The Assessment Of The Relationship Between Emotional Labor And Counter-Productive Work Behavior


In recent years, an interest in employee's emotions and emotional states has increased rapidly in the working environment. Emotions and expressions of them always remain important in occupational groups where human capital is predominant. Studies that are required to exhibit organizationally desirable behaviors in relation to people we interact with in working life are expressed as emotional labor. The fact that enterprises operate in an intensely competitive environment causes important problems at the point where the functions of the employees are realized in the way that the organization continues its activities. In this context, the existence of the relationship between the CWB - expressed as the guiding of the employees' feelings towards the benefit of the organization, and the Emotional Labor- expressed as the way in which employees ignore the interests of the organization or act as malicious acts to protect these interests; is considered important. In enterprises operating under intense competition conditions; physical and non-physical stress sources pressure workers and direct their behaviors in favor of or against the organization. It is, therefore, a matter of curiosity and a necessity to investigate the relationship between Emotional Labor and CWB in terms of ensuring the efficiency of business activities and increasing the quality of working life. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between employee's emotional labor and CWB by means of factor analyses. The results showed that CWB was associated with emotional labor and that surface acting increased the CWB.

Keywords: Counterproductive work behavioremotional labordeep and genuine actingsurface


In the field of social sciences, feelings and emotions of human beings are studied in many disciplines such as psychology and organizational behaviour (Seçer, 2007). Emotions are everyday experiences that are taken at every moment of human life, whether in the business environment or elsewhere (Çoruk & Akçay, 2012). Along with the need to keep people's social existence in the working life, it emphasizes the importance of the feeling in the workplace where people spend most of their daily life in a working environment (Robbins & Judge, 2017; Seçer, 2007).

Emotions are the reactions to a person or a thing. They are indicated to be effective even in decisions to be made in the business life, ın the case of creativity, the motivation of employees, leadership processes, employee attitudes, counter-productive work behaviors and even labor security. In this context, emotion and emotional state are of particular importance for all organizational behavior issues studied. Managers who consider the emotion and emotional states in the management process will develop their abilities to understand the attitudes of their colleagues and employees (Robbins & Judge, 2017). Although the emotions are so important in the organization, it is observed that emotional states are not given importance in organizational behavior literature until the 1990s (Çoruk & Akçay, 2012).

In the organizational behavior literature, awareness on the importance of emotions begins with the understanding that emotional labor is one of the essential elements for effective job performance. As well as physical and intellectual labor, employees also contribute emotionally to the work they do. Work that requires employees to exhibit the behaviors desired by the organization and to engage in the necessary facial expressions is called emotional labor. Emotional labor is taking place in many branches of business. For example, in all workplaces, managers expect from their employees to be respectful when interacting with other employees. The ability to distinguish between expected emotions and real emotions while doing their jobs, provide great convenience to the employee. Real emotions of the employee are the ones felt in the workplace. The emotions shown or expected are the moods that are desired to be engaged in and that are appropriate for a particular job. The challenge here is to reflect a different feeling, regardless of the emotion felt at that moment. This contradiction is called "emotional dissonance". Briefly, the inconsistency between how the employee feels and express is defined as emotional dissonance (Robbins & Judge, 2017).

In the workplace, employers want their employees to consider their organization's interests and manage their emotions in order to display appropriate behavior. The act of exhibiting the most appropriate behavior in terms of the organization’s interests is also part of emotional labor. Counter-productive work behaviour may arise as a result of employees trying to manage their emotions based on the organization’s interests. For this reason, employers must take into account the feelings of employees, as well as customers, when evaluating their employees’ behaviors.

It is observed that the employees exhibit different types of behavior in their hierarchical relations. In addition, their interpersonal attitude towards colleagues changes according to the nature of the work done and individual characteristics. While some employees exhibit organizational citizenship behaviors that require voluntary and superior efforts for positive organizational behavior, some others are found to have negative behaviors that they deliberately carry out, which may lead to damage to the organization and its members. These negative behaviors are described as counter-productive work behaviors (CWB) (Polatçı, Özçalık, & Cindiloğlu, 2014).

