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Fear, anxiety can drive firms to the wall

3 November 2016
Organisations are emotional arenas
Ambitious corporate incentive schemes and performance goals can cause anxiety among employees, leading to a negative impact on productivity.

Research highlights: Numbers have feelings too

Professor Wai Fong Chua believes there is considerable fear and anxiety in today’s companies, especially those experiencing financial challenges.

When thinking about how quickly organisations downsize or outsource as solutions to internal problems, it’s understandable that managers and staff can react adversely to what financial systems were set up to achieve. As fear becomes dominant, employees can become so afraid of production goals that they may not provide truthful information to their employers.

Professor Chua’s research confirms the need to better understand "affective technologies" – processes, information systems and performance/financial goals that have an emotional impact and economic consequences.

Take, for example, a billion-dollar revenue target that is to be achieved within 18 months. This tends to produce an affective outcome. It could be anxiety, it could be fear, it could be excitement, it could be all of these things and that, in turn, affects the way people work in an organisation.
Professor Wai Fong Chua

Published work

Boedker C and Chua W 2013 'Accounting as an Affective Technology: a Study of Circulation, Agency and Entrancement', Accounting, Organizations and Society, vol.38:4, pp. 245-67