Leading Through an “Emotional Roller Coaster”: The Centrality of Emotion Management in Achieving Sustainable Innovation : A Qualitative Case Study from the Norwegian energy sector
MetadataShow full item record
- Master Thesis 
Organizations are increasingly expected to engage in sustainable innovation to remain competitive, and leadership is essential to this process. Specifically, there is a great need for sustainable innovations in the energy sector as it is currently considered fundamentally unsustainable. Due to the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous nature of the innovation process, leadership is likely to differ from other leadership situations, in that a pivotal function of leadership appears to involve managing emotions during the innovation process. Yet, how multiple innovation leaders engage in emotion management to maintain committed to achieve sustainable innovation represents a nascent field. Thus, we investigate how leaders manage emotions during critical phases of the innovation process to foster commitment to the achievement of sustainable innovations. We conduct an explorative multiple case study, interviewing leaders in four small-to-mediumsized companies in the Norwegian energy sector. Our qualitative analysis first reveals that leadership involves experiencing sudden shifts in emotions that become particularly salient in three distinct transition phases during the innovation management process. Second, the innovation leaders use a set of specific emotion regulation strategies to navigate the “emotional roller coaster” of the innovation process toward a future desirable goal. Finally, overall, innovation leaders manage their own and others’ emotions, based on an overarching hopeful metaemotion driven by their commitment to the achievement of sustainable innovation. Through this study, we contribute to the management innovation literature by illuminating how, surprisingly, despite experiencing the innovation phases as an “emotional roller coaster”, leaders manage these emotions overall through an overarching metaemotion. In conjunction with specific emotion regulation strategies, which we also identified that the leaders applied during critical phases of the innovation management process, we specifically find that the metaemotion allows innovation leaders to stay committed to the achievement of sustainable innovation.