Academic journal article Advances in Management

Influence of Emotional Labor and Emotional Intelligence on Service Sabotage

Academic journal article Advances in Management

Influence of Emotional Labor and Emotional Intelligence on Service Sabotage

Article excerpt


In the service industry, products cannot be given to customers to experience, feel or touch beforehand. As soon as the product is presented to the customer, the verdict on service quality will be given. From the perspective of marketing in the service industry, the conventional marketing mix (the 4Ps of marketing) can be used to convey customer value; aside from this, researchers have indicated that physical evidence, process and people also influence the capacity of service providers to satisfy their customers3. Among these three factors, physical evidence can be displayed using tangibles such as service facilities, employee uniforms and price lists to give customers more cues regarding the intangible services. Process means using clear SOPs and solid staff training to achieve consistency and professionalism, both of which help managers prevent managerial issues2.

In contrast, people are full of inconsistencies; service standards may vary with the service environment, the service provider, or the service targets. In the service industry, a large portion of service errors are attributed to the negligence of the service personnel such as slow and inefficient service processes and delayed responses or ignorance of customer needs35. Such errors increase customer complaint rates and lead to negative word-of-mouth28-37-50 and severe instances can result in reduced loyalty and loss of customer lifetime value and threaten a firm's survival in the long term41-47-52-46.

When service providers perform more poorly than customers expect, make errors that customers deem to be major, and are thus regarded as unreliable by customers, it can be considered a service failure44. Past studies have confirmed that service failures are associated with customer satisfaction and loyalty and emphasized the importance of service recovery26-45. However, when the service failure is caused by something that the service provider can control, it will result in even lower satisfaction and lessen the effects of the service provider's recovery measures3-20. Clearly, if customers find that a service failure is deliberate, they will not be satisfied, no matter what service recovery measures are taken and ultimately the loss of customers will incur substantial losses for firm operations in the long-term. Service sabotage refers to the service failures deliberately made by employees17.

Research has shown a close relationship among emotional intelligence, emotional labor, and service sabotage33. Emotional labor refers to the efforts made by employees to display certain emotions and expressions as required specifically or implied by their organization. For instance, employers may require their employees to act friendly, positive, empathetic and warm when they provide services to customers and the employees may have to purposively enhance, pretend, or suppress their emotions to meet organizational expectations.

Emotional labor is generally divided into surface acting which involves displaying emotions different from real emotions that are disguised or concealed and deep acting which involves employees persuading themselves to make an effort to understand or empathize with customers1,8,24. Emotional intelligence has been proven to promote the effective management of emotional labor; it helps employees identify and understand the emotional states of themselves and others while at work and enables employees to manage emotional needs more efficiently which in turn reduces the occupational burnout and service sabotage behavior that emotional labor may cause11,36,39.

To sum up previous research, emotional intelligence can effectively regulate emotional labor and reduce occupational burnout and service sabotage. We therefore employed an experimental design to examine the influence of interactions between surface/deep acting and high/low emotional intelligence on service sabotage behavior to provide managers with relevant reference. …

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