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This book presents current research on boundary spanning elements. The editors bring together extant knowledge in the field and present a uniform narrative. Previous studies have often been disseminated across several academic disciplines like services marketing, personal selling and sales management etc. and this monograph aggregates studies dealing with boundary spanning elements or has boundary spanning elements related to the marketing function as the main empirical platform under a uniform theoretical perspective. Each chapter in the book deals with an important research theme and synthesizes studies in relation to boundary spanning elements.



Managing Boundary Spanning Elements: An Introduction

The primary purpose of boundary spanning has been the information exchange between the organization and its task-environment. With complex, global organizational structures and increased emphasis on outsourcing, organizations today are susceptible to degenerate into ‘silos’ and in turn hampering the synergy and efficiency. Boundary spanning research becomes critical to answer some emerging questions in this area. Organization theorists have considered the boundary spanning construct an important one that explains the boundaries of an organization, inter organizational exchanges, dependence and in general, the concept of an organization. The research in this area seems to fall in two broad streams viz., Organization focused, dealing with issues pertaining to organization system, network, learning and collaboration and Individual focused, exploring issues of actors—and their attitudes, behavior—that traverse the boundaries of organization such as sales person, service workers and public servants. This chapter introduces nine interesting research studies presented in the following chapters of the book and attempt to put them in perspective in light of extant literature in the area of boundary spanning theory.
Sunil Sahadev, Keyoor Purani, Neeru Malhotra

Customer Cyberbullying: The Experiences of India’s International-Facing Call Centre Agents

As boundary-spanners performing emotional labour via virtual mode in India’s international-facing call centres, agents often face abuse from their overseas customers. Such misbehaviour goes beyond aversive racism to include economic, dispositional, situational and sexual dimensions. Not only do employer organizations and clients, in pursuit of competitive advantage, adopt service level agreements that constrain employee agency in responding to customer aggression but socioideological controls, performance measures and customer feedback also pose significant limits. Agents are defenceless against these three powerful stakeholders, particularly because of the North-South dynamics within which global production networks operate. Adopting emotion-focused coping strategies to deal with their experiences, agents make pragmatic choices that further their long-term interests while maintaining their value systems. In addition to extending the workplace bullying literature through a focus on extra-organizational/external bullying, employer-driven interventions promoting ethical workplaces are suggested as means to address the issue.
Premilla D’Cruz, Ernesto Noronha

A Study of Service Worker Burnout in Russia

This study extends previous research on the antecedents and outcomes of frontline employee (FLE) burnout by empirically testing a job demand stress—strain (burnout)—job performance model using data from a large Russian retail bank. Contrary to findings from North American-Western research, the study findings show that burnout plays no mediating role in the job demand stressors—job performance relationship. Implications of the results are discussed and future research avenues are offered.
Michel Rod, Nicholas J. Ashill, Tanya Gibbs

Drivers of Salesperson’s Customer Orientation: A Work Value Perspective

Sales profession is characterised by high levels of role ambiguity, and role stress, given the boundary spanning nature of the sales job. In last one decade or so, sales literature has been more accommodative of the quest of sales professionals in finding more meaning in their work, and making their tasks more enjoyable. Since as employees, the salespersons cannot decide the tasks that form their job descriptions, they try to make their tasks more enjoyable, and enjoy the process while finding more meaning in their otherwise mundane work. In order to understand the changing face of selling profession, in this empirical article, we have attempted to model salesperson’s customer orientation, the practise of the marketing concept at individual salesperson-customer level, from work value perspective. We suggest two work value drivers of customer orientation of salespersons: (1) salesperson’s karma orientation, and (2) natural rewards strategy. We model these drivers and its dimensions to predict salesperson’s customer orientation as a work value. We also model customer-oriented salesperson to exhibit higher job satisfaction, and sales performance, and test the moderating impact of sales experience on sales performance of a customer-oriented salesperson. We conclude the paper with some managerial and research implications.
Ramendra Singh, Rakesh Singh

Exploring the Role of Salesperson Attributes and Service Behaviors in Adaptive Selling

Services organizations face ever-increasing customer demands and competition in the marketplace, especially in the face-to-face adaptive sales encounters at retail level, making it extremely important to recruit the right kind of salespeople and give them the right kind of training to serve their customers better. However, there is little prior research that combines these two perspectives in the adaptive selling context. We address this gap with a comprehensive model including four salesperson characteristics (attractiveness, communication ability, expertise and trustworthiness) as antecedents, three service performance behaviors (service manner, extra role and need identification) as mediators, and three important outcome behaviors (willingness to disclose, customer satisfaction and behavioral intentions) as consequences. We also test this model using a field-survey with actual customers in a retail setting in Hong Kong. Our findings help demystify the adaptive selling by unraveling the customer evaluation and judgment processes.
See Mei (Mandy) Lo, Piyush Sharma

The Mediating Role of Role Stress in the Relationship Between Goal Orientation and Job Satisfaction Among Salespersons: An Empirical Study

