About Resonance and Dissonance: Applying Wave Theory to Understand Emotional Cultures in Organizations

Zoom Research Seminar

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Past event — 15 December 2021

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Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi

Associate Professor of Human Resource Management

Kühne Logistics University - KLU

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Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior & Head of Department of Leadership and Management

Kühne Logistics University - KLU

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Authors: Prisca Brosi and Niels Van Quaquebeke

In this paper, we transfer wave theory from physics to explain emotional convergence across time in organizations. Affective events theory and primitive emotional contagion jointly lay the basis for transferring the idea of natural frequencies to describe how principles of resonance and dissonance can be applied to the emergence of emotional cultures in organizations. Further, we introduce psychological distance as a general boundary condition for the resulting processes of resonance and dissonance. The resulting theoretical model connects to theory on both the individual and the organizational level. On the individual level, it contributes to research on socialization in describing how newcomers react to emotional cultures in either fitting, assimilating, or leaving the organization. On the organizational level, we aim to explain the persistence of emotional cultures but also aim to identify potential disruption. The research model can be tested with a combination of simulation, experiments, and experience sampling designs on the individual, group, and organizational level. Given that we describe nonconscious processes in organizations, the results will provide important indications for organizations on how to create and change their emotional culture.


Prof. Dr. Prisca Brosi is Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at the KLU. She studied industrial engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Having finished her studies with a diploma in 2006, she worked for three years as a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. Dr. Brosi did her Doctorate in 2012 directly followed by her Habilitation studies at the Technical University Munich. During this time, she has been a visiting researcher at the Hong Kong Polytechnical University and the New York University.

Prof. Dr. Niels Van Quaquebeke is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior and Head of Department of Leadership and Management at the KLU. He is additionally affiliated (part-time) with the University of Exeter as a Distinguished Research Professor. He is recognised as one of the Top100 German speaking business scholars (in WirtschaftsWoche and in the under 40 category in the last two Handelsblatt rankings). A psychologist by training, he pursued his PhD at the University of Hamburg and as a visiting scholar at various business schools around the globe. In 2008, he received the ERIM top talent post-doc fellowship at the Rotterdam School of Management of the Erasmus University where he later also taught as an Assistant Professor.



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Bärbel Wegener

Assistant to Resident Faculty