Today we identify service articles published in Marketing, Management, Operations, Productions, Information Systems & Practioner-oriented Journals in the last months.
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De Luca, L. M., D. Herhausen, G. Troilo and A. Rossi (2021): How and when do big data investments pay off? The role of marketing affordances and service innovation, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 49(4), pp.790-810
Big data technologies and analytics enable new digital services and are often associated with superior performance. However, firms investing in big data often fail to attain those advantages. To answer the questions of how and when big data pay off, marketing scholars need new theoretical approaches and empirical tools that account for the digitized world. Building on affordance theory, the authors develop a novel, conceptually rigorous, and practice-oriented framework of the impact of big data investments on service innovation and performance. Affordances represent action possibilities, namely what individuals or organizations with certain goals and capabilities can do with a technology. The authors conceptualize and operationalize three important big data marketing affordances: customer behavior pattern spotting, real-time market responsiveness, and data-driven market ambidexterity. The empirical analysis establishes construct validity and offers a preliminary nomological test of direct, indirect, and conditional effects of big data marketing affordances on perceived big data performance.
Eberhardt, W., E. Brüggen, T. Post and C. Hoet (2021): Engagement behavior and financial well-being: The effect of message framing in online pension communication, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 38(2), pp.448-471
People spend very little time planning for retirement, which could have negative effects on their financial well-being. To address this troubling lack of engagement, the authors posit that the use of goal framing, a marketing practice that involves making strategic adjustments to wording of marketing communications, in technology-facilitated communication (e.g., email) is effective for stimulating consumers’ behavioral engagement with pension information that is relevant for their long-term financial well-being. Field, online, and laboratory studies consistently show that a prevention-oriented assurance frame in technology-facilitated communication is twice as effective as a promotion-oriented investment frame for increasing participants’ engagement behavior. The findings have important implications for marketers and policy makers who seek to increase consumers’ retirement engagement behavior and financial well-being.
Fletcher-Brown, J., S. Turnbull, G. Viglia, T. Chen and V. Pereira (2021): Vulnerable consumer engagement: How corporate social media can facilitate the replenishment of depleted resources, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 38(2), pp.518-529
Technology may facilitate health and wellbeing consumer engagement. When there is scant public health provision and socio-cultural norms marginalize consumers stigmatized from cancer, we reveal how a brand’s corporate social media campaign can support vulnerable consumers with resource constraints. Drawing from a transformative consumer research lens, we investigate five years of computer-mediated communications facilitated by the Indian brand Dabur Vatika. Through a grounded theory and an abductive reasoning approach, we unveil how vulnerable consumers directly or indirectly affected by cancer leverage brand’s social media to replenish resources. First, we identify how vulnerable consumers engage to replenish depleted emotional and social support resources. We further expand consumer engagement scholarship by offering a preliminary definition of “vulnerable consumer engagement”. Second, we provide a nascent classification of vulnerable consumers in a consumer-producer role, Principal Vulnerable Consumers and Associate Vulnerable Consumers, distinguished by their proximity to the vulnerable context. Lastly, we reveal how brands may perform a transformative role, to replenish social, emotional and operant resources at the micro level through the engagement of vulnerable consumers with corporate social media. This insight is informative for policymakers, advertising practitioners and transformative consumer research academics.
Robiady, N. D., N. A. Windasari and A. Nita (2021): Customer engagement in online social crowdfunding: The influence of storytelling technique on donation performance, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 38(2), pp.492-500
Crowdfunding has become a key approach in connecting people and equality distribution mechanisms. Digitalization enables various crowdfunding platforms to be built online for different purposes, one of those being donation crowdfunding for social purposes. To capture attention and obtain sufficient donations, customer engagement is a key focus for these platforms. To engage customer emotion and cognition, social crowdfunding content must be captivating. Storytelling techniques are one of the most popular approaches in creating engaging content. It is essential to explore the relationship between storytelling, customer engagement, and successful achievement of donations. This research explores the different effects of direct vs. indirect storytelling techniques on social-issue crowdfunding campaigns. Data from a crowdfunding platform suggest that storytelling techniques have a significant positive effect on customer engagement and donation performance, particularly the direct storytelling technique. However, customer engagement does not serve as a mediator between storytelling and donation performance. This study fills the research gap regarding digital customer engagement, particularly in the social purpose context. The theoretical and practical implications are also discussed. • We study the effect of storytelling and customer engagement on online social crowdfunding platform. • Direct storytelling technique has greater positive effect to customer engagement compared to indirect storytelling. • Customer engagement does not significantly influence donation performance. • Customer engagement does not mediate the relationship between storytelling to donation performance.