Since the 1990s, the interest on negative extra-role behaviors has been increasing in international studies. Some researchers consider the cause of this situation as a consequence of liberalization tendencies experienced in industrial relations in the last 20-30 years in the business environment (Çetin & Fıkırkoca, 2010). Counter-productive work behaviour is when employees deliberately behave in a way that is harmful to both the organization and/or its members. Since counter-productive work behaviour deals with human behaviour in the workplace it has been studied in many fields such as, psychology, sociology and economics (Marcus & Schuler, 2004). CWBs are the result of the individual or intergroup competition in the organization. Such behaviors may not only harm organizational goals and objectives but also affect the daily lives and work environment of employees in a negative way (Mount, Ilines, & Johnson, 2006).

Literature Review and Theoretical Framework

Emotional Labor

According to organizational behavior, there also exists emotional labor in addition to physical and mental labor. The emotional dimension of the labor concept was first mentioned in 1983 in the book entitled "The Managed Heart" by Hochschild. Emotional labor is defined as "managing feelings to make facial and physical representations that can be observed by everyone" (Hochschild, 1983). After Hochschild, the concept of emotional labor is defined in various forms as diverse. James (1989) describes emotional labor as the main component that is responsible for the regulation of emotions and the communication with others with their emotions. On the other hand, according to Ashforth & Humphrey (1993); emotional labor is the whole of the behaviors shown for expressing the appropriate emotional state. Morris & Feldman (1996) mentioned that emotional labor is the effort, the plan and the control that individuals show in order to express the feelings they are expected to engage in during interpersonal interaction. Steinberg & Figart (1999) states that emotional labor is related to the job satisfaction or burnout level of the employee and that there is an exhibited effort to empathize to understand others and to understand what they feel. Kruml & Geddes (2000) highlight that emotional labor is the work of the employee when it is necessary to show feelings designated as an insurance of excellent customer service and to feel these emotions. Eroğlu (2010), concludes that emotional labor is an effort to feel and exhibit appropriate sensation with the aim of providing the best service to the stakeholder when the employee applies the procedures determined by the organization. In the light of these definitions; it is possible to define emotional labor as "the effort to control the emotions of the employees according to a form of behavior that has been appropriately accepted in business life".

Table 1 summarizes the basic dimensions and general characteristics of the four major emotional labor models in the literature (Hochschild, 1983; Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Morris & Feldman, 1996; Grandey, 2000).

Table 1 -
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As seen in Table 1 regarding the concept of emotional labor; there are differences in the definition of the dimensions of emotional labor. In this study, emotional labor is based on three dimensions: surface acting, deep acting, and genuine acting. Surface acting is explained as emotional expressions which are occurred when they do not feel the emotions they should show. Deep acting has occurred when they try to feel the emotions they should show. Genuine acting is expressed as the behavior in situations where the feelings felt by the employee are the same as the emotions they feel.

According to (Chu & Murmann, 2006; Chu, Baker, & Murrmann, 2012; Gursoy, Boylu, & Avci, 2011; Kruml & Geddes, 2000) genuine and surface-acting behaviors of emotional labor take place in two different ways. These are classified as one single dimension and called emotional dissonance, and deep acting is defined as emotional effort. Emotional dissonance is defined as the difference between the emotional impressions that are expected to be expressed by the emotions that are felt and emotional effort is expressed as the effort spent to show emotions (Brotheridge & Lee, 2003).

Counter-Productive Work Behavior

CWB is carried out by a member of an organization in order to harm both the organization and the other members of the organization (Martınko, Gundlach, & Douglas, 2002). Many researchers working on CWB describe this concept in different ways. According to Sackett (2002), CWB is defined as "behaviors that are contrary to the legitimate interests of the members of the organization and intentionally harm the organization". Robinson and Bennett (1995) refer to CWB as "deviant behavior" in the form of "violations of the rules of the organization, voluntary actions to disrupt the peace of the members of the organization or both". According to Spector (2011), CWB is defined as behavior that is done deliberately, aiming directly at the organization and its members (managers, colleagues, subordinates, customers, etc.) and done in a way that clearly shows or hides the idea of harm.

In terms of the definitions made, it is seen that the CWB is the negative behaviors that are common in the direction of conscious and legitimate interests that harm the organization and members of it (Hafidz, 2012). However, despite the use of different terms to express negative behavior in organizations, all behaviors aiming at harming the organization or its members by such means as robbery, sabotage, aggression among individuals, slowing down of work, waste of time and / or material and spread of rumors are considered within the scope of CWB (Penney & Spector, 2002).

