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01-08-2022 | Original Paper

Picking Sides: Relational Identification as a Moderator of Service Employee Reactions to Unfair Customer Treatment

Authors: Joel M. Evans, Stephen W. Gilliland, Jennifer S. Anderson

Published in: Journal of Business and Psychology

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Abstract

We explored the question of how employees react to the perceived fairness of their manager’s treatment of customers. Current models of third-party justice reactions produce two tenable but mutually exclusive responses to observed manager-customer treatment: Relational affirmation, in which service employees engage customers in ways perceived to be congruent with manager-customer treatment, and relational restoration, in which they attempt to rebalance or restore their perceived relationship with customers to counteract observed treatment. Hypothesizing both effects, we explore the role of service employees’ relational identification with customers as a moderator of these two employee reactions. Across a field study of nursing assistants (n = 107) and their supervisors (n = 7), and a laboratory study with a simulated customer service help desk (n = 100), employee-customer identification was found to interact with supervisor-customer interpersonal justice such that the relationship between perceived justice and pro-customer behavior was positive when employee-customer identification was low (consistent with relational affirmation) and negative when employee-customer identification was high (consistent with relational restoration) (Study 1: β = −.22; Study 2: η2 = .07).
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Metadata
Title
Picking Sides: Relational Identification as a Moderator of Service Employee Reactions to Unfair Customer Treatment
Authors
Joel M. Evans
Stephen W. Gilliland
Jennifer S. Anderson
Publication date
01-08-2022
Publisher
Springer US
Published in
Journal of Business and Psychology
Print ISSN: 0889-3268
Electronic ISSN: 1573-353X
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-022-09833-z

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