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Why do you feel stressed in a “smile factory”? Hospitality job characteristics influence work–family conflict and job stress

Xinyuan (Roy) Zhao (Department of Hospitality and Service Management, Business School, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China)
Richard Ghiselli (The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 8 February 2016




This study aims to theoretically construct the role of hospitality job characteristics (HJCs), conceptually identify specific HJCs and empirically examine the relationships of these to work–family conflict and job stress. Hospitality employees work in a “smile factory” – often under stress.


Data were collected from 346 hotel employees in China and analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM) and a series of hierarchical regression analyses (HRA).


The SEM results confirmed the general role of HJCs as a job stressor, and the HRA findings differentiated the specific impacts of the characteristics on work–family conflict and job stress.

Research limitations/implications

The survey was cross-sectional and correlational in nature. Furthermore, the results were also from selected hotels, and the respondents do not fully represent all hotel employees. Finally, the measures of hospitality job uniqueness were employees’ subjective agreement on the given statements.

Practical implications

The study offers a systematic framework of specific job characteristics in the hospitality context for the reconciliation of previously inconsistent research findings. The findings may also be useful to hospitality managers as they attempt to analyze and understand the specific job characteristics that are the most salient reasons for withdrawal attitudes and behaviors.


The present study identified the list of HJCs by summarizing previous studies and examining the roles of HJCs in work attitudes among hospitality employees. These efforts could be helpful both for scholars by constructing a consistent base for future research and for managers by precisely analyzing the specific job attributes.



The authors are grateful for the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71102097), Natural Science Foundation of Guangdong (2014A030313177), and China Scholarship Council (201406385055).


Zhao, X.(R). and Ghiselli, R. (2016), "Why do you feel stressed in a “smile factory”? Hospitality job characteristics influence work–family conflict and job stress", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 305-326.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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