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Heated Atmosphere: Organizational emotions and field structuring in online climate change debate


Dr. Lianne Lefsrud, P.Eng. is an Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Lynch School of Engineering Safety and Risk Management, at the University of Alberta.  She has her PhD in Strategic Management and Organization, MSc in Environmental Engineering & Sociology, and BSc in Civil Engineering. She uses various methods to examine hazard identification, risk management and evaluation, and technology adoption. Specifically, she has used topic/sentiment analysis on media discussions about resource development, network analysis to understand online climate change debate, neural networks to predict fracking impacts in China and mining incidents, and bibilometrics to examine the creation/flow of knowledge networks. In the past five years she has received over $2.6 million in funding (as PI or co-PI) and has authored over 60 articles, chapters, reports, and practice standards. For more, see her website: and Twitter: @lefsrud.



Emotional expressions can affect the positioning of organizations within the field and how they define, debate, and address controversial issues such as climate change. We ask: How do framings, values, and emotion affect the structure of an organizational issue field? We answer our research question by synthesizing theories of fields, structuring, and emotion. By completing a network analysis of the online climate change debate, we find that organizations are most likely to link to other organizations expressing similar emotions – resembling organizational emotional entrainment. Expressed emotions influence organizations’ positions in an organizational issue field even beyond cognitive framings like issue stance, values like moral worldviews, and typical in-group clusterings like organizational type or political orientation.


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