When the relevant literature on determinants of CWB is examined, it is seen that there are generally two determining groups. One of these is the situational factor and the other is the individual factor. The determinants of CWB are important in that they show the reasons for exhibiting these behaviors and guide to prevent them. According to Martinko, (2002), employees experience two different emotional states, i.e. guilt/shame, and anger/disappointment. It appears that individuals who are overriding guilt/embarrassment exhibit CWB against themselves such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and depression. Although these may seem like behaviors towards a colleague, they may also harm the organization itself. On the other hand, individuals who are subjected to anger/disappointment are exposed to CWB such as violence, harassment, theft, and sabotage, which are retaliatory behaviors, and they engage in destructive actions against them. One of the classifications of determinants of CWB is involved in the study Lau, V. Au & Ho (2003). Lau, (2003) assess the determinants of CWB under four dimensions. First, they evaluated the factors that arise from the employees themselves and assessed the employee's age, gender, marital status, family responsibilities, job satisfaction, job perceptions and employee attitudes (alcohol, substance addiction tendency) as personal factors in the formation of CWB. Second, they investigated the employment status, the organizational climate and the physical conditions of the organization. As a further determinant, the nature of the work was emphasized, the work to be done, the ability to negotiate with colleagues, and finally the climate and population structure as contextual factors. Marcus & Shuler (2004) evaluate the CWB under two determinants. The first determinant is the individual-situational group, which indicates whether the behavior is due to personal factors or situational factors. The second, decisive group is control-motivation. According to Marcus and Shuler, opportunities (situational-control) are the idea that individuals should try to exhibit CWB and facilitate negative outcomes to achieve the desired result. Internal control (self-control) is the existence of a number of personal traits that prevent the CWB from taking place. Triggers (situational-motivation) are the practice of CWB as a reaction of individuals, external events. The tendency (individual-motivation) is expressed as the state of being driven by personality traits, where individuals are invited to exhibit CWB.

There is no consensus on the dimensions of CWB in the literature of organizational behavior. Hollinger & Clark (1983), with their first comprehensive studies of CWB, have examined this concept in two dimensions. These dimensions are deviant behavior towards property and deviant behavior against production. Spector, (2006) evaluate the CWB in 5 dimensions. These dimensions are classified as abuse, deviation from production, sabotage, theft, and withdrawal.

In this study, CWB is addressed according to the typology given by Bennett & Robinson (2000). They classify CWB against members and organization in two different ways. First, “CWB against members” emerge as a consequence of employees' inter-individual relations, which are in conflict with their organizational values and beliefs (Demirel, 2009). It includes making fun of others, making racial discourses, swearing at others, and becoming rude (Mount,, 2006). Second, “CWB against organization” emerges as a result of a reduction in perceptions of organizational trust and organizational justice, in which the promotion and reward system is not fair, the favorable application is much more involved (Iyigün & Çetin, 2012).

The Relationship Between The Emotional Labor and Counter-Productive Work Behavior

CWB affects the performance of both employees and organizations in a negative way, and the continuous status of these behaviors by employees creates serious costs for the organization. Literature survey showed that management style, ethical climate, organizational trust, organizational justice, organizational citizenship behavior, organizational support, leadership styles, organizational culture have been considered as the effective factors on CWB (Kanten & Ülker 2014; Gerçek, 2017; Polatçı & Özçalık, 2015; Polatçı, 2014; Akbaş Tuna, & Boylu,2016; Doğan & Deniz, 2017). These factors imply that when employees evaluate organizational conditions negatively, they are directed to harmful actions against the organization. Therefore, emotional labor is also negatively related to the concept of CWB, which is also referred to as intentional harm to the organization.

In the literature, it is seen that the number of studies in which the concept of emotional labor is related to the concept of anti-productivity behavior is less. Fettahlıoğlu, Bıyıkbeyi, Güler & Demir, 2016) found that emotional labor had a negative effect on CWB and a significant association with social commitment in the study of emotional labor in relation to the effects of CWB and social commitment in call center workers. Sharma & Sharma (2014), examined the relationship between emotional labor, job satisfaction and CWB on employees in the Indian banking sector. The results of the study show that emotional labor is a better mediator variable for job satisfaction and that the proposed mediation is partly supported by emotional labor versus CWB. Wang & Lian (2015), study which examines the relationship between psychological capital, emotional labor, and CWB in Chinese service sector workers have found that the psychological capital of employees has a meaningful and negative relationship with CWB, that deep acting is mediated factor and that the emotional intelligence of leaders plays a mediator of deep acting with CWB. In the study of the relationship between emotional labor and CWB on customer service workers in the United States, it is mentioned that employees exhibit CWB because of the stress and emotional incompatibility (Sharma & Sharma, 2014).