Wolf, T., S. Jahn, M. Hammerschmidt and W. H. Weiger (2021): Competition versus cooperation: How technology-facilitated social interdependence initiates the self-improvement chain, International Journal of Research in Marketing, 38(2), pp.472-491
Consumers are increasingly using technologies such as wearables or mobile apps to achieve their self-improvement goals. Such technologies often contain features that enable social interdependence (competition or cooperation) among users to support them in improving their engagement, performance, and well-being (life satisfaction and personal growth). However, the critical question remains: does competition or cooperation best serve users in attaining these self-improvement goals? Evidence from an online experiment and a field study reveals that competition is more effective in driving performance and personal growth, while cooperation is superior in terms of behavioral engagement and life satisfaction. Furthermore, the results indicate that the effects are mediated by strive for success and fear of failure, two counteracting psychological processes. While competition is the stronger trigger for both pathways, downstream effects vary depending on the self-improvement goal considered. This research thus provides insights into whether and how users can best realize their self-improvement goals using technologies that include social features. • Consumers are increasingly using technologies to achieve their self-improvement goals. • Self-improvement technologies often incorporate competitive and cooperative goal structures to support users’ goal attainment. • Competition is superior in driving performance and personal growth, while cooperation boosts engagement and life satisfaction. • Strive for success and fear of failure explain these differential effects on self-improvement goals. • Stakeholders can use these findings to leverage social features for improving individual well-being.
Baliga, A. J., V. Chawla, V. Sunder M, L. S. Ganesh and B. Sivakumaran (2021): Service Failure and Recovery in B2B Markets – A Morphological Analysis, Journal of Business Research, 131(), pp.763-781
• Morphology of Service Failure and Recovery in B2B markets is analyzed. • Eight dimensions and 62 variants are identified. • 418 research gaps identified using a Variants Intersection Matrix. • Service failure modes and combinations of recovery mechanisms are highlighted. The existing body of research on service failures and recoveries primarily deals with business-to-consumer markets, with relatively limited and scattered research on business-to-business (B2B) markets. The purpose of this paper is to review the existing literature on these failures and recoveries in B2B markets, conceptualize and develop a morphological analysis (MA) framework, and identify research gaps that point to future research possibilities. We present an MA framework based on a literature review of 114 papers on the ABDC/ABS/ Clarivate Analytics list. The MA framework, constructed with eight dimensions and 62 variants, reveals 418 distinct research gaps as an upper bound of opportunities for future research. The paper concludes by discussing the implications for future research.
Coelho, F. J., H. Evanschitzky, C. M. P. Sousa, H. Olya and B. Taheri (2021): Control mechanisms, management orientations, and the creativity of service employees: Symmetric and asymmetric modeling, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.753-764
Customer needs in service settings are idiosyncratic. Responding to these unique needs requires frontline employees to be creative. Little research looks at the drivers of service employee creativity. We aim to fill that void by assessing two potential key creativity drivers, control mechanisms and management orientations. We collected data from frontline employees and their managers and used multilevel mediation modeling, configurational modeling and analysis of necessary conditions. Multilevel analysis revealed that the influence of process and social controls on employee creativity are fully mediated by self-control, whereas the effects of cultural control are partially mediated. The effect of the service orientation of management on employee creativity is partially mediated by self-control, whereas the effect of profit orientation is fully mediated. Causal models from employee control mechanisms and management orientation configurations provide a deeper insight of sufficient conditions leading to employee creativity. Necessary employee control mechanisms and management orientations are identified.
