Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Emotional Labor and Adaptive Selling Behavior on Job Performance

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effects of Emotional Labor and Adaptive Selling Behavior on Job Performance

Article excerpt

In the service industry, front line staff play a significant role in satisfying customers' expectations. The provision of customized products or services and the demonstration of appropriate gestures and expressions in a desirable way both necessitate highly qualified employees with both fundamental work skills and emotional intelligence (Gwinner, Bitner, Brown, & Kumar, 2005). In addition, during the process of service delivery, service quality itself varies due to the characteristics of intangibility, inseparability of production and consumption, and heterogeneity of service (Zeithaml, Parasuraman, & Berry, 1985). Therefore, it is necessary to understand the emotions experienced by employees during customer interactions in order to maintain or improve employees' job performance.

In her seminal work, Hochschild (1983) demonstrated the commercialization of the perception that employees in "people work" occupations are engaged in emotional labor. Grandey (2000) reviewed and compared previous views of emotional labor (e.g., Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Hochschild, 1983; Morris & Feldman, 1996) and defined it as "the process of regulating both feelings and expression for the organizational goals" (p. 97). On the basis of Goffman's (1959) dramaturgical view of interactants as actors concerned with appearance, surface acting and deep acting are two complementary strategies that are frequently used to show appropriate emotions (Grandey, 2003). Although both forms of acting are inherently false and involve effort (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993), they represent different intentions. Whereas in surface acting, employees change their external behavior to express the required emotions, deep acting involves trying to create these emotions within themselves (Hennig-Thurau, Groth, Paul, & Gremler, 2006). Hochschild initially proposed that emotional labor requires physical or mental tools and adversely influences employees' satisfaction and well-being. Since then, other researchers (Bhave & Glomb, 2013; Grandey, 2000; Hülsheger & Schewe, 2011; Kim, 2008) have reported mixed findings on the association between emotional labor and its outcomes (e.g., job performance), with one possible explanation being the different approaches used to study emotional labor (Grandey, Diefendorff, & Rupp, 2013). However, there is still a missing link in that surface acting and deep acting may influence job performance in two totally opposite directions; we addressed this gap in our study by introducing the concept of adaptive selling behavior.

The definition of adaptive selling behavior is "the altering of sales behaviors during a customer interaction or across customer interactions based on perceived information about the nature of the selling situation" (Weitz, Sujan, & Sujan, 1986, p. 175). The underlying assumption is that there is no single best approach to selling; rather, the different characteristics of the prospective customer and situation should influence the choice and implementation of a sales strategy (Román & Iacobucci, 2010). In particular, the practice of adaptive selling includes adjustment during the sales presentation to maximize customer satisfaction, solve customer issues, overcome opposition, and act on new opportunities that arise (Spiro & Weitz, 1990; Weitz et al., 1986).

In this paper, we have, for the first time, linked the concepts of emotional labor and adaptive selling behavior to simultaneously investigate their influence on job performance as well as the relationship between them. The application of both surface and deep acting as emotion management tools will enable the separation of their effects on adaptive selling behavior and job performance. As in the real-world context of salespersons' interactions with customers, surface acting and deep acting coexist during the selling process.

Literature Review and Hypotheses Development

Emotional Labor

Hochschild (1983) compared service to a show, the service employee to the actor, the customer to the audience, and the work setting to the stage (see also Chu, Baker, & Murrmann, 2012). …

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