Gender and Emotional Labor in Public Organizations: An Empirical Examination of the Link to Performance

Authors

  • Kenneth J. Meier,

    Corresponding author
    1. Texas A&M University
      Kenneth J. Meier is the Charles H. Gregory Chair in Liberal Arts and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University and a professor of public management at Cardiff University, Wales. He received the 2006 John Gaus Award for exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration. His current research projects focus on building a quantitative theory of public management and the role of race, ethnicity, and gender in public policy.
      E-mail:kmeier@polisci.tamu.edu.
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  • Sharon H. Mastracci,

    Corresponding author
    1. University of Illinois at Chicago
      Sharon Mastracci is an assistant professor in the graduate program in public administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies public personnel policies, the changing labor force, and occupational segregation by gender—the different ways that men and women find jobs, the different expectations of women and men at work, and how workplace phenomena affect women and men differently. She is the author of Breaking Out of the Pink Collar Ghetto: Policy Solutions for Non-College Women (M. E. Sharpe, 2004).
      E-mail:mastracc@uic.edu.
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  • Kristin Wilson

    Corresponding author
    1. Texas A&M University
      Kristin Wilson is a former graduate student at Texas A&M University. She is currently pursuing a career in secondary education.
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Kenneth J. Meier is the Charles H. Gregory Chair in Liberal Arts and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Texas A&M University and a professor of public management at Cardiff University, Wales. He received the 2006 John Gaus Award for exemplary scholarship in the joint tradition of political science and public administration. His current research projects focus on building a quantitative theory of public management and the role of race, ethnicity, and gender in public policy.
E-mail:kmeier@polisci.tamu.edu.

Sharon Mastracci is an assistant professor in the graduate program in public administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She studies public personnel policies, the changing labor force, and occupational segregation by gender—the different ways that men and women find jobs, the different expectations of women and men at work, and how workplace phenomena affect women and men differently. She is the author of Breaking Out of the Pink Collar Ghetto: Policy Solutions for Non-College Women (M. E. Sharpe, 2004).
E-mail:mastracc@uic.edu.

Kristin Wilson is a former graduate student at Texas A&M University. She is currently pursuing a career in secondary education.

Abstract

Scholars of public organizations have begun to emphasize emotional labor in studies of gender in the workplace, finding that the skills women bring to organizations are often overlooked and undercompensated even though they play a vital role in the organization. Emotional labor is an individual’s effort to present emotions in a way that is desired by the organization. The authors hypothesize that employers with greater emotional labor expectations of their employees will have more effective interactions with clients, better internal relationships, and superior program performance. This article tests the effects of emotional labor in a bureaucratic workforce over time. Multiple regression results show that organizations with more women at the street level have higher overall organizational performance. Additionally, emotional labor contributes to organizational productivity over and above its role in employee turnover and client satisfaction.

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