Using Emotional Labor to Increase Sales Performance; the Role of Perceived Organizational Support

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Assistant Prof., Department of Management, Faculty of Management and Accounting, Allameh Tabataba`i University, Tehran, Iran.

2 MSc., Department of Management, Faculty of Management and Accounting, Allameh Tabataba`i University, Tehran, Iran.


The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of emotional labor on the sales performance of insurance agencies. The researchers seek to observe if employees have the ability to control and moderate their emotions and feelings in accordance with the requirements of the organization and their role, then how their work performance will be affected. In addition, the present study examines whether the perception of organizational support moderates this relationship. This study attempts to observe the insurance industry and among insurance agencies, and since the sales performance of insurance agencies is the main element of their work performance, it is addressed whether they have the characteristics of emotional labor in their agency sales performance and which of the dimensions and characteristics of emotional labor will have a greater impact on the sales performance of insurance agencies. In addition, the role of perception of organizational support will be studied as a moderator variable.
The present study is descriptive in terms of method and is applied in terms of purpose and a survey. It is a quantitative research in terms of the nature of data collection. The statistical population of the present study includes the insurance representatives of Alborz Insurance Company in Tehran provided that they have been active at least during the time of conducting the research. In order to establish a correlation between the sales performance data of each insurance agency and the data related to emotional labor and perceived organizational support, the research questionnaires were identified separately for each agency. An online method has been used to distribute the questionnaire.
Demographic information showed that the same number of men and women participated in the research. In terms of age, about half of the participants were between 31 and 40 years old and one third of the participants were between 25 and 30 years old. Moreover, more than 90% of them hold a bachelor's degree or higher degrees. Based on the five Likert Scale used in the present study, it is found that emotional labor has a mean above average and the perception of organizational support has a mean lower than average. Accordingly, emotional labor and its four dimensions including tangible action, deep action, automatic display of emotions, and variety of display of emotions have a significantly positive effect on the sales performance of insurance agencies. The moderating role of perceived organizational support was not confirmed in the relationship between emotional labor and sales performance.
Superficial action as one of the dimensions of emotional labor has a significant effect on the sales performance of insurance agencies. This means that if they can encourage employees to cooperate with customers, even superficially, it may lead to an increase in sales. According to the test results of the sub-hypotheses of this research, it is clear that other dimensions of emotional labor including deep action, automatic display of emotions and variety of display of emotions have a significantly positive effect on the sales performance of insurance agents as well. Examining the coefficients related to the effect of each dimension of emotional labor on sales performance does not show much difference among different dimensions. The automatic display of emotions in this study, which was examined in the third hypothesis, had the highest impact on sales performance among the dimensions of emotional labor. In the present study, perceived organizational support does not moderate the relationship between emotional workforce and sales performance of Alborz insurance agents, and this could be due to poor employee’s perception of organizational support in this company. This means that the calculated rate for perceived organizational support could not show a significant moderating role in the present study. In other words, according to the research findings, it can be said that the employees under study do not have a good perception of the fact that the organization applies the necessary support and attention to them. Another explanation is that emotional labor and its four dimensions, regardless of the impact of the perceived organizational support variable, can affect sales performance.


 Agnihotri, R., Krush, M., & Singh, R. K. (2012). Understanding the mechanism linking interpersonal traits to pro-social behaviors among salespeople: Lessons from India. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing27(3), 211-227.
Ali, A., Ahmad-Ur-Rehman, M., Haq, I. U., Jam, F. A., Ghafoor, M. B., & Azeem, M. U. (2010). Perceived organizational support and psychological empowerment. European Journal of Social Sciences17(2), 186-192.
Altuntas, M., & Rauch, J. (2017). Concentration and financial stability in the property-liability insurance sector: global evidence. The Journal of Risk Finance18(3), 284-302.
Azizi, S., Khodadadhosseini, S. H., & Rousta, A. (2012). Two level conceptual model of determining factors of sales performance. Business Management Perspective, 9, 61-80. (in Persian)
Bazzazjazaieri, A. (2008). Organizational performance appraisal. Aieej Publication, Tehran. (in Persian)
Behrman, D.N., & Perreault, W.D. (1982). Measuring the performance of industrial salespersons. Journal of Business Research10(3), 355-370.
Biron, M., & Van-Veldhoven, M. (2012). Emotional labor in service work: Psychological flexibility and emotion regulation. Human Relations65(10), 1259-1282.
