An investigation into the influences of emotional labour of holiday representatives

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Emotional labour occurs when employees manage their emotions during service interactions in line with particular organisational display rules. ‘Service with a smile’ is an example of such a role requirement which can lead to the overall organisational success as showing positive emotions influence customers’ intention to return and positive reviews. This makes emotional labour a crucial element in the service sector including in the context of tour operators. The focus of this thesis is the UK tour operating industry and specifically, the package holiday market where research and the understanding of emotional labour is still limited. This study thus addresses this gap by researching the holiday representatives. At the same time, the way in which employees engage in emotional labour is influenced by various factors, which however, are still poorly understood. Therefore, this gap is also addressed through the aim of this study by expanding the knowledge on how various workplace factors influence holiday representatives’ emotional labour. The empirical data was collected using semi-structured interviews with participants working as overseas holiday representatives for British tour operators. Rich data was obtained regarding their emotional labour experiences and their opinions on how various influences had a role in shaping these. Snowball sampling, snowball sampling using social networking sites such as LinkedIn, and self-selection sampling were used to recruit the participants. Data was further analysed by adopting a thematic analysis using MAXQDA. The findings revealed that emotional labour in this role is multi-faceted which occurs not only with customers, but also with other parties in the workplace such as colleagues, managers and suppliers. Also, the workplace and its various components are the most influential factors for the holiday representatives’ emotional labour. These influences are often overlooked by organisations, but are crucially important for holiday representatives and their behaviour. A new framework for the influences in this context has been developed which divided these in work-environment influences with context-specific factors, customer related influences, and individual influences. This research contributes towards a more holistic view of emotional labour by providing a stakeholder approach towards its understanding, by considering all emotion regulation strategies such as surface acting, deep acting, natural felt emotions and emotional deviance and by considering both positive and negative workplace events as influences. It also introduces the concepts of ‘concomitant emotional labour’ and ‘variable emotional labour’ in the context of holiday representatives. This study also has implications to methodology by adopting a qualitative approach. Future research should focus on a more holistic approach in understanding emotional labour and build on the framework of influences developed in this thesis.

    Date of Award2017
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Sheffield Hallam University

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