Gamble, J. R., E. Clinton and V. Díaz-Moriana (2021): Broadening the business model construct: Exploring how family-owned SMEs co-create value with external stakeholders, Journal of Business Research, 130(), pp.646-657
This paper explores how family-owned SMEs and their external stakeholders co-create value for end consumers. Our empirical data consists of 22 semi-structured interviews with the senior management of family-owned SMEs, supplemented by 1107 items of archival data. The findings shed light on precisely how contemporary family business practitioners can expand their business model (through external orientation and stakeholder collaborations). In doing so, we enrich SME literature by offering new empirical research findings from the unique perspective of how family-owned SMEs collaborate with specific stakeholder groups. We also expand the current business model literature by providing a more nuanced understanding of the SME business model construct, and advance service-dominant logic theory through the presentation of our theoretical model and propositions. Ultimately, this paper extends insights into value co-creation with stakeholders as an extension of the business model construct, whilst highlighting practical implications for family-owned SME practitioners.
Kahn, K. B. and M. Candi (2021): Investigating the relationship between innovation strategy and performance, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.56-66
• Firm size and type of offering moderate the innovation strategy-to-performance relationship. • Dual moderation effects exist as well. • Firm size reflects non-linear moderating effects. • The performance implications of innovation ambidexterity vary across contexts. This research investigates how firm size and the type of offering (product or service) moderate the relationship between innovation strategy and performance. The results from two studies involving samples of managers of firms in the United States show that firm size and type of offering do indeed moderate the relationships between innovation strategy and performance and that dual moderating effects exist. The results challenge prevailing notions on expected benefits of exploration and exploitation strategies for smaller to larger firms. Nonlinear moderating effects by firm size are revealed, which offer more nuanced insights than those presented in existing research. Moreover, while it is generally presumed that service firms benefit primarily from an exploitation innovation strategy, the findings indicate that service firms actually benefit from an exploration innovation strategy regardless of size. The findings further suggest that the performance implications of innovation ambidexterity vary across contexts. Managerial and research implications are discussed.
Khanra, S., A. Dhir, V. Parida and M. Kohtamäki (2021): Servitization research: A review and bibliometric analysis of past achievements and future promises, Journal of Business Research, 131(), pp.151-166
Manufacturing firms are increasingly adopting a strategy known as ‘servitization’ to add services to existing product-based offerings to stimulate additional revenue and growth. While the emerging research domain of servitization is mobilizing relevant knowledge across academic establishments, the present study aims to perform a comprehensive bibliometric analysis to organize the prior knowledge in this area, more importantly, highlights areas for future research. This study acknowledges important contributions from authors and organizations, as identified through analyses of citation chains and co-authorship networks. Next, a co-citation analysis of the prior literature is used to identify four main thematic areas relating to capability development, customer involvement, business models, and transformational challenges for servitization. Finally, the dynamic co-citation analysis technique reveals the development of these thematic areas. This study assumes importance in the extant literature by delivering valuable insights from the prior research on servitization and by providing guidance for future avenues of study.
Kienzler, M., C. Kowalkowski and D. Kindström (2021): Purchasing professionals and the flat-rate bias: Effects of price premiums, past usage, and relational ties on price plan choice, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.403-415
• Investigates purchasing professionals’ price plan choice preferences. • Examines moderators that can intensify or attenuate choice preferences for flat rates. • Analyzes underlying causes of price plan choice preferences. Purchasing professionals arguably choose a price plan that leads to the lowest costs—all else being equal—for their companies when buying services. However, evidence suggests that they prefer flat rates, even where these are more expensive than pay-per-use options. A series of four experiments showed that experienced purchasing professionals tend to exhibit a flat-rate bias in their price plan choices across different business services. The experiments also investigated moderators that intensify or attenuate this bias, which decreased when the flat-rate option was the more expensive alternative but increased with past usage, with upper bound extremes. We also found directional support that the flat-rate bias increases when the buyer-seller relationship is stronger. The experiments also revealed how insurance, convenience, taximeter, overestimation, distrust, and administration effects are related to preferences for flat rates. Beyond their contribution to the pricing literature, these results provide actionable insights for marketing managers and purchasing professionals.