Casper, W. J., Harris, C., Taylor-Bianco, A., & Wayne, J. H. (2011). Work–family conflict, perceived supervisor support and organizational commitment among Brazilian professionals. Journal of Vocational Behavior79(3), 640-652.
Castellani, D., & Vigano, L. (2017). Does willingness-to-pay for weather index-based insurance follow covariant shocks?. International Journal of Bank Marketing35(3), 516-539.
Chen, Z., Sun, H., Lam, W., Hu, Q., Huo, Y., & Zhong, J. A. (2012). Chinese hotel employees in the smiling masks: Roles of job satisfaction, burnout, and supervisory support in relationships between emotional labor and performance. The International Journal of Human Resource Management23(4), 826-845.
Chi, N. W., & Chen, P. C. (2019). Relationship matters: How relational factors moderate the effects of emotional labor on long-term customer outcomes. Journal of Business Research95, 277-291.
Cuningham, V. M. (2015). Establishing trust to retain volunteers: mitigating negative effects of emotonal labor and burnout. M.A.Thesis, University of Nebraska.
Davari, A., & Rezazadeh, A. (2013). Structural equation modeling with PLS. Iranian Student Book Agency: Tehran. (in Persian)
Deselms, J.L. (2016). 911, What's My Emergency? Emotional Labor, Work-Related Rumination, and Strain Outcomes in Emergency Medical Dispatchers, Doctoral dissertation, Minnesota State University, Mankato.
Duke, A.B., Goodman, J.M., Treadway, D.C., & Breland, J.W. (2009). Perceived organizational support as a moderator of emotional labor/outcomes relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology39(5), 1013-1034.
Eisenberger, R., Huntington, R., Hutchinson, S., & Sowa, D. (1986). Perceived organizational support. Journal of Applied Psychology, 71(3), 500-507.
Fathi Ashtiani, A. (2016). Psychological tests. Besat Publication, Tehran, Iran. (in Persian)
Gaan, N. (2011). Development of Emotional Labour Scale in Indian Context. Vision: The Journal of Business Perspective15(1), 41-48.
Gabriel, A. S., Cheshin, A., Moran, C. M., & Van-Kleef, G. A. (2016). Enhancing emotional performance and customer service through human resources practices: A systems perspective. Human Resource Management Review26(1), 14-24.
Grandey, A. A., & Gabriel, A. S. (2015). Emotional labor at a crossroads: Where do we go from here? The Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior2(1), 323-349.
Groth, M., Hennig-Thurau, T., & Walsh, G. (2009). Customer reactions to emotional labor: The roles of employee acting strategies and customer detection accuracy. Academy of Management Journal52(5), 958-974.
Hakkak, M., Gashti, M. A. H., & Nawaser, K. (2014). The Relationship between Perceived Organizational Support & Job Satisfaction with Organizational Commitment. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management Journal2(3), 194-202.
Han, K. M., Shin, C., Yoon, H. K., Ko, Y. H., Kim, Y. K., & Han, C. (2018). Emotional labor and depressive mood in service and sales workers: Interactions with gender and job autonomy. Psychiatry research267, 490-498.
Hariri, N., Routan, Z., & Janmohammadi, M. (2013). Measuring relationship between perceived organizational support and organizational incuriosity among librarians. Journal of Academic Librarianship and Information Research, 47, 397-414. (in Persian)
Henseler, J., Ringle, C. M., & Sinkovics, R. R. (2009). The use of partial least squares path modeling in international marketing. In new challenges to international marketing, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
Hoseinzadeh, R., & Baktash, F. (2017). Studying the Effect of Mixed Experiential Marketing on Brand Equity and Brand Image (Case Study: Royal Mattress Brand). Journal of Business Management, 10(2), 303-324. (in Persian)
Hur, W. M., Han, S. J., Yoo, J. J., & Moon, T. W. (2015). The moderating role of perceived organizational support on the relationship between emotional labor and job-related outcomes. Management Decision53(3), 605-624.
Jha, S., Balaji, M. S., Yavas, U., & Babakus, E. (2017). Effects of frontline employee role overload on customer responses and sales performance: moderator and mediators. European Journal of Marketing51(2), 282-303.
Khalilimoghadam, M., Soltani, M., Yazdani, H., & Khanifar, H. (2018). Understanding the Experience of Emotional Purchase of Durable Goods: A Phenomenological Study of Purchasing Home Appliance as Dowry. Journal of Business Management, 10(2), 325-348. (in Persian)
Kim, H. J., Hur, W. M., Moon, T. W., & Jun, J. K. (2017). Is all support equal? The moderating effects of supervisor, coworker, and organizational support on the link between emotional labor and job performance. BRQ Business Research Quarterly20(2), 124-136.
