The signal provision of emotion: Using emotions to enhance reliability via sensemaking

Joseph A. Allen, Cliff W. Scott, Sarah Tracy, John D. Crowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


High reliability organisation (HRO) theory suggests that early detection of and swift responses to potentially hazardous and situation changing events in organisational environments is central to the sustainability of reliable operations. Limited research on HROs (e.g., military groups and firefighters) considers how normative demands on feeling and emotion help to explain why some events are recognised and responded to while others not. In this article, we propose a model of enactment of anomalous events (i.e., situation changing events) that considers the manner in which emotions are regulated in high reliability contexts and how this influences the extent to which early indicators of anomalous events are heeded or dismissed. In this article, we seek to provide a theoretical framework for explaining both the enabling mechanisms by which emotions may function as a signalling resource in the detection of anomalous events and the constraining mechanisms through when emotion regulation processes may inhibit reliability. We discuss implications of the model for researchers and practitioners in high reliability organisations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)240-260
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014


  • Emotion regulation
  • High reliability organising
  • Sensemaking
  • Signal function of emotion
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


Dive into the research topics of 'The signal provision of emotion: Using emotions to enhance reliability via sensemaking'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this