Theory and Society

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 383–400 | Cite as

Time orientations and emotion-rules in finance

  • Jocelyn Pixley


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.


Central Bank Mutual Fund Time Orientation Hedge Fund Financial Firm 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to Craig Browne, Norbert Ebert, Michael Pusey, Denise Thompson, and Jens Zinn, to referees for anonymous comments, and to my FRG Research Grant (UNSW 2007).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Global Policy InstituteLondon Metropolitan UniversityLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of SociologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

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