Emotional Agency – A new way to think about emotional intelligence in groups

Agency refers to active human participation that has the power to make a difference and influence current circumstances. In working life and organization studies, the concept of agency has emerged as a construct for understanding how individuals and organizations can survive or even flourish amid rapid societal and organizational changes. Yet, despite intensive research on agency in education and work environments, the topic remains underexplored through the lens of emotions.

Emotional intelligence is at the core of emotional agency

Emotional intelligence – the ability to act in an emotionally intelligent manner with oneself and with others – has been linked to improved workplace behavior and in particular team behavior and team performance. Emotional intelligence is usually only assessed at the individual level, without regard to the group dynamic. Very few measures of emotional intelligence consider how the group dynamic affects how people act in emotionally intelligent ways or examine contextually specific abilities used by employees in the workplace.

Emotional agency takes into account the socio-cultural environment and its effect on emotionally competent behavior

Researchers from the best Universities in Finland together with the Emergy team got together and brought the concepts of agency and emotional intelligence together, creating a completely new and innovative concept: emotional agency. Emotional agency takes into account both the individual level and the interpersonal (group) level. It is a completely new way to think about workplace emotional intelligence. Emotional agency expands the competence related to emotions from individuals to the competence and functioning of the work community. It acknowledges the role of socio-cultural conditions at the workplace but sees individuals as subjects who can make choices about their own actions and behavior.
The first article of this ground-breaking research on the concept of emotional agency has just been published! We at Emergy, have continued this research and further developed the measure of emotional agency, in order to create a comprehensive, research-based, and practical tool for measuring the emotional agency and other factors that affect the emotional climate in a specific team or organization. Read more about the outcome of this research and development project here: Emergy Emotional Climate Audit®.

Frontiers | Emotional Agency at Work: The Development and Validation of a Measure (frontiersin.org)


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