The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence within a Company Context : A multiple case study exploring the dark side of emotional intelligence within Swedish companies
Abstract: Background:The society of the 21st century is shaped by a highly competitive environment and a vast amount of uncertainties. To stay competitive and up to date, people must manage other people and their emotions with excellence. Emotional intelligence (EI) has been described as a key function in managing people successfully within companies of today's society. Existing research within the field of the phenomenon has mostly been focusing on the fruitfulness as follows by EI taking place within a company context. However, some researchers argue for the other side of the coin, where the usage of EI may harm people. This area is introduced as the dark side of EI which takes form through emotional manipulation. As emotional manipulation is argued to be present within a company context, it becomes important to investigate how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people within a company context. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore how the dark side of EI manifests and affects people within a company context. Method: To fulfil the purpose of this study being of exploratory nature, a qualitative research methodology was employed. The empirical data was collected through semi- structured interviews held with people of various positions within four large Swedish companies. The data has been analysed and interpreted using a general inductive research approach incorporating thematic analysis. Conclusion:This study shows that the dark side of EI exists within a company context. Findings imply the manifestation to start within the top management followed by a hierarchical domino effect throughout the hierarchical levels within the company and is highly dependent on leadership influence. The dark side of EI does not solely manifests in the non-prosocial side of EI, it also appears to manifest within an intermediate zone between prosocial and non-prosocial. The manifestation takes form through gamification techniques being identified as social-, tactic-, and run one over games. People got affected by the manifestation in terms of emotional distance and decreased motivation. Importantly, the degree in which people got affected varied depending on individual concentrations of EI competencies, self- confidence, assertiveness, and familiarity with the individual or the group as explained in the Spectrum Framework from EI to the Dark side of EI created within this research.
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