Emotional leader communication in the digital age: An experimental investigation on the role of emoji

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Liegl, S., & Furtner, M. (2024). Emotional leader communication in the digital age: An experimental investigation on the role of emoji. Computers in Human Behavior, 154, 108148. (ABDC_2022: A; ABS_2021: 2)

Publication type

Article in Scientific Journal


The rapid pace of digitalization in the workplace confronts leaders and followers with the demand to get accustomed to digital ways of communication. The prevalent digital media platforms, like e-mail and messenger services, however, are less broad in informational depth, omitting nonverbal cues and usually adopting a more stifled and factual tonality. This constitutes a substantial challenge for leaders, as the transferal of emotions, mostly driven by a message's nonverbal delivery, constitutes one of the key pathways for their effectiveness. Quasi-nonverbal signals, like emoji, could be a means to re-enrich written leader communication with affect. We conducted two experiments to gain insights into the benefits and risks of emoji in leader communication. Our findings reveal the potential of positive emoji to enhance followers' ascriptions of desirable leader attributes, approval of the leader, and their other-regarding behaviour, however only in certain organizational contexts. Conversely, negative emoji substantially undermined the leader's standing, leading to various undesirable outcomes. Our findings thus allow for inferences on how followers will likely react to specific quasi-nonverbal displays and provide leaders with recommendations for adapting their affective signalling to elicit desired responses.


Affective Signalling in the Digital Workplace
FFF-Förderprojekt, January 2022 until December 2023

Digitalization affected our globalized world for quite some time, posing increasingly wide-ranging affordances to individuals and organizations alike. Yet, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted this ... more ...


Organizational Units

  • Liechtenstein Business School
  • Entrepreneurship & Leadership

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