University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 30.6.2017 Lic.Sc. (Econ) Tiina Martelius-Louniala (The Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, Management)

Start date: Jun 30, 2017 12:00 PM

End date: Jun 30, 2017 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, Old festival room, S212

Lic.Sc. (Econ) Tiina Martelius-Louniala defends her doctoral dissertation in Management ”Siinä pitää olla vähä teflonii. Tunnekokemuksia johtajana irtisanomistilanteessa” (You do need to develop a non-stick surface. Leaders’ emotional experiences in severance situations). Opponent  Professor Arja Ropo (University of Tampere) and custos Professor Anna-Maija Lämsä (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held in Finnish.


The world of leadership has often been considered a callous world characterized at best only by masculine feelings, such as aggressiveness. In addition, leadership has traditionally been considered an influential skill of individuals. In this study, leadership was examined as a socially constructed phenomenon that develops as a result of interaction between leaders and their subordinates and that cannot be separated from the framework in which it takes place.

The target phenomena in the present study were leaders’ emotional experiences related to those who were being dismissed. The main research task was to conduct an empirical study on leaders’ experiences as parties giving notices and analyse their leader relationship to those being made redundant. The research target was approached by means of empirical hermeneutics, and the method of data collection was an in-depth interview. As its theoretical contribution, the study is hoped to generate new understanding of leaders’ emotional experiences in severance situations as well as to further extend Ladkin’s (2010) Leadership Moment – theory by adding an emotional perspective to it. The practical contributions are reflections on what kinds of feelings leaders have and what kinds of means of emotion work help them to cope with their task as parties giving notices.

The results of the study support the notion that leaders use emotions in their work both bodily and verbally and that emotions have a significant role in the leadership moment experiences. According to the author’s interpretation, a leader’s emotional experience changes dynamically along with the change of the framework in a severance situation and with the meaning relationships alternating between distance and closeness, showing and concealing emotions as well as between caring and justice. The meaning relationships are not independent of one another. Instead, they are interconnected and form an entity giving rise to a leadership moment of emotional experience. The study shows, however, that leaders often have a need to conceal their emotions in a severance situation in order to avoid an experience of leadership failure. In addition, the study supports the notions that leaders’ emotional experiences are gender-based also in severance situations. Female leaders tended to consider using and showing emotions more natural, but they had a greater need to control their emotions than men did. According to the experiences of male leaders, visible emotions were a sign of successful leadership, which was why they did not have a great need to conceal their emotions.

The results of the study show that the emotional perspective should be integrated into Ladkin’s (2010) Leadership Moment – theory more deeply than what has been customary thus far. 

Keywords: Leadership, Emotion, Gender, Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Dismissal, Downsizing, the Lifeworld

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Tiina Martelius-Louniala
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