Kiygi-Calli, M., M. Weverbergh and P. H. Franses (2021): Forecasting time-varying arrivals: Impact of direct response advertising on call center performance, Journal of Business Research, 131(), pp.227-240
• We analyze high-frequency advertising and call data by specifically addressing subtle seasonal cycles. • We assess the impact of advertising on call center performance. • We develop a forecasting model for the incoming calls. • We create a discrete event simulation to simulate the manpower planning system. • We demonstrate the importance of the link between marketing activities and operational management. This study investigates manpower planning and the performance of a national call center for scheduling car repairs and responding to road interventions. We model the impact of advertising on the required capacity and develop a forecasting model for incoming calls, where the impact of direct-response advertising is considered. With the estimation results, we forecast the number of incoming calls to the call center. Next, the forecasts are input into the capacity planning simulation module to directly simulate a service process at the highly disaggregated level. This simulation mimics the service level requirements and queue behavior and shows that the call center is operating at a high level of efficiency and performance. We illustrate that advertising may cause a temporary overload of the system and increase the number of abandoned calls, which is suboptimal for call center performance.
Kobel, S. and A. Groeppel-Klein (2021): No laughing matter, or a secret weapon? Exploring the effect of humor in service failure situations, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.260-269
• Humor in service failure situations allows customers to get rid of their anger. • Humor turns out to be a method of service recovery when considered funny. • Humor provides a feeling of relief which facilitates subsequent cognitive assessments. Several psychological studies indicate that, in certain situations, humor can reduce tension and lead to a feeling of relief. In the literature on service management, however, the effect of humor in appeasing disgruntled consumers when services break down is almost unexplored. This paper seeks to answer the question: Can humor have a positive effect in such situations, leading to greater “leniency” on the part of the injured party, or does it intensify the consumer’s negative experience of the service? We do this by analyzing consumer reactions to humor as a tool for “service recovery”. We conduct a number of vignette experiments, the results of which confirm the positive effects of self-deprecating humor on customers, but at the same time show that the humor has to be experienced as particularly funny, otherwise it is less effective than traditional service recovery tools, such as a sincere apology or financial (or other) compensation.
Korkeamäki, L., M. Kohtamäki and V. Parida (2021): Worth the risk? The profit impact of outcome-based service offerings for manufacturing firms, Journal of Business Research, 131(), pp.92-102
Because research on outcome-based service offerings (OBS) is very case study oriented, we lack empirical knowledge of OBS provider profitability in general. Drawing upon an unbalanced panel dataset (n = 1566, N = 14,756), we found that an average OBS provider manufacturer has a 4.40-percentage-point higher gross margin than an average non-OBS manufacturer. In addition, we found that large OBS providers generate lower profits. Since OBS offerings are complex and highly customized, scaling them is a challenge that requires investments in digital technologies and solution modularity. Thus, we tested the moderating role of R&D investments on the scale-profitability relationship and found that for OBS firms, R&D investments moderate the negative relationship between scale and profitability. For managers, these results highlight the profit potential of OBS but also that large OBS providers in particular must be prepared to invest in digital servitization to ensure profitability.
Li, X., C. Wang and J. Hamari (2021): Frontline employees’ compliance with fuzzy requests: A request–appraisal–behavior perspective, Journal of Business Research, 131(), pp.55-68
While fuzzy requests from customers are pervasive in service encounters, it is lacking understanding of how to manage these kind of requests. By combining health belief model and theory of planned behavior, this study proposes a request–appraisal–behavior paradigm to elucidate frontline employees’ compliance with fuzzy requests. The research model is empirically examined with data collected from 256 frontline restaurant employees. The results show that compliance behavior is negatively influenced by conflict susceptibility, request severity, and punishment expectation, but positively influenced by satisfaction reward expectation, customer orientation norms, and job autonomy. The moderating effects of customer orientation norms and job autonomy on the relationships among satisfaction reward expectation (punishment expectation) and compliance behavior are also demonstrated. This study is among the first theoretical explorations of compliance behavior toward customer’ fuzzy requests. It also offers effective strategies for service providers and frontline employees to manage and cope with fuzzy requests.
