Empathetic creativity for frontline employees in the age of service robots: conceptualization and scale development

Khoa The Do , Huy Gip, Priyanko Guchait, Chen-Ya Wang, Eliane Sam Baaklini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While robots have increasingly threatened frontline employees’ (FLEs) future employment by taking over more mechanical and analytical intelligence tasks, they are still unable to “experience” and “feel” to occupy empathetic intelligence tasks that can be handled better by FLEs. This study, therefore, aims to empirically develop and validate a scale measuring the new so-called empathetic creativity as being creative in practicing and performing empathetically intelligent skills during service encounters.

This study adopts a multistage design to develop the scale. Phase 1 combines a literature review with text mining from 3,737 service robots-related YouTube comments to generate 16 items capturing this new construct. Phase 2 assesses both face and content validity of those items, while Phase 3 recruits Prolific FLEs sample to evaluate construct validity. Phase 4 checks this construct’s nomological validity using PLS-SEM and Phase 5 experiments dedicated effort (vs natural talent) as an effective approach to foster FLEs’ perceived empathetic creativity.

The final scale is comprised of 13 refined items that capture three dimensions (social, interactive and emotional) of empathetic creativity. This research provides timely implications to help FLEs in high-contact services stay competitive.

This study introduces the new construct of empathetic creativity, which goes beyond the traditional definition of creativity in services and highlights the importance of empathetic intelligence for FLEs in future employment. This study also develops a multi-item scale to measure this construct, which can be applied to future service management research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-466
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Service Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2022


  • artificial intelligence
  • service robotics
  • empathetic intelligence
  • empathetic creativity
  • frontline employees

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