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North Castle Books

Emotional Labor and Crisis Response: Working on the Razor's Edge
Authored by: Sharon H. Mastracci; Mary E. Guy; Meredith A. Newman

Best Book Award, Public and Nonprofit Division, Academy of Management
Best Book Award in Human Resource Management Research, Section on Personnel Administration and Labor Relations, American Society for Public Administration

Cloth ISBN: 978-0-7656-2518-2 Paper ISBN: 978-0-7656-2519-9
Cloth Price Paper Price
USD: $88.95 USD: $36.95
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Available to all countries
Information: 192pp. Figure, references, index.
Publication Date: August 2011.  


Description: The authors of the award-winning Emotional Labor now investigate how that book's concepts are actually applied in public service delivery, focusing on crisis responders who work in the most emotionally demanding situations.

Emotional Labor and Crisis Response goes inside the stressful world of suicide, rape, and domestic hotline workers, EMTs, triage nurses, and agency/department spokespersons who are the initial faces of the organization and who deal with the public immediately following crises.

The authors explore how these public servants interpret unwritten "feeling rules," and how they integrate them into the execution of their duties in crisis situations. In an instant, and faced with panicked and traumatized victims, how do they size up a situation and decide how to proceed? How do they establish trust and elicit cooperation? How do they perceive their roles as representatives of the state, yet also as fellow citizens working under extreme pressure?

Their stories provide powerful insights into the nature of emotional labor and its role in public service.

Selected Contents:

Foreword, Janet V. Denhardt and Robert B. Denhardt

1. Emotional Labor as Public Good and the State as Harbor of Refuge
Emotional Labor: What, How, and Why
The Role of the State: Providing Public Goods and Services
The Contested State
The Harbor of Refuge
Summary: Let's Set Sail

2. A Blind Spot in Public Administration Theory . . . But Not in Practice (still)
Emotional Labor: What It Is Not
Emotional Labor: What It Is
How Emotional Labor Is Performed
The Upside of Emotional Labor
The Downside of Emotional Labor
How the Parts Fit Together

3. Human Capital Issues
Strategies for Dealing with the Downside
Traits to Look For When Hiring Emotional Laborers
Training and Supervision

4. Communicating Competence and Cultivating Trust
Public Information Officers as the "Voice" of Government
Managing the Media: The Role of the Press Conference
Ongoing Agency Communications

5. Who Gets the Blame? Who Gets the Credit? Government Responsiveness and Accountability
First Responders' Burden as the "Face" of Government
Accountability and Crisis Response
Accountability to Whom?
How Workers Reconcile Conflicting Accountabilities
Measuring Accountability: A Moving Target
Managing Expectations

6. Of the People: Legitimacy, Representativeness, and the Difference That Gender Makes
How Gender Affects Emotive Aspects of Crisis Response
Questions That Beg to Be Answered

7. Professional Standards and Discretion in Crisis Response
The Debate on Discretion
Crisis Response as Identity, Vocation, and Family Tradition
Pulling Rank: The Command-and-Control Structure of Crisis Response
Exercising Discretion in Crisis Response
Emotional Labor, Professional Norms, and the Exercise of Discretion

8. Reflections on the "Why," "How," and "What" of Emotional Labor
Reflections on the "What" of Emotional Labor
Further Reflections

Appendix A. Evidentiary Proceedings
Appendix B. Interview Protocol
About the Authors

Comment(s): "This groundbreaking book contributes significantly and innovatively to public management theory. The concept of emotional labor encourages the field of public administration to make a major, necessary shift in how we think about the nature of public employment. The authors do a superb job of demonstrating, through the experiences of public servants, that not only cognitive but also affective abilities are critical for effective job performance in the public sector. Their research is extraordinarily insightful, and their writing is impeccable. This book should be required reading in every public administration program." -- Norma M. Riccucci, Rutgers University, Newark

"Listen to teachers, EMTs, police officers, social workers, 911 call takers--to all who work on the front lines of public services--and you will hear stories of emotional labor: of the emotional demands and toll of their work; of how they use their emotions to soothe, inspire, and even intimidate others. Building on their earlier book, Emotional Labor: Putting the Service in Public Service, Mastracci, Newman, and Guy provide in their new book a clear examination of this core issue in public administration and policy. This work changes the way we think about our field." -- Steven Maynard-Moody, University of Kansas

Review(s): "This book fills an important gap in understanding the centrality of emotional labor to public sector work, its implications for public administration, and the challenges that it presents for managing human resources. ... The authors offer a lens for examining public sector organizational life from which scholars, public managers, human resource professionals, and even workers themselves can benefit." -- Public Administration Review

"...presents a rare, but remarkably practical, view of public service work. Vivid cases and personal narratives derived from real crisis responders allow readers to vicariously experience the emotional vitality and incidents that occur around those who work on the razor's edge. Although emotional labor is so obvious and essential to quality public service, little has been known about how public servants size up a situation that requires emotional display and determine how to act on that analysis. This research is the missing piece in theory we have been looking for. This invaluable book presents a rich source of practical guidance for effective exercise of emotional labor despite its emphasis on crisis response jobs. Emotional Labor and Crisis Response lays before us the wisdom that leads to better service competency and performance and should be a must-read for all public management scholars and students." -- International Review of Public Administration

"The authors have taken a complex topic and made it very 'readable.' ... The authors have clearly articulated the notion of emotional labor and have aptly applied it to public safety." -- American Review of Public Administration

"Full of incredibly vivid examples, this compelling book employs a useful and often overlooked microlens on this difficult component of public service. This is a fascinating book that can indeed be used at the undergraduate level because of the accessible narratives. However, its real value would be in courses or sections on public service motivation, leadership, and emotional intelligence ... It should be required readings in public policy, management, and administration courses to better understand the front lines of any agency or department. And finally, it would work well in a qualitative methods course to demonstrate the value of using lengthy narrative to convey complex ideas. It would also expose students to a better understanding of grounded theory and how practitioners and participants can guide scholars in the pursuit of theory. But, beyond all the scholarly uses of the book, it is quite simply, a riveting read." -- Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory

"This body of research and this book are relevant to public administration because their premise serves to improve public administration and better equip our public sector employees in public service delivery. This trio of authors raises questions suitable for further research in the areas of motivation, leadership, ethics and emotional intelligence as well. In sum, this book is one that should be required reading in many public administration graduate level courses." -- Public Voices

"Emotional labor in a crisis involves sensing what the victim is feeling, analyzing one's own emotional state, and responding appropriately in the context. This is a challenging issues in a fire, an earthquake, a traffic accident. The book--which is very well-written and engaging--includes examples that illustrate the emotional labor required in many of these crises." -- Natural Hazards Observer

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