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Emotional competence at work

Heini Ikävalko (Center for Knowledge and Innovation Research, Aalto University School of Business, Helsinki, Finland) (Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)
Päivi Hökkä (Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)
Susanna Paloniemi (Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)
Katja Vähäsantanen (Department of Education, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 28 August 2020

Issue publication date: 7 December 2020




The study investigated emotional competence at work and elaborated emotional competence in relation to sociocultural aspects of emotions at work.


Emotional competence at work was explored via interviews, surveys and observations. The study was conducted over one year, during which an emotion-training intervention was conducted within a medium-sized company, operating in the healthcare sector.


The study shed light on emotional competence at work, identifying three domains: individual emotional competence, emotional competence within interactions and emotional competence embedded in workplace practices.

Research limitations/implications

This study was conducted in one organization.

Practical implications

Organizational developers are recommended to implement activities such as training interventions in order to build emotional competence; this applies not only at the individual level but also to achieve interaction among members of the organization within collective workplace practices.


Previous studies on emotional competence have been limited to the individual level. The sociocultural approach to emotional competence adopted in this study recognizes – in addition to the individual and interactional level of emotional competence – emotional competence at work as related to practices at work.



The research was funded by The Finnish Work Environment Fund, Grant No 117357.


Ikävalko, H., Hökkä, P., Paloniemi, S. and Vähäsantanen, K. (2020), "Emotional competence at work", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 33 No. 7, pp. 1485-1498.



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