“I Am Not What I Am” – Destructive Emotions in an Organizational Hierarchy: The Case of Othello and Iago

The Effect of Affect in Organizational Settings

ISBN: 978-0-76231-234-4, eISBN: 978-1-84950-362-4

ISSN: 1746-9791

Publication date: 26 September 2005

Abstract

It may be daunting for those who do not know or care for Shakespeare, but Othello is a compelling case study of destructive emotions in an organizational setting. Iago's chilling words from The Tragedy of Othello, The Moor of Venice are the title of this chapter, “I am not what I am”. Passed over for promotion, Iago wreaks havoc in the personal and professional life of the General who chose not to appoint him. We use this play as a case study of destructive emotions – specifically jealousy, anger, and shame – in an organizational hierarchy. The premise is that those who are passed over present a special managerial problem, one that we address at the end of the chapter after carefully looking at how revenge came to manifest from the emotions of the principal characters in the play. In addition, this chapter contributes to the growing literature on specific emotions as experienced in organizational life as well as advancing the links between management and the humanities by using one of Shakespeare's best-known tragedies as a case study.

Citation

Poulson, C., Duncan, J. and Massie, M. (2005), "“I Am Not What I Am” – Destructive Emotions in an Organizational Hierarchy: The Case of Othello and Iago", Ashkanasy, N., Zerbe, W. and Härtel, C. (Ed.) The Effect of Affect in Organizational Settings (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 1), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 211-240. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1746-9791(05)01109-0

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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