The paper develops a model that explores the relationship between goal orientation, role-stress and job satisfaction among salespersons. Learning orientation is hypothesised to reduce role-stress while performance orientation is linked to high role-stress. Further, the mediating role of role stress variables on job satisfaction is tested. The conceptual model is tested among a sample of salespersons from India. The analyses provide support for most of the hypothesis. The relationship between performance orientation and role-stress constructs as well as the relationship between learning orientation and role-ambiguity is validated through a Partial least square analysis. Implications and future research ideas are discussed.
Sunil Sahadev, Keyoor Purani, Satish K. Nair

Management Interventions and Prosocial Behaviours: Understanding the Mediating Mechanisms

Previous research suggests that the attitudes and behaviours of front-line employees (FLEs) significantly influence customers’ evaluations of service quality and customer satisfaction. Therefore, it becomes important to identify the variables that influence FLEs job attitudes and Prosocial Service Behaviours (PSBs). The conceptual framework developed from extant literature is presented, which proposes that management interventions (internal communication, training and development and empowerment) have a direct effect on PSBs. In addition, these relationships are mediated by role stress and job attitudes. Implications for service management and future research directions are discussed.
Anna-Lena Ackfeldt, Neeru Malhotra

Customer Responses to Service Failure and Recovery Experiences

Service firms strive to deliver high quality services to customers, yet often fail to meet customer expectations, resulting in service failures. To rectify the failure, service recovery is attempted. Effective recovery is fundamental to restoring customer confidence in the organisation and repatronage intentions. Service failure events and subsequent recovery shape customer experience with the service. Service failure and recovery can thus be seen as representing two stages of the same service experience. Customer responses at each of the two stages involve complex psychological processes. A comprehensive understanding of these psychological processes is crucial for management to be able to design effective service recovery strategies. This chapter takes an overarching view of customer responses to service failure and recovery, and critically reviews research evidence in this domain. The review draws upon research from consumer and social psychology, in an effort to explain how service failure and recovery experiences shape customer perceptions, attitudes, and behaviour. The chapter also accounts for additional factors such as customer-firm relationship and brand equity, and their influence on customer responses to service failure and recovery experiences. To conclude, a number of avenues for further research are identified.
Jaywant Singh, Benedetta Crisafulli

Boundary Objects and End User Engagement: Illustrations from the Social Enterprise Domain

Boundary spanning has been extensively researched in organization studies and in marketing. While organizational literature has examined it from information acquisition-processing and representing the organization to external stakeholders; and learning, innovation and product/service development perspectives; marketing literature has focused mainly on aspects such as bringing in useful knowledge about consumer requirements and delivering quality services to them, usually as an act involving unidirectional efforts by organizations. In this chapter we focus on harnessing useful knowledge from consumers and utilizing it in product and service development and delivery. We utilize organizational literature to portray this as a bidirectional interaction between boundary spanners and consumers leading to co-creation of certain aspects of products and services. Specifically, we explore the role of boundary objects in effecting this co-creation. Boundary objects become a vital interface between organizations and consumers, enabling development of a shared understanding among groups with different motivations and mental models, and facilitating interactions and mutual engagement. With examples from the Social Enterprise domain, we illustrate how boundary objects become critical in involving end users or consumers in service development and delivery, and how the use of such objects can enable organizations to stay close to their clients, learn from them and innovate.
Unnikrishnan K. Nair, Ankita Tandon

Boundary Spanning Challenges in a Co-Creative Enterprise: Lesson from Social Problem-Solving Collaborations

Boundary spanning functions have been well-documented in management literature, with the field of marketing, especially sales management, services marketing, customer relationship management and product development, having realized the importance of boundary-spanning elements. The chapter examines boundary spanning challenges in the era of company—customer collaboration, or co-creation. It has been found that when organizations with distinctly complementary capabilities come together, the chances of success are the highest. It is this complementary nature of capabilities for successful collaborations that has led to increasing interest in customers being coopted into various collaborative efforts by marketing organizations.
The chapter draws analogy of co-creation with a specific type of collaboration, the cross-sector collaboration—involving nonprofits with corporate entities—in terms of partnership formation activities, implementation activities and outcomes of such partnerships. It is also posited here that frameworks provided by the cross-sector collaboration are relevant in providing important insights into the boundary spanning challenges in a co-creative enterprise. The chapter links cross-sector collaboration with co-creation and boundary spanning functions and proposes research questions that can be empirically tested. The chapter studies various models of cross-sector collaborations and selects one such framework, the social problem-solving collaboration, for its applicability in the context of the co-creative enterprise. It distils lessons from research on such collaborative efforts and discusses the implications for research and practice.
The insights drawn from studies of cross-sector collaboration have significance in terms of understanding the ecosystem of a co-creative enterprise. Organizations fostering customer co-creation have to deal with challenges of new boundary spanning roles and this can be explained using social problem-solving collaborations. This framework is important from the perspective of the practice of company-customer collaborations in the future. It provides important insights into where and how to intervene to move companies and customers toward co-creation relationships.
Satish K. Nair
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