Ten years ago, Hillary A. Elfenbein published a major review of research that examined emotion in the workplace in the Academy of Management Annals. Since then, her paper has been cited more than 500 times. At the recent Academy of Management (AOM) annual meeting, Elfenbein’s work was honored as the Annals’ paper that has made the greatest impact over the past decade. Elfenbein is the John K. Wallace, Jr. and Ellen A. Wallace Distinguished Professor at Olin and she teaches organizational behavior.
Hillary A. Elfenbein
“Emotions in Organizations:
A Review and Theoretical Integration”
Vol. 1, Issue 1, 1 December 2007
“The paper was an integration of all of the research that had ever been done on emotion in the workplace,” Elfenbein explained. “Interestingly enough when I started out, emotion was considered a fringe topic. I actually got very sage advice from my mentors that I should give this up and find a serious topic to work on.”
Elfenbein became interested in emotion in the workplace a few years after Daniel Goldman’s popular book Emotional Intelligence was published in 1995. Despite the discouragement from mentors and a general lack of respect for the topic among academics in business schools, Elfenbein was determined. “I’m a bit stubborn and I persisted with the topic even though it was really something that I had to fight for in graduate school to be able to work on.”
By 2006, there was an explosion of research on emotion in the workplace, but Elfenbein found that it was disconnected and disjointed. “With this paper I was trying to draw together all of this new research into one theoretical, unified model,” she explained. Her work has clearly become a touchstone and great resource for researchers delving into the now accepted academic field of emotion in the workplace.
Elfenbein adds that she felt very fortunate and honored to receive the award from the AOM. “The best part is that it came with an umbrella. I got a little plaque and a big umbrella!”