IACMR Research Seminar Series #37

Theme: Revolutionizing Emotional Labor in Organizations: Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the Rescue
Speaker: Nan Jia, University of Southern California
Host: Lori Qingyuan Yue, Columbia Business School
When: 9:00- 10:15 am, June 7, 2023 (China Time, UTC+8) 
Language: Chinese 
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Abstract: Organizations often require employees to engage in emotional labor, regulating their emotions as part of their work role to improve economic performance. However, this demand takes a psychological toll on employees and poses regulatory challenges for organizations. Emotion AI technologies ease this tension. AI conversational bots, powered by deep-learning-based algorithms, enable seamless conversations through voice recognition, natural language processing, and text-to-speech conversion. They also simulate human emotions by adjusting features of their vocal output. In a field experiment, AI outperformed human employees when tasked with emotional labor in customer service, especially when expressing negative emotions. We attribute the performance enhancement to two mechanisms. Firstly, unlike human employees, AI consistently adhered to the requirement of displaying emotions, particularly negative emotions. Secondly, displaying task-appropriate emotions increased performance. However, when AI was instructed to display inappropriate emotions, it continued to fully execute emotional labor, which “backfired” to produce lower economic performance compared to human employees. Therefore, theoretical guidance is crucial to for AI emotional labor. Qualitative evidence shows that employees strongly desired the support of AI in performing emotional labor. In conclusion, AI in emotional labor frees humans from burdens of undesirable tasks and boosts organizational performance.

Speaker’s Bio

Nan Jia is Dean’s Associate Professor in Business Administration in the Management and Organization Department of the USC Marshall School of Business. She holds a PhD in Strategic Management from the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto (Canada). Her research interests include corporate political strategy, business-governance relationships, applications of Artificial Intelligence technologies in management, and corporate governance in international business. Nan’s research has been published in multiple top journals, such as Management Science, Strategic Management Journal, Organizational Science, Administrative Science Quarterly, Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, and Journal of Politics. She currently serves as an associate editor for the Strategic Management Journal and on the editorial boards of multiple leading academic journals.