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Sense or sensibility?: Emotional labor from the perspective of female leaders
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (professional degree), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Emotional labor is the unpaid and often unnoticed emotion work that foremost women carry out, not only in the home life but at the workplace as well. Emotional labor is highly associated with femininity according to previous research and often involves being attentive to others, creating a good ambiance, and to be warm and caring. From previous studies, it is implied that emotional labor creates stress as women often have to manage other people’s emotions as well as their own and that there is an expectancy on women to do so. What is implied from those circumstances in relation to work life is that the opportunities for women to climb the work ladder decreases, as women perform emotional labor in addition to, or instead of, their regular work tasks. There is no previous research to be found on what type of impact emotional labor has on women in leading positions, or on female leaders in the private sector in Sweden.

The main purpose of the thesis is to find how emotional labor impacts female leaders in their leadership role and to find how widespread emotional labor is amongst companies in the Swedish private sector. We aim to shed light on the often unnoticed, or invisible, emotion work foremost women perform in their workplaces, which leads to the research question: What impact does emotional labor have on women in their leadership role?

The theoretical framework is mainly based on previous research on emotional labor and leadership theories. Carefully chosen theories on expectations in male and female leadership are added to broaden the background. Further, facts on gender equality are provided as support.

The chosen research method for the thesis is qualitative with an exploratory research design and an inductive approach. In line with the chosen method, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 participants from a purposive, homogeneous sampling. The interviews were further transcribed, analyzed and presented through a thematic analysis.

The key findings imply that emotional labor is highly present among women in leadership positions. The findings imply that emotional labor is expected from women to perform, although not outspoken. Further, the findings imply that there is different expectations on leadership and leadership style from the employees, the board and the leaders themselves. With an expectancy from employees to lead with an emotional leadership, an expectancy from the board to lead to make results and a confusion in their own leadership, it will lead to stress in the leaders too.

The conclusion of the thesis is: Women are affected by emotional labor in their leadership role as they feel an obligation to perform it, while still not doing it too much since that would, according to expectations from society, present them as poor leaders. If they, on the other hand, do not perform any emotional labor at all, they are not considered to be team players.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 95
Keywords [en]
emotional labor, leadership, managers, female, organizations, policy making
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-160568OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-160568DiVA, id: diva2:1328862
Educational program
Study Programme in Business Administration and Economics
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-06-24 Created: 2019-06-23 Last updated: 2019-06-24Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
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