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Essential precursors and effects of employee creativity in a service context: Emotional labor strategies and official job performance

Inyong Shin (Korea University Business School, Seoul, South Korea)
Won-Moo Hur (School of Business Administration, Pukyung National University, Busan, South Korea)
Hongseok Oh (School of Business, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 9 November 2015




The purpose of this paper is to examine how the emotional labor strategies of service employees differently influence the level of their creativity, and whether creative employees consequently benefit from that creativity in terms of achieving a high level of job performance.


The authors surveyed flight attendants from an airline in South Korea. The authors distributed 150 questionnaires to flight attendants, received 126 responses, and finally obtained 119 usable data. The authors used Mplus 7.13 to evaluate validity and test the hypotheses.


Whereas employees using deep acting were found to be less emotionally exhausted and more affectively committed toward their organization, which produced a high level of creativity, those who selected surface acting were shown to suffer more emotional exhaustion and have less affective commitment, which generated a low level of creativity. Customer service personnel behaving creatively resulted in superior official job performance appraisals.


This study makes distinct contributions to the literature by proposing emotional labor as the key antecedent of employee creativity in service organizations, by confirming emotional exhaustion and affective commitment as the motivational mechanisms through which emotional labor strategies influence service employee creativity, and by suggesting the value of employee creativity.



This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2015S1A5A2A01012303).


Shin, I., Hur, W.-M. and Oh, H. (2015), "Essential precursors and effects of employee creativity in a service context: Emotional labor strategies and official job performance", Career Development International, Vol. 20 No. 7, pp. 733-752.



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