Figure 1: Figure 01. The Model of The Study
Figure 01. The Model of The Study
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The hypotheses of the study are designed as follows:

H1: There is a statistically significant relationship between surface acting and CWB against members.

H2: There is a statistically significant relationship between deep acting and CWB against members.

H3: There is a statistically significant relationship between genuine acting and CWB against members.

H4: There is a statistically significant relationship between surface acting, and CWB against the organization.

H5: There is a statistically significant relationship between deep acting and CWB against the organization.

H6: There is a statistically significant relationship between genuine acting and CWB against the organization.

Research Method

3.1. Sample and Data Collection

The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the mutual relationships among emotional labor and counter-productive work behaviors within the context of different sectors. In order to empirically investigate the hypothesis the employees of different sectors located in Eastern Marmara were surveyed. All constructs were measured with existing scales. The sample of the research consists of 328 individuals. Data is submitted to regression, correlation reliability and factor analyses using SPSS 13.0. The 83,5 percent of participants are under age 39, the proportion of women, 53,4%, and married 59,8%. Of the participants, %52,1 had university educations, %18 had master education.

Emotional labor: The three dimensions of emotional labor a-) surface acting b-) deep acting and c) genuine acting are measured using the emotional labor scale used in the research was taken from the study used by Yeni (2015). The relevant scale was adapted by Diefendorff, Croyle, & Gosserand, (2005). This scale was adopted on the basis of emotional labor scales developed by Garndey (2003) and Krulm and Geddes (2000). The adaptation of the scale to Turkish was done by Basım & Beginirbaş (2012). The scales are given on a five-point Likert scale ranging from "never" to "always " (Never=1, Rarely=2, Sometimes=3, Usually=4, Always=5).

Counter-productive work behaviors: The two dimensions of as CWB against members and CWB against organization are measured using the counter-productive work behavior scale adopted from Bennett and Robinson's (2000), study named “Interpersonal and Organizational Deviance Scale”. The first seven expressions on the scale express harmful behaviors to the members of the organization while the next twelve items describe harmful behaviors to the organization. The scales are given on a five-point Likert scale ranging from "never" to "everyday" (Never = 1, Once or twice a year = 2, Once or twice a month = 3, Once or twice a week = 4, Everyday = 5). The high score on the scale indicates that counter-productive work behaviors are more frequently exhibited.

Analyses and Findings

Since the scales were used with a new sample, 12 items of independent variables and 19 items of dependent variables were submitted to exploratory analysis. A principal component analyses and screen plot indicated that five factors should be retained (eigenvalues above 1.0). The best fit of data was obtained with a principal factor analysis with varimax rotation.

Table 2 -
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Table 3 -
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The results of the factor analyses show that the independent variable are gathered in three factors while the dependent variable counter productive work behaviors (CWB) is gathered in two:

Factor 1 consists of six Surface Acting Items with an internal consistency reliability coefficient (Cronbach’s Alpha) of 0,840.

Factor 2 includes three Deep Acting items with an internal consistency reliability coefficient of 0,670.

Factor 3 includes two genuine acting items with an internal consistency reliability coefficient (Cronbach’s Alpha) of 0,854.

The dependent variable counter productive work behaviors (CWB) gathered in two factors:

Factor 1 includes seven Counter-Productive Work Behavior Against to Members with an internal consistency reliability coefficient (Cronbach’s Alpha) of 0, 864.

Factor 2 includes eight Counter-Productive Work Behavior Against Organizatıon with an internal consistency reliability coefficient (Cronbach’s Alpha) of 0,888.

Table 2 and Table 3 show the factor loadings of emotional labor surface acting, deep acting, genuine acting, counter-productive work behavior agaınst organizatıon members and organization.

