Time orientations and emotion-rules in finance

Jocelyn Pixley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores how Anglo-American financial firms since the 1980s have operated and acted in an increasingly deregulated, risky, and uncertain arena. I look at these firms and their actions with a particular focus on "temporality" and requisite "emotion-rules," where variations in emotion-rules correspond with organizational definitions of uncertainty. Firms impose specific emotion-rules, depending on national policies, official duties, and interpretations of each risk. In finance, caveat emptor (i.e., buyer or lender distrust) is an emotion-rule set in screening policies and data collection for credit risks and risks of fraud by personnel, and it gives rise to actual emotions. I argue that three time-orientations are significant in creating emotion-rules. If a past, present, or a long-term future is deployed to construct a future, that creates and frames an institution's attempts to manage uncertainty. Looking exclusively at Anglo-American corporate finance policies and strategies (often deemed the international "one best way"), six modes of certainty constructions are presented. Each is assessed against the dispositions and emotional strategies required in highly-skilled careers, in specific organizational settings. The relative influence of individual perspectives, institutional rules and general typologies of social action is assessed and found to comprise one past view, three present views, and one future-oriented perspective towards the future. Implications are outlined for emotion-rules relevant to financial careers and office.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-400
Number of pages18
JournalTheory and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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