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Purpose: Emotions have a pervasive, predictable, sometimes deleterious but other times instrumental effect on decision making. Yet the influence of emotions on educational leaders’ decision making has been largely underexplored. To optimize educational leaders’ decision making, this article builds on the prevailing data-driven decision-making approach, and proposes an organizing framework of educational leaders’ emotions in decision making by drawing on converging empirical evidence from multiple disciplines (e.g., administrative science, psychology, behavioral economics, cognitive neuroscience, and neuroeconomics) intersecting emotions, decision making, and organizational behavior. Proposed Framework: The proposed organizing framework of educational leaders’ emotions in decision making includes four core propositions: (1) decisions are the outcomes of the interactions between emotions and cognition; (2) at the moment of decision making, emotions have a pervasive, predictable impact on decision making; (3) before making decisions, leaders’ individual differences (e.g., trait affect and power) and organizational contexts (e.g., organizational justice and emotional contagion) have a bearing on leaders’ emotions and decision making; and (4) postdecision behavioral responses trigger more emotions (e.g., regret, guilt, and shame) which, in turn, influence the next cycle of decision-making process. Implications: The proposed framework calls for not only an intensified scholarly inquiry into educational leaders’ emotions and decision making but also an adequate training on emotions in school leadership preparation programs and professional development.


Accepted manuscript version of an article published by Sage publishing in:

Wang, Y. (2021). What is the role of emotions in educational leaders’ decision making? Proposing an organizing framework. Educational Administration Quarterly, 57(3), 372-402. 10.1177/0013161X20938856.