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Beyond Cognition: Affective Leadership and Emotional Labor


Meredith A. Newman is a professor and chair of the Department of Public Administration at Florida International University. Her research focuses on public management, gender and work life issues, administrative theory, and human resource management. She serves as associate editor for special features and international outreach of the Review of Public Personnel Administration and is vice president of the American Society for Public Administration. Prior to joining academia, Newman served with the Australian Foreign Service, the U.S. Department of State, and the World Bank.E-mail:

Mary E. Guy is a professor of public administration in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado Denver. She has published widely on the subject of human capital, public productivity, and human resource management. She is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and past president of the American Society for Public Administration.

Sharon H. Mastracci is an assistant professor of public administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research addresses issues in employment and training policy, gender and labor markets, and human resource management and public management. She is the author of Breaking Out of the Pink-Collar Ghetto: Policy Solutions for Non-College Women (M. E. Sharpe, 2004).


How do the concepts of emotional labor and artful affect translate into our understanding of leadership? Where would one find affective leadership in practice? To address these questions, the workdays of civil servants are examined. Based on interviews and focus groups, the authors set forth in their own words how social workers, 911 operators, corrections officials, detectives, and child guardians experience their work. These interviews reveal the centrality of emotion work in the service exchange and underscore affective leadership in practice. The authors conclude that the most important challenge facing public administrators is not to make work more efficient but to make it more humane and caring. Affective leadership, and recognition of the centrality of emotional labor therein, are the means by which this approach is championed.