OEI, Employee Attitudes, and Organizational Performance

Given the relatively under developed state of research in OEI, only a few authors have undertaken empirical research in the link between OEI and critical organizational outcomes, such as employee attitudes and behavior, and organizational performance.

In a study of 73 managers in eight UK organizations, Batchelor and Dulewicz (2008) found that OEI (measured by the Organizational Climate Questionnaire, OCQ) had a significant confounding effect on the individual attitude of follower commitment and leadership performance, after accounting for the impact of individual emotional intelligence. Using the OEIQ-21, which is based on the OCQ (Batchelor & Dulewicz, 2008), Da Camara (2013) found that OEI is a strong predictor of organizational emotional appeal and trust in senior management, beyond the impact of psychological climate in job, role and direct leader domains. In addition, Da Camara (2013) found that the relationship between OEI and intention to leave was mediated by organizational emotional appeal (i.e., overall reputation) in three organizations in the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors.

In addition, Huy’s (1999) theory of organizational Emotional Capability provides theoretical support for the operation of Emotional Dynamics, which include Identification processes whereby members express their deep attachment to the organization, and Encouragement, which reflects an organization’s ability to instill hope in its members, often through motivating actions by leaders. We therefore suggest that OEI has the ability to influence employee feelings and attitudes toward their work and organization, such as job satisfaction and affective commitment.

In an extension of Goleman’s (1998) work on emotional competencies, Gowing et al. (2006, p. 259) claim that organizations which are high in EI are most effective “in terms of such variables as customer service, employee satisfaction, and employee commitment, thus resulting in significant cost savings to the organization over time from repeat customer business and reduced turnover.” Empirical support for these propositions is provided by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) psychologists who find that the Organizational Assessment Survey (OAS) items correlate with a number of other indexes on stress, business results, employee satisfaction and customer service (Gowing et al., 2006, p. 264). As Gowing et al. (2006, p. 264) state, although correlational studies are useful to postulate hypotheses among variables, causal studies should also play an important role in the practitioner’s research agenda to advance our scientific knowledge of the role of EI as the individual, team, and organizational levels in creating high-performance organizations. Thus, Gowing et al. (2006) provide clear evidence of a positive relationship between EI competencies at the organizational level and employee satisfaction and commitment.

Strong evidence of OEI’s link with organizational performance is provided by Menges and Bruch (2009) who find that the level of collective EI in organizations is positively associated with operational, financial, and innovation performance, and negatively associated with involuntary absence.4 This is a key finding in the nascent field of OEI research, particularly as it draws from such a wide sample of organizations. Specifically, Menges and Bruch (2009) find evidence of a significant and positive relationship between aggregated values of supervisors’ EI (as rated by their direct reports), using an ability based measure, and organizational performance. As Menges and Bruch (2009) explain, the other report mode of supervisor EI actually measures the EI that is expressed in the supervisor — direct report relationship and is therefore very likely to be influenced by the organizational climate and its prevailing shared norms and practices. In this sense, Menges and Bruch (2009) provide support for the relationship between organizational performance and OEI as both a collective and organizational phenomenon. Of course, Menges and Bruch (2009) do not test the role of mediators in the relationship between OEI and performance, but drawing from the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) we suggest that supervisor EI and EI-related norms and shared behaviors in the organization influence employee attitudes and intentions which then lead to performance improvements.

Although empirical research in the relationship between OEI and important organizational outcomes has been relatively limited, researchers have provided evidence of its relationship with employee attitudes and follower performance (Batchelor & Dulewicz, 2008; Da Camara, 2013; Gowing et al., 2006; Menges & Bruch, 2009). We therefore propose the following hypotheses:

H1. There is a positive relationship between organizational emotional intelligence and affective commitment.

H2. There is a positive relationship between organizational emotional intelligence and job satisfaction.

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