That unwanted feeling:a psychodynamic study of disappointment in organizations


Clancy, A., Vince, R. and Gabriel, Y., 2012. That unwanted feeling:a psychodynamic study of disappointment in organizations. British Journal of Management, 23 (4), pp. 518-531.

Related documents:

PDF (Author's accepted version) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (358kB) | Preview

    Official URL:

    Related URLs:


    This paper explores the emotion of disappointment in organizations and develops a new line of theorizing inspired by psychoanalytic object-relations theory. Existing literature frames disappointment as a threat to organizational effectiveness, as both a response and an anticipation of failure and as an emotion that needs to be managed in order to prevent it from damaging organizational morale and performance. This only captures part of the complexity of disappointment and leaves unexplored its potential contribution to organizational and individual learning and even creativity. The paper develops a theoretical framework which depicts disappointment in three configurations or positions, and it establishes the potential of disappointment acting as an integrative emotion within organizations. The framework accounts for an apparent contradiction in organizational members' experience of disappointment – that it is, at the same time, seen as ‘of little concern’ to individuals, and yet viewed as capable of undermining stability and destroying positive feelings. The paper shows how disappointment is connected to the dynamics of blame in organizations but, when fully appreciated, can offer a way of moving beyond these dynamics by recognizing partial failure within an organization and turning it into the basis for organizational learning.


    Item Type Articles
    CreatorsClancy, A., Vince, R. and Gabriel, Y.
    Related URLs
    URLURL Type
    DepartmentsSchool of Management
    Publisher StatementVince_BJoM_2012_23_4_518.pdf: The definitive version is available at
    ID Code26455


    Actions (login required)

    View Item

    Document Downloads

    More statistics for this item...