were approached by email, telephone, LinkedIn and personal contact. Then, the study was introduced and permission to conduct the study was requested. Upon consent, an announcement was sent to employees by email to explain and introduce the study. Two weeks after this announcement a link for the questionnaire was sent to all participants inlcuding a cover letter. The cover letter stated that anonymity of respondents was guaranteed and that all information would be used confidentially and only for the aim of research. The questionnaire was digital and developed in Qualtrics. At the end of the questionnaire, participants needed to fill out a verification code that was used to

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

anonimously connect participants when using a longitudinal study design. Participants of the study at T1 received an invitation one month later to fill out the questionnaire at T2. The second questionnaire was shorter than the first one because the personal characteristic variables of emotional stability, openness and self-efficacy were removed as they are considered constant characteristics that do not change over time. To increase the response rate, reminders were sent.

Sample Aproximately 720 employees were approached to participate in this study. From the 374 returned questionnaires from measurement number one 111 were removed because they obtained missing data. Only participants who filled out the entire questionnaire were used in the sample. The sample of measurement one consisted of employees only (N=263) and exceeds the minimum size requirement suggested by Tabachnick and Fidell (2007). The response rate at T1 was 36.37%. The participants who filled out the questionnaire at T1, received an invitation to fill out the questionnaire again at T2. In total 111 respondents from the original sample (N=263) filled out the questionnaire at T1 and T2. Only respondents who filled out the questionnaires twice were taking into account in this study. The response rate of measurement two was 42.21%. The final sample contained 48.6% men and 51.4% women. On average, participants were 42 years old (SD=10.3) and were working for 14 years at their organization (SD=11.63). Most employees had an higher vocational education (41,4%) or a university degree (26.1%). 28.8% had a lower vocational education and 3.6% had a secondary education. None of the respondents had only a primary education. 73.9% of the participants stated that their organization was in the middle of an organizational change process. At time one, 78.4% of the same participants stated this. Almost all of the organizations were downsizing due to a reorganization. The organization Dong Energy was restructuring due to a take-over.

14

MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE

Independent-samples t-test An independent-samples t-test was conducted to compare differences among two groups of the study sample. Group 1 are employees who filled out the questionnaire the first time (N=263) and Group 2 are employees who filled out the questionnaire twice (N=111). Variables that were included in the independent T-test were age, tenure, task restructuring, cognitive re-appraisal, rumination and resistance to change at T1. There were significant differences between the two groups in the mean scores for rumination and resistance to change. The mean score on rumination of Group 1 (M = 2.12, SD = .80) was higher than the mean score of Group 2 (M = 1.82, SD = .63). The mean difference was significant (t (260.78) = 3.38, p
Loading...

Emotion regulation of Employees - University of Tilburg

Running head: MEDIATION EFFECT OF EMOTION REGULATION DURING ORGANIZATIONAL CHANGE Master thesis Human Resource Studies Emotion regulation of Employe...

507KB Sizes 0 Downloads 0 Views

Recommend Documents

Master Thesis - University of Tilburg - Tilburg University
Master Thesis. Evaluating Inventory Collaboration in Healthcare Industry: A System Dynamics Study. Zhongning Li [166875]

Master Thesis - University of Tilburg - Tilburg University
Master Thesis. The effect of online coaching interventions on employee's self-efficacy and resilience at work. A quantit

master thesis - University of Tilburg - Tilburg University
Aug 17, 2010 - MASTER THESIS. Fashion Cities and the Urban Regime Theory. Tilburg University. Faculty of Social and Beha

MSc Thesis - University of Tilburg - Tilburg University
Dec 13, 2010 - A-F Rutkowski. J. Pluyter MSc. Exam committee dr. A-F Rutkowski dr. B.A. van de Walle. Study. : Tilburg U

Mindful Emotion Regulation - CommonKnowledge - Pacific University
Dec 9, 2011 - versus two-factor models of emotion regulation are introduced, followed by a description of the emotion re

Logic of Pride - University of Tilburg - Tilburg University
The frequency of expressing pride was higher for men then for women. Key words; pride, emotion, hubristic pride, authent

A Theory of Regret Regulation 1.0 - Tilburg University
We propose a theory of regret regulation that distinguishes regret from related emotions, specifies the conditions ... r

Prospective Effects of Emotion-Regulation Skills
University of California, Davis. Peggilee Wupperman. Yale University. Laurenz L. Meier and Franz Caspar. University of B

Sensitive Periods of Emotion Regulation - CANDLAB | Yale
Abstract. Early caregiving experiences play a central role in shaping emotional develop- ment, stress physiology, and re

Leadership and motivation - University of Tilburg - Tilburg University
motivation. Intrinsic motivation is internally driven and therefore, certain task characteristics are important in the s