Lin, Y.-H., F.-J. Lin and K.-H. Wang (2021): The effect of social mission on service quality and brand image, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.744-752
In recent years, social enterprise issues have developed rapidly both in Taiwan and around the world. Consequently, social enterprises utilize several different business models and are hybrid organizations that need to pursue both profit and a social mission and to adopt good practices in their operations. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to examine the relationships among social mission, service quality and brand image in a social enterprise. Data were collected from 316 customers by Come True Coffee in February 2018. A structural equation model (SEM) was used to examine the relationships among the research variables and identify the final model. The results show that the social mission improves the service quality and brand image. Moreover, the social mission of a social enterprise is an important issue in terms of encouraging consumers to feel concern. Finally, service quality is a moderating factor for a social mission in regard to brand image. The outcomes of this study could help a social enterprise’s managers better understand the relationships among the social mission, service quality and brand image.
Mittal, S. and D. H. Silvera (2021): It grows on you: Perceptions of sales/service personnel with facial hair, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.604-613
• Facial hair is used as a cue of masculinity, but has not been examined in sales. • Facial hair on male sales personnel drives increased perceptions of expertise. • Increased ratings of expertise drive perceptions of trust and purchase likelihood. • Five studies conducted using a variety of male ethnicities and sales contexts. • Sporting a beard in a sales/service role may be beneficial to sales outcomes. Service and sales personnel researchers have long been interested in the effects of physical appearance on sales and service outcomes. In the current work, we examine a specific physical feature—facial hair. Interestingly, evolutionary psychologists have found that facial hair does not consistently increase perceived attractiveness (Dixson & Vasey, 2012; Dixson, Vasey, & Brooks, 2013), but it does serve as an indicator of masculine traits. The present research examines how males with beards are perceived in a sales/service specific context. We present five studies, in which the power of the beard (versus other facial hair styles or no hair) is evident. Sales personnel with a beard are perceived as having more expertise across various industries; furthermore, increased perceptions of expertise predict higher ratings of trustworthiness and, subsequently, increase consumers’ purchase likelihood.
Shin, E. and J. E. Lee (2021): What makes consumers purchase apparel products through social shopping services that social media fashion influencers have worn?, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.416-428
Given the huge success of fashion influencer marketing in the social media context, it is important to understand which image components of social media fashion influencers (SMFI) are effective in the new fashion adoption process when using a social shopping service such as LIKE to KNOW. it. Using a 2 × 2 between-subject design in two studies, we investigated the joint effects of apparel product type (novel vs. familiar) and the degree of the SMFIs’ high socioeconomic status (HSS) (moderately vs. extremely) on consumers’ intentional mimicry consumption process from the curiosity perspective. The results showed that for SMFIs with moderately HSS, consumers’ curiosity was higher for novel than familiar fashion products. In contrast, for SMFIs with extremely HSS, consumers had a similarly high level of curiosity for both novel and familiar products. Further, product curiosity was positively related to purchase intentions and intentions to use the social shopping service.
Taylor, M., R. Jack, T. Madsen and M. A. Alam (2021): The nature of service characteristics and their impact on internationalization: A multiple case study of born global firms, Journal of Business Research, 132(), pp.517-529
The born global literature often assumes a uniform pattern of internationalization across manufacturing and service-based firms. However, this view pays little attention to the nature of service characteristics and how they shape the international expansion of born global firms. This paper thus explores the internationalization of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ service-based born global firms. Our multiple case study analysis (on three ‘hard’ and five ‘soft’ service firms) of born global firms differentiates between the internationalization pathways of these firms. We show that ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ service-based born global firms have different internationalization drivers, target different foreign markets, and have distinct entry modes in these markets. Our findings reveal that, soft service-based born global firms are particularly unique, initially entering markets by low-commitment entry modes before rapidly progressing to a high-control mode of entry.
Akter, S., S. F. Wamba, M. Mariani and U. Hani (2021): How to Build an AI Climate-Driven Service Analytics Capability for Innovation and Performance in Industrial Markets?, Industrial Marketing Management, 97(), pp.258-273
AI climate-driven service analytics capability has been anecdotally argued as a viable strategy to enhance service innovation and market performance in B2B markets. While AI climate refers to the shared perceptions of policies, procedures, and practices to support AI initiatives, cognitive service analytics capability refers to the analytical insights driven by AI climate and augmented by both machines and humans to make marketing decisions. However, there is limited knowledge on the antecedents of such analytics capabilities and their overall effects on service innovation and market performance. Drawing on service analytics literature and the microfoundations of dynamic capability theory, this study fills this research gap using in-depth interviews (n = 30) and a survey (n = 276) of service analytics managers within the AI climate in Australia. The findings confirm the five microfoundations of cognitive service analytics capabilities (cognitive technology, cognitive information, cognitive problem solving, cognitive knowledge & skills, cognitive training & development). The findings also highlight the significant mediating effect of service innovation in the relationship between analytics climate and market performance and cognitive service analytics capability and market performance. • AI climate is opening new analytics frontiers in industrial marketing • We confirm five microfoundations of cognitive service analytics capability. • We show how AI climate driven analytics influence innovation and performance.
