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Emotions, coping and learning in error situations in the workplace

Andreas Rausch (Area of Economic and Business Education, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany)
Jürgen Seifried (Area of Economic and Business Education, University of Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany)
Christian Harteis (Institute of Education, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 10 July 2017




This paper aims to investigate the complex relationship between emotions, coping approaches and learning in error situations in the workplace. The study also examines the influence of individual error orientation, as well as psychological safety, and team learning behaviour as contextual factors.


To measure emotions, coping and learning from errors in situ, a semi-standardised error diary was administered. Individual and contextual factors were measured by standard questionnaires. Totally, 22 young employees participated in the study and recorded n = 99 error situations in a three-week diary period.


Errors typically provoked negative emotions, particularly in cases of “public” errors. Negative emotions provoked emotion-focused coping. However, there was no direct effect of emotions on learning. Learning seems to depend primarily on the in-depth analysis of the error, no matter whether the original coping intention is aimed at problem-solving, self-protection or emotion regulation. A quick error correction does not necessarily result in learning. Furthermore, plausible influences of individual and contextual factors were found, but must be interpreted cautiously.

Research limitations/implications

The small sample size, particularly in person-level analyses, is a major shortcoming of the study.


To overcome shortcomings of common retrospective self-reports such as interviews or questionnaires, this study uses the diary method as an innovative approach to investigate processes in situ.



Rausch, A., Seifried, J. and Harteis, C. (2017), "Emotions, coping and learning in error situations in the workplace", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 29 No. 5, pp. 374-393.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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