Emotions careers: The interplay between careers and emotions in professional organisations

Stefanie Gustafsson, Dan Karreman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite recognising the importance of emotions for careers, researchers rarely explore how career-related practices invoke emotions and the implications for professionals’ career aspirations and behaviours. Drawing on 50 interviews with lawyers on the partner track and human resource (HR) professionals, we develop the concept of an emotions career. The emotions career consists of four stages, each characterised by different primary emotions and socio-emotional dynamics. We find that career practices and social interactions elicit emotions that regulate professionals’ career aspirations and trajectories. Thus, professionals become emotionally invested in their careers, which in turn contributes to the maintenance of existing career systems. To better support professionals, we suggest that HR practitioners develop greater awareness of the emotional dynamics associated with careers and engage in career conversations, while organisational leaders should, collectively, consider ways to challenge negative perceptions of alternative career paths, generating more diverse thinking about careers.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Resource Management Journal
Early online date3 Nov 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Nov 2023


  • career
  • emotion
  • law
  • partnership
  • profession

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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