Recent studies on emotional labor address how worker emotional behavior is influenced by and influences organizational routines. To build upon existing theories, this dissertation investigates the determinants and consequences of emotional labor from a perspective on the interaction of self and organization. More specifically, the dissertation offers a model of emotional labor that combines dramaturgical and dispositional approaches. In this model, display rules (the standards for appropriate expression of emotions on the job) and individual/organizational well-being (i.e., emotional exhaustion and service performance) act as the antecedents and consequences of emotional labor respectively. In addition, it posits that there can be mutual influences between organizational settings and personal traits on emotional behavior. Thus, individual differences—including public service motivation and emotional intelligence—are hypothesized to moderate the relationships among the antecedents, dimensions, and consequences of emotional labor.
The data for hypothesis testing were collected by means of self-report survey, developed on the basis of a theoretical analysis of relevant literature. Questionnaires were administered to the Certified Public Manager (CPM) program students who are currently working full-time in service occupations in Florida. Structural equation modeling (SEM) and moderated multiple regression (MMR) analysis were employed to test the proposed model.
Analytical results provided support for hypotheses set forth regarding the determinants and consequences of emotional labor, while the majority of the moderating hypotheses failed to be supported. The findings include: positive display rules (what to express on the job) contribute to more attempts to modify inner feelings to match the required emotional displays. In contrast, negative display rules (what not to express) result in the adjustment of observable emotional expressions to pretend feeling a desired emotion. Also, the increased emotional inauthenticity opens a window for a greater risk of job stress. In addition, more emotive efforts made by employees to approximate the desired emotion lead to better service performance. However, emotional inauthenticity often results in poor service performance. Finally, workers with higher levels of compassion will exert more efforts to comply with organizational rules and norms and report less emotive dissonance when dealing with clients/customers. Besides, commitment to public interest, compassion, and effective emotional regulation contribute to better service performance.
The work advances the understanding of the subtleties of emotional labor in public service roles. Information provided not only reconciles the disputes between the dramaturgical and dispositional approaches of emotional labor, but also allows practitioners to better target their emotion management strategies and limit the potentially harmful consequences to worker health and performance. Findings demonstrate that the attention paid to the tasks performed by employees who work “with heart” to deliver services is of vital importance to enhance public service.