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Emotional Socialization in Times of Disruption: A Mixed-Methods Case Study of Emotional Labor Among Nonprofit Employees During Covid-19

aOffice of Evaluation Sciences, USA
bUniversity of Southern California, USA

Emotions During Times of Disruption

ISBN: 978-1-80382-838-1, eISBN: 978-1-80382-837-4

Publication date: 20 January 2023



Rarely is emotional labor explicitly discussed as a required aspect of crisis response work. While the gender inequities in withdrawal from the workforce emerging from the pandemic are well documented, we know little about the emotional toll of managing the ongoing disruption of the pandemic for women with different degrees of membership in organizations.


This research uses a dynamic mixed-methods approach in studying emotional labor among women during times of disruption. Specifically, we explore with surveys, daily diary entries, and semistructured interviews the emotional experiences of women working at a California-based nonprofit organization during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. With our data, we are able to compare the emotional expectations and experiences of full-time (FT) and part-time (PT) employees.


Results show differences in emotional experiences and labor by group membership, with FT employees reporting higher rates of surface acting: FT employees suppressed (28%) and inauthentically expressed (12%) emotions more often than PT employees (23% and 5%, respectively). Qualitative evidence suggests socialization is occurring more formally for FT employees and informally for PT employees, influencing perceived emotional expectations and subsequent emotional labor.

Research Implications

The contributions to this volume focus on an understudied topic in nonprofit management: emotional experiences in times of disruption. Novel evidence on differing emotional experiences, particularly surface acting, as a function of group membership may motivate other research to disentangle issues of change management during crises.

Practical Implications

These differing rates of surface acting have meaningful implications for burnout and retention of employees in a sector that is heavily reliant on voluntary and PT engagement. Thus, this work serves to provide organizational leadership and management insight on mechanisms shaping employee outcomes.

Social Implications

The findings here have important implications for employee well-being and are crucial to the way individuals across society manage the stress of working during times of crisis.


PT work is subject to different emotional norms than FT work. These novel findings provide value to organizational leaders who oversee a workforce with varying degrees of group membership.



Barboza-Wilkes, C., Le, T.V. and Turesky, M. (2023), "Emotional Socialization in Times of Disruption: A Mixed-Methods Case Study of Emotional Labor Among Nonprofit Employees During Covid-19", Troth, A.C., Ashkanasy, N.M. and Humphrey, R.H. (Ed.) Emotions During Times of Disruption (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 18), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 15-38.



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