This study aims to examine how workplace incivility (i.e. coworker and customer incivility) affects service employees’ creativity, specifically the way emotional exhaustion at work decreases their intrinsic motivation, and, in turn, damages service employees’ creativity. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to show the mechanism by which both coworker and customer incivility at work affects service employee creativity.
Service employees from a hotel in South Korea were surveyed using a self-administered instrument for data collection. Out of 450 questionnaires, a total of 281 usable questionnaires were obtained after list-wise deletion, for a 62.4 per cent response rate. Structural equation modeling analysis provided support for the hypotheses.
The results indicate a serial multiple mediator model in which both coworker and customer incivility increase service employees’ emotional exhaustion, which, in turn, reduces their intrinsic motivation at work and ultimately decreases their creativity. That is, the findings of this study reveal a negative relationship between workplace incivility (i.e. coworker and customer incivility) and service employees’ creativity that is fully and sequentially mediated by the service employees’ emotional exhaustion and intrinsic motivation.
The use of cross-sectional self-reports potentially raises concerns about common method bias. Caution is recommended in reaching conclusions concerning the causal relationships between the variables, as the current study did not capture causality variation. For instance, it may be that emotional exhaustion from incivility gradually compounds over time, leading to a greater negative impact on service employees. In contrast, employees may develop strategies to cope with uncivil behavior over time, which attenuates the negative effects on service employees as time passes. A longitudinal design might offer an alternative to overcome this limitation in future research.
Considering the findings about the mediating effect of emotional exhaustion between workplace incivility and employee outcomes (i.e. intrinsic motivation and creativity), firms should consider establishing systematic institutional practices and policies to prevent employees from feeling emotionally exhausted from workplace incivility. Executive and senior management teams would benefit by instituting strict policies and regulations which nurture desirable behaviors among organizational members that protect victims of workplace incivility.
This study is the first to examine the relationship between workplace incivility and creativity. Moreover, the present study attempts to develop an understanding of the underlying mechanism through which both coworker and customer incivility negatively affect service employees’ creativity.
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea Grant funded by the Korean Government (NRF-2013S1A5A2A03045125).
Hur, W., Moon, T. and Jun, J. (2016), "The effect of workplace incivility on service employee creativity: the mediating role of emotional exhaustion and intrinsic motivation", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 302-315. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-10-2014-0342Download as .RIS
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