Gansser, O. A., S. Boßow-Thies and B. Krol (2021): Creating trust and commitment in B2B services, Industrial Marketing Management, 97(), pp.274-285
In an ever-changing environment, business relationships are becoming increasingly complex. This particularly applies to the business-to-business (B2B) service sector due to its intangible nature. The combination of personal and organizational relationships further increases this complexity. However, trust can reduce uncertainty and complexity and help maintain commitment. Based on structural equation modeling and a sample of 1692 participants, this study provides insights into the drivers of trust in organizations and salespersons and their impact on commitment. The results show that both are important, but trust in a salesperson far surpasses the effect of trust in an organization. Furthermore, reputation and service quality influence trust in an organization, while social skills and low selling orientation affect trust in a salesperson. In summary, to the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to provide a comprehensive trust model in the B2B service market, and it might serve as a guide for future research. • Comprehensive model of the different dimensions (inter-organizational and inter-personal) of trust in the B2B service market. • Focus on drivers of trust in salespersons and trust in organizations. • Structural equation modeling with a sample of 1692 participants.
Balthu, K. C. and B. Clegg (2021): Improving professional service operations: action research in a law firm, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, 41(6), pp.805-829
Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how action research-based interventions can effect change in a complex and challenging professional service environment (Lewis and Brown, 2012). This paper presents a successful way to do this. First, by eliciting factors for change driven by deregulation in the United Kingdom’s (UK) legal service sector (Falconer, 2005). Second, by designing and implementing context-sensitive change in a selected legal service firm. Design/methodology/approach: This research adopts a participatory action research methodology involving the use of systems thinking (namely the PrOH modelling methodology) to design suitable interventions and catalyse change. Findings: This study has generated new knowledge on three fronts–to the legal service operations, to methodology and to the intellectual framework used for abductive reasoning (Checkland and Poulter, 2006). Lessons are transferable to wider professional service operations research. Findings indicate, despite traditional challenges of delivering typical professional services, there is potential for rationalising processes and service delivery commodification, mainly in the low volume, high variety legal service typology (Silvestro et al., 1992). Research limitations/implications: This research uses data from an in-depth study of a single organisation. Practical implications: This research helped legal service professionals to improve overall efficiency and effectiveness and create new management tools. Social implications: This research could help improve legal service operations and make them more accessible. Originality/value: This research applies a novel, systems thinking based methodology for the first time in a complex professional service operations environment leading to three-fold contributions in the areas of practice, theory and methodology. The paper uses a change management framework (the Change Kaleidoscope), a soft systems methodology (PrOH modelling) and applies these to legal services.
