Emotional labour in professional and semi-professional team sports: an Australian player perspective

Steven Kiely

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Abstract

    [Truncated abstract] Emotional labour is a concept first coined by Hochschild (1983), and is most aptly defined as “the process of regulating feelings and expressions to achieve the organizations goals” (Grandey, 2000, p. 97). Emotional labour has been the subject of numerous qualitative and quantitative inquiries in a myriad of scholarly fields including psychology, sociology, and organisational behaviour. Indeed, research spanning 20 years has highlighted the pervasiveness of emotional labour in numerous occupational contexts. The field of sport psychology has traditionally ignored the extant literature from distinct, yet related psychology disciplines, which may explain why emotional labour and other relevant topics have not previously been investigated. In view of this, sport psychology researchers have called for the inclusion of concepts from organisational psychology to extend knowledge in this realm (Fletcher & Wagstaff, 2009; Gardner, 1995). While a number of theories and concepts from the field of organisational psychology have been examined in sport settings, including goalsetting (Locke & Latham, 1985) emotional intelligence (Gordon, 2001; Latimer et al., 2007) and organizational citizenship behaviour (Aoyagi, Cox, & McGuire, 2008), there are still a number of unexplored theories and concepts that could be valuable to the development of knowledge in the sport and exercise psychology domain (Fletcher & Wagstaff, 2009). Accordingly, the purpose of this thesis was to explore the emotional labour of professional and semi-professional athletes in team sports. A multimethod research design was utilised in order to better understand the concept of emotional labour, in addition to facilitating its development in the substantive area under investigation. After a brief overview of the research project, the opening chapters provide the reader with an in-depth understanding of emotional labour. Chapter II examines the development of the emotional labour construct in addition to its potential antecedents and outcomes. A meta-analytic review of emotional labour research is then presented in Chapter III to inform both the wider emotional labour literature and the current research. Chapter IV presents the main findings of an exploratory qualitative study investigating the emotional labour of professional and semi-professional athletes in team sports. Given the nature of this study, a grounded theory methodology was employed to develop a descriptive and exploratory theory which identifies both the content and context of emotional labour, in addition to potential antecedents, consequences, and moderators. These findings were compared and contrasted with the extant emotional labour literature, which were found to share both similarities and differences. Practical implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed. Utilising the findings generated from Chapter IV, a theoretical model was proposed and tested in Chapter V. Path analysis was employed to test an exploratory model, which was found to be a suitable fit. The results of this analysis suggest that emotional labour can have a negative impact on psychological well-being, and that individual differences may predict the frequency and type of emotional labour performed. Practical implications, limitations, and directions for future research are also discussed...
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2010

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