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Deadline: 27 March 2020
Managing Emotional Labour in the Public Sector
Past research assumed that managing public sector employees involved using rational management models (for example NPM) that ignored the nature of humans, particularly the emotional labour undertaken largely by street-level bureaucrats. Additionally, many public sector employees have experienced significant change in their workplaces over the past four decades, with those in Anglo Saxon countries experiencing the most change. While the aim of reforms was to improve efficiency, effectiveness and transparency in public services, often through debilitating levels of austerity, the outcomes of these reforms are a product of the skills and positive emotions of their managers negotiating the intrepid path between organizational objectives and their emotional costs on employees.
While discretionary power is a desirable trait of professionals because it is associated with professional autonomy, for particular types of public sector employees, it has led to increased levels of work intensification and harassment because professionals feel responsible for delivering services to the public. It is an increasingly delicate balancing act for street-level bureaucrats (professionals and administrative) to negotiate a path that satisfies their professional obligations within the constraining organizational parameters such as inadequate resourcing, red tape and ever decreasing organizational slack, while maintaining their wellbeing.
This PMM theme calls for new research pushing forward our understanding of which leadership models can best manage emotional labour in the public and NFP sectors. ‘Emotional labour’ is the energy required from professionals to deliver an emotion to the client that is officially expected/mandated, but is at odds with their real emotions. The management of employees who need to use these skills has not received much attention in the public sector literature. However, those employees (such as nurses, doctors, police officers, social workers) who use high levels of emotional labour in delivering services to the public are also at risk of experiencing higher levels of stress (and, in the worst cases, burnout) compared with other employees, which is likely to negatively impact their wellbeing. There is insufficient research on affect and emotional labour in public sector organizations. This PMM theme calls for new research that empirically examines, but is not limited to:
- The role of emotions in coping with organizational challenges.
- How different types of public sector employees delivering services to the public are impacted by emotional labour.
- Emotional labour in relationships between public sector professionals with different client groups in various public services, particularly in the context of co-design, co-production and value co-creation in public services.
- Management models either hindering or supporting emotional labour.
- Negotiating emotional labour within various accountability regimes.
- Emotional labour in relation to management control packages, motivation and performance.
- The link between emotional labour and gender.
As well as research papers (up to 8000 words including references), the theme will include a debate articles (up to 1000 words) and new development articles (up to 2500 words). Please view the journal's Instructions for Authors prior to submitting an article.
Debate and new development articles will be reviewed by the guest editors and research papers will double-blind refereed by both an academic and a practitioner.he deadline for submissions of original 8,000-word articles is 27 March 2020. Submit via the PMM website and select the ‘special issue’ Managing emotional labour in the public sector.
PMM has a strong reputation for joining up research and practice, as well as disciplines and professional specialties. It has been publishing for nearly 40 years, now with eight issues a year. PMM articles are reviewed by a practitioner and an academic to ensure that they are readable and useful in the real world. PMM’s circulation includes over 15,000 CIPFA members and students, as well as central government departments, local authorities and international universities.
- Yvonne Brunetto, Southern Cross University, Australia
- Adina Dudau, University of Glasgow, UK