Altman, D., G. B. Yom-Tov, M. Olivares, S. Ashtar and A. Rafaeli (2021): Do Customer Emotions Affect Agent Speed? An Empirical Study of Emotional Load in Online Customer Contact Centers, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 23(4), pp.854-875
Problem definition: Research in operations management has focused mainly on system-level load, ignoring the fact that service agents and customers express a variety of emotions that may impact service processes and outcomes. We introduce the concept of emotional load—the emotional demands that customer behaviors impose on service agents—to analyze how customer emotions affect service worker’s behavior. Academic/practical relevance: Most theories in organizational behavior literature predict that emotions expressed by customers reduce agent’s cognitive abilities and therefore, should reduce the agent’s speed (e.g., by increasing the service time required to serve an angry customer). We aim to shed light on the magnitude of that phenomenon while addressing important econometric challenges. We also investigate an important mechanism that drives this relation, namely agent effort. We discuss practical opportunities that arise from measuring emotional load and how it can be used to enhance productivity. Methodology: We measure the emotional load of agents using sentiment analysis tools that quantify positive/negative customer emotion expressions in an online chat-type contact center and link it to agent behavior: response time (RT) and the length and number of messages required to complete a service request. Identifying a causal effect of customer emotion on agent behavior using observational data is challenging because there are confounding factors associated with the complexity of service requests, which are related to both customer emotions and agent behavior. Our identification strategy uses panel data and exploits the variation across messages within a focal request using fixed effects to control for unobserved factors associated with case complexity. Instrumental variables are also used to address issues of measurement error and other endogeneity problems; the instruments are based on exogenous shocks to agent performance indicators that have been studied in the service operations literature. Results: Analyses show that emotional load created by negative customer emotions increases agent RT, the length of the agent messages (a measure of effort), and the required number of messages needed to complete a service request. Emotional load and agent RT reciprocally affect each other, with long agent RTs and a high number of messages producing more negative customer emotion. Managerial implications: We suggest that the emotional content in customer communications should be an important factor to consider when assigning workload to agents in a service system. Our study provides a rigorous methodology to measure the emotional content from customer text messages and objectively evaluate its associated workload. We discuss how this can be used to improve staffing decisions and dynamic workload routing through real-time monitoring of emotional load.
Bavafa, H. and J. O. Jónasson (2021): Recovering from Critical Incidents: Evidence from Paramedic Performance, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 23(4), pp.914-932
Problem definition: In service operations settings where the difficulty of jobs is unpredictable, workers can encounter critical incidents (CIs)—jobs that are sufficiently disturbing to challenge workers’ coping mechanisms. We examine the impact of encountering CIs on subsequent operational performance of workers. Academic/practical relevance: Prior work has examined the effects of CIs on the long-term psychological health of workers. We demonstrate that encountering CIs has a practically meaningful impact on operational performance. We also examine the time-dependency and process-dependency of the effect and analyze whether it is mitigated by individual characteristics such as age or experience. Methodology: We use data on 902,002 ambulance activations conducted by paramedics at the London Ambulance Service (LAS). We define CIs as incidents where patients have a high probability of dying at the scene and examine the impact of such events on the paramedics’ performance for the remainder of their shifts. Our outcomes are the completion time of the ambulance activation and each of its five subprocesses. The exogenous assignment of CIs to paramedic crews allows a clean identification of our effect using a shift-level difference-in-differences specification. Results: Crews who have encountered one prior CI (two prior CIs) spend on average 2.6% (7.5%) more time completing each remaining ambulance activation in the shift. The impact is strongest for the jobs immediately following a CI but persists throughout the shift. The largest effects come from the subprocesses that are least standardized and where paramedics cannot rely on standard operating procedures. The duration effect is larger for teams of older paramedics but is simultaneously mitigated by experience. Managerial implications: Our results show that CIs increase subsequent job duration and that more than one CIs have a compounding, negative effect on operational performance. As a result, managers in settings where performance consistency is key would be advised not to assign new jobs to teams with recent CI experiences.
Buell, R. W., E. Porter and M. I. Norton (2021): Surfacing the Submerged State: Operational Transparency Increases Trust in and Engagement with Government, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 23(4), pp.781-802
Problem definition: As trust in government reaches historic lows, frustration with government performance approaches record highs. Academic/practical relevance: We propose that in coproductive settings such as government services, people’s trust and engagement levels can be enhanced by designing service interactions to allow them to see the often-hidden work—via increasing operational transparency—being performed in response to their engagement. Methodology and results: Three studies, conducted in the field and laboratory, show that surfacing the submerged state through operational transparency impacts citizens’ attitudes and behavior. Study 1 leveraged proprietary data from a mobile phone application developed by the City of Boston, Massachusetts, through which residents submit service requests; the city’s goal was to increase engagement with the app. Users who received photographs of government addressing their service requests submitted 60% more requests and in 38% more categories over the ensuing 13 months than users who did not receive photographs. These significant increases in engagement persisted for 11 months following users’ initial exposure to operational transparency and were highest for users who had experienced government to be at least moderately responsive to their requests in the past. In study 2, residents of Boston who interacted with a website that visualized both service requests (e.g., potholes and broken street lamps) and efforts by the city’s government to address those requests became 14% more trusting and 12% more supportive of government. Moreover, residents who received additional transparency into the growing backlog of service requests that government was failing to fulfill, revealing government to be less responsive, were no more nor less trusting and supportive of government than residents who received no transparency. Study 3 replicated findings from the first two studies and documented underlying mechanisms: operational transparency increases trust and engagement by two causal pathways—through consumers’ increased perceptions of effort by the government and through increased perceptions that engaging with it is impactful. Responsiveness increases feelings of personal efficacy, which boosts willingness to engage both directly and indirectly through the other causal paths. Managerial implications: Taken together, our results suggest that showing more work performed by government—via operational transparency—encourages people to do more work themselves. These results have implications for the design of a broad array of coproductive services where operations are hidden and consumer trust and engagement are critical.