Table 4 -
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Means, standard deviations and inter-correlations are summarized in Table 4 . Cronbach`s Alpha values are shown using parentheses on the cross of the table. According to the correlation results all variables have direct relationship between each other on a bivariate level.

Table 5 -
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In the first regression analyze we investigated the influences of surface acting, deep acting and genuine acting on CWB against members. The regression model is significant as a whole (F=10,584: p< 0, 01); it explains %8 of the change of CWB against members. This study provides empirical evidence that emotional labor is related to CWB. The findings shows that as we predicted in H1surface acting has positive and significant effects on CWB against members (β:0,293: p< 0, 01). However, the results do not provide any empirical evidence in support of the relationships between deep acting, genuine acting, and CWB. Therefore, hypothesis H1is fully supported while H2 and H3 is not.

Table 6 -
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In the second regression analyze we investigated the influences of surface acting, deep acting and genuine acting on CWB against organization. The regression model is significant as a whole (F=15,588: p< 0, 01); it explains %12 of the change of CWB against organization. This study provides empirical evidence that emotional labor is related to CWB. The findings shows that as we predicted in H4 surface acting has positive and significant effects on CWB against organization (beta:0,363: p< 0,01). However, the results do not provide any empirical evidence in support of the relationships between deep acting, genuine acting, and CWB. Therefore, hypothesis H4 is fully supported while H5 and H6 is not.

Conclusion and Discussions

Emotional labor is manifested in people who are involved in the interaction of employees in today's business life. It reflects their emotions towards the organizational goal while exhibiting their performances. In this context, it is expected that employee will exhibit other feelings of pleasure, desire to serve instead of anxiety, fear, or different feelings they feel (Boyd, 2002). On the other hand, when employees are forced to exhibit emotions that they do not feel, organizational tasks lead to decreases in efficiency, productivity and performance (Fettahlıoğlu, 2016). This leads to an increase in the frequency of employee in CWB. CWB is is the total of individual and mental harmful behaviors that degrade the quality of the organization's business environment.

In this study, the authors investigated the relationship between emotional labor and the prevalence of CWB of the employees in different sectors operating in the Eastern Marmara Region. Correlation and regression analyzes were conducted to assess this relationship.

Statistically significant correlations were found between CWB dimensions of the surface acting dimension and emotional labor. As the surface acting of employee increased, the exhibit of CWB increased. Surface acting means that employees perform their expected behaviors without internalizing them; both CWB against organizations (such as spoiling the business environment, long break, intentionaly slow work) and CWB against the organization (such as hurting colleagues, ethnic and religious rhetoric). Fettahlıoğlu, (2016) found negative and significant relationships between CWB against members and the surface acting in moderate level. Accordingly, CWB against the member decreases as surface acting increases. In addition, there was no significant relationship between surface acting and CWB against organization. Bectoldt, Welk, Hartig, & Zapf, (2007), mentioned that there is a statistically meaningful positive relationship between surface acting and CWB. In this context, the research findings support the findings from the literature survey.

It is also indicated that there is a statistically significant relationship between the deep and genuine acting and CWB. Fettahlıoğlu, (2016) there is a moderate and negative relationship between deep acting and CWB against members. According to this, it is possible to say that the probability of showing CWB is decreased when the deep acting increases as shown by the employees. Furthermore, Fettahlıoğlu, (2016) found no significant relationship between deep acting and CWB against organization and member. This study partially supports the results of the research.

This study aims to contribute to the literature by providing an explanation for the relationship between employees' emotional labor and CWB. Besides, the effects of the employees on CWB or emotional labor representation should be tested by taking different factors into consideration. In addition, it should be examined whether the results of emotional labor differ in terms of demographic variables. The selection of a small area in certain sectors can be considered as a significant limitation. Subsequent studies need to remove this limitation and address the issue through larger samples.

Consequently, CWB was found to be associated with emotional labor. Moreover, surface acting increases the CWB. Therefore, it is crucial for the employers to consider whether their employees work for the purpose of internalizing their feelings in terms of achieving the goals of the organization.


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Gündüz Çekmecelioğlu, H., Yıkılmaz, İ., Kağan*, G., & Baysal, C. (2019). The Assessment Of The Relationship Between Emotional Labor And Counter-Productive Work Behavior. In M. Özşahin, & T. Hıdırlar (Eds.), New Challenges in Leadership and Technology Management, vol 54. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 406-419). Future Academy.