Work intensification and emotional labour among UK university lecturers: An exploratory study

Emmanuel Ogbonna, Lloyd C. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Until the early 1980s relatively little research interest was devoted to the concept of emotional labour in organizational settings. Although it is now acknowledged that emotional labour is present at different hierarchical levels and among many occupational groups, no study has explored the issue of emotional labour in the context of work intensification among professional groups. This article presents evidence derived from interviews with university lecturers to assess (1) the frequency and propensity of emotional labour and the extent to which emotional labour is increasingly becoming part of the work of university lecturers, (2) the extent to which such emotional labour is derived from the intensifying changes to the work environment of university lecturers, and (3) the positive and negative consequences of such emotional labour and work intensification. The article finds evidence of emotional labouring among university lecturers. It is argued that the increase in such emotional labouring is largely a result of the heightened intensification of the academic labour process, which is exacerbated by the multiple and sometimes conflicting demands of various stakeholders. The effects of such emotional labour included both positive and negative consequences. These findings lead to a discussion of a series of implications and conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1185-1203
Number of pages19
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2004


  • Academic labour process
  • Emotional labour
  • Expectations
  • Job satisfaction
  • University lecturers
  • Work intensification


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