Can "Bad" Stressors Spark "Good" Behaviors in Frontline Employees? Incorporating Motivation and Emotion


Boundary-spanning behavior; Emotion; Frontline employees; Hindrance stressor


Purpose: This study aims to investigate the antecedents of frontline employees' boundary-spanning behaviors in the hospitality industry. Anchored in transactional stress theory, affective events theory and motivation theories, a conceptual model was built to explore the impacts of hindrance stressors on boundary-spanning behavior.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from frontline employees in the hospitality industry in the USA. Confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling were used.

Findings: The findings revealed that despite hindrance stressors' negative indirect impact on frontline employees' boundary-spanning behaviors, intrinsic motivation worked effectively to reduce hindrance stress and influence subsequent emotions leading to boundary-spanning behaviors.

Practical implications: This study provides substantial and detailed strategies for hospitality practitioners who are pressed to alleviate the hindrance stressors from which frontline employees frequently suffer, foster employees' positive emotions and ease negative emotions while promoting boundary-spanning behaviors. Cultivation of employees' intrinsic motivation and emotional management is encouraged, as is effective organizational structure and management intervention. All of these are deemed helpful in buffering employees' work-related stress while motivating them to go above and beyond their nominal duties.

Originality/value: Very few studies have examined how "bad" hindrance stressors affect boundary-spanning behaviors. Rather than suggesting that hindrance stressors are relevant only to counterproductive behaviors, this study extends both the stress and boundary-spanning literature by uncovering the impact of hindrance stressors on frontline employees' boundary-spanning behaviors while accounting for the roles of workers' motivation and emotion.

Publication Date


Original Citation

Wang, J., Fu, X., & Wang, Y. (2021). Can “bad” stressors spark “good” behaviors in frontline employees? Incorporating motivation and emotion. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 33(1), 101–124.

Document Type


Source Title

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management






Rosen College of Hospitality Management


Rosen College of Hospitality Management

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