Meng, L., R. J. Batt and C. Terwiesch (2021): The Impact of Facility Layout on Service Worker Behavior: An Empirical Study of Nurses in the Emergency Department, Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 23(4), pp.819-834
Problem definition: We study the impact of service facility layout on how service workers organize their tasks. We focus on the hospital emergency department (ED) as a service setting in which nurses (servers) have discretion over how they interact with patients (customers) in a facility that introduces significant heterogeneity in necessary walking distance. Academic/practical relevance: Prior studies on facility layout in operations have largely focused on the direct effect of transit times on reduced productivity. We extend this work to show how skilled service workers such as nurses adapt their work behavior to enhance their productivity in response to facility layout constraints. Methodology: To study this empirically, we utilize a unique data set consisting of infrared nurse location tracking data, patient electronic medical record data, bedside patient call data, and the architectural floor plan of a large academic ED. Results: Nurses working in a busy ED appear to reduce their walking distance by batching their tasks to distant patient rooms. Although the patients in these rooms receive the same amount of care time, this behavior results in longer wait times between nurse visits and more nurse call button activations, but it does not compromise the overall quality of care delivered. Nurse call button use is linked with poor patient satisfaction and interrupts nurse workflow. Managerial implications: These findings show that even in services, facility layout can lead to servers using task timing discretion in ways that help the server but lead to a additional waiting time for the customer. We propose countering the negative effects of distance-based task batching through proactive nurse rounding and operational transparency.
Bavafa, H., S. Savin and C. Terwiesch (2021): Customizing Primary Care Delivery Using E‐Visits, Production & Operations Management, (), pp.1
Technologies that enable “e‐visits”—remote interactions between patients and physicians—are touted as a way to improve and expand primary care. We study a setting in which a physician can divert some of the patient demand away from the office visits and into the e‐visits, which utilize less of the physician’s service capacity while maintaining an appropriate quality of care. We explicitly model a distinguishing feature of primary care settings: patient office revisit intervals are determined jointly by the physician and her patients. Using our model, we identify settings where patients and physicians adopt e‐visits. We analytically characterize the impact of e‐visits on key system outcomes: panel size, patient health, and physician compensation. Notably, we identify settings—defined in terms of patient panel features, parameters of primary care delivery, and physician compensation scheme—in which at least one of the system outcomes suffers under e‐visits. Our modeling approach highlights the importance of considering patient and physician responses to primary care interventions to understand their full impact.
Zhao, X., H. Guo, G. Cai and S. Bandyopadhyay (2021): The Role of Expectation–Reality Discrepancy in Service Contracts, Production & Operations Management, (), pp.1
Service contracts are common practice in some industries while being eliminated in others. To investigate this phenomenon, we identify expectation–reality discrepancy (ERD) as a key determinant. A provider’s ERD is defined as consumers’ ex‐ante expected valuation minus their ex‐post realized valuation of the provider’s service. Our analysis reveals that providers’ contract strategies critically depend on their ERDs rather than the true service valuations. A provider with a higher ERD is more likely to enforce contracts, regardless of whether the true service valuation is higher than that of the competitor. Providers should enforce contracts only when they have positive ERDs. Furthermore, contracts have a competition‐intensifying effect: when providers enforce contracts, their competition on promoting consumer expectations through marketing efforts is intensified, leading to higher ERDs with contracts than without contracts. Finally, consumers and society as a whole may benefit from higher switching costs because positive ERDs may mislead consumers to make wrong switching decisions and switching costs can help deter such switching behaviors.