Kim, T., Jung-Eun Yoo, J., Lee, G., & Kim, J. (2012). Emotional intelligence and emotional labor acting strategies among frontline hotel employees. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management24(7), 1029-1046.
Kiran A., & Khan, M. A. (2014). Perceived organizational support and emotional labor: The mediating role of emotional intelligence. Research Journal of Recent Science, 3(10), 3-11.
LaMastro, V. (2000). Commitment and perceived organizational support. National Forum of Applied Educational Research Journal, 13(3), 1-13.
Mafakheri, F. (2014). Effect of perceived organizational support and psychological empowerment and organizational citizenship behavior on employees` job performance in Alborz Insurance Branches in Tehran. M.A. Thesis, Allameh Tabataba`i University.
(in Persian)
Malekakhlagh, E., Pourisa, A., & Nabizadeh, A. (2016). Performance appraisal of salesforces according to key performance indicators with DEA. Journal of Development and Evolution Management, 26, 25-34. (in Persian)
Mishra, K. S. (2014). Linking perceived organizational support to emotional labor. Personnel Review43(6), 845-860.
Nixon, A. E., Yang, L. Q., Spector, P. E., & Zhang, X. (2011). Emotional labor in China: do perceived organizational support and gender moderate the process? Stress and Health27(4), 289-305.
Paille, P. (2015). Perceived organizational support and work outcomes: The mediating role of psychological contract violation. International Journal of Organizational Analysis23(2), 191-212.
Pelosy, E. M. (2015). Staying engaged when you are on stage: The effects of emotional labor, competence and relatedness on work engagement, Doctoral Dissertation, Seattle Pacific University.
Pugh, S. D. (2001).Service with a smile: Emotional contagion in the service encounter. Academy of Management Journal, 44(5), 1018-1027.
Rahimi Baghmalek, J., Haghighi, M., & Mira, S. A. (2019).Developing a Loyalty Model Based on the Customers’ Experience in Hotel Industry Using Grounded Theory Strategy.Journal of Business Management, 11(1), 125-140. (in Persian)
Ranjan, K. R., Sugathan, P., & Rossmann, A. (2015). A narrative review and meta-analysis of service interaction quality: new research directions and implications. Journal of Services Marketing29(1), 3-14.
Rhoades, L., & Eisenberger, R. (2002). Perceived organizational support: a review of the literature. Journal of Applied Psychology87(4), 698.
Riggle, R. J., Edmondson, D. R., & Hansen, J. D. (2009). A meta-analysis of the relationship between perceived organizational support and job outcomes: 20 years of research. Journal of Business Research62(10), 1027-1030.
Shafiee, M., Zareian, M., Zarei Matin, H., & Firoozi, M. (2019). Understanding and Modeling Industrial Marketing Managers’ Behavioral Distress using Grounded Theory Approach.  Journal of Business Management, 11(1), 179-200. (in Persian)
Singh, R., & Venugopal, P. (2015). The impact of salesperson customer orientation on sales performance via mediating mechanism. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing30(5), 594-607.
Singh, R., Kumar, N., & Puri, S. (2017). Thought self-leadership strategies and sales performance: Integrating selling skills and adaptive selling behavior as missing
Wang, Y. D., & Hsieh, H. H. (2013). Organizational ethical climate, perceived organizational support, and employee silence: A cross-level investigation. Human Relations66(6), 783-802.
Wen, J., Huang, S. S., & Hou, P. (2019). Emotional intelligence, emotional labor, perceived organizational support, and job satisfaction: A moderated mediation model. International Journal of Hospitality Management81, 120-130.
Wharton, A.S. (1993). The affective consequences of service work: Managing emotions on the job. Work and Occupations20(2), 205–232.
Williams, S. (1997). Personality and self-leadership. Human Resource Management Review7(2), 139-155.
Yazdani, N. (2013). Emotional Labor & big five personality model. In 3rd International Conference on Business Management by School of Business and Economics, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Pakistan.
Yoo, J. (2016). Perceived customer participation and work engagement: the path through emotional labor. International Journal of Bank Marketing34(7), 1009-1024.
Zapf, D. (2002). Emotion work and psychological well-being: A review of the literature and some conceptual considerations. Human Resource Management Review12(2), 237-268.