Comparing the experience of emotional labour between hotel workers in the Philippines and Australia, and implications for human resource development
thesisposted on 01.06.2011, 14:19 by Michael Paul Newnham
This thesis addresses a neglected aspect in the emotional labour literature by seeking to identify the impact of societal culture on how service workers perform emotional labour and its effect on their wellbeing, in terms of the emotional exhaustion and depersonalisation dimensions of burnout. Its original contribution lies in using respondents residing in two contrasting cultures, the Philippines and Australia. The research instrument brings together the INDCOL survey, Emotional Labour Scale, Maslach Burnout Inventory, and job autonomy questions from the Job Diagnostic Survey. Data is analysed from 734 surveys completed by guest-contact workers; hypotheses are tested using the independent samples t-test in SPSS. Meaningful results mainly emerge from comparing responses filtered according to how respondents describe themselves on the INDCOL dimensions rather than by their countries of residence, highlighting the importance of identifying individual-level differences within societies rather than relying on overall descriptions of culture, for such comparative purposes. Respondents report higher levels of burnout when using surface-acting more frequently, and lower levels of burnout when using deep-acting more often. Further, they report similar levels of deep-acting and burnout, and those who report high job autonomy also report lower levels of burnout. Higher levels of burnout are reported by individualists who use surface-acting more frequently. The significance of these findings is the emergence of similar results among respondents in the contrasting culture of the Philippines. The final key finding is that respondents who perform high levels of emotional labour and who experience high job autonomy report less depersonalisation in Australia than the Philippines. Overall, these findings support the usefulness of applying culturally sensitive HRD interventions in the Philippines as well as Australia, to increase the ability of service workers to perform sincere emotional labour and replace negative consequences with positive outcomes for workers, customers and hotels.