Servant leadership and proactive customer service performance in the Hong Kong Hospitality Industry

  • CHIANG, Flora (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Proactive customer service performance (PCSP) is critical to hospitality organizations, especially for hotels competing through customer service excellence strategies. The failure of front-line service employees to act proactively when serving customers may not only adversely affect the quality of service provided but, ultimately, the competitiveness of the organization. However, despite its importance, we know little about how and why front-line service employees may act proactively to satisfy customer service demands and expectations. The proposed study intends to draw on social learning theory and the model of proactive motivation to examine and better understand the implications of servant leadership on employee PCSP in the hotel industry and how such a relationship might be mediated by front-line service employees’ motivational pathways (i.e., self-efficacy, felt obligation, and harmonious passion). Several contributions to theory and practice are intended:

    (i) we intend to advance the proactive motivation and hospitality management literatures by examining a potentially important antecedent (servant leadership) of PCSP. Although servant leadership has been shown to be more relevant to customer service related behavior than other forms of leadership (Brownell, 2010), an over-emphasis in prior research on the influence of other forms of leadership (Rank et al., 2007) restricts our understanding of how employees might learn from and react to leader behaviors more conducive to the ‘service’ setting (i.e., the hospitality industry).

    (ii) whereas prior research on servant leadership is mainly based on social exchange and justice perspectives to explain its relational outcomes (e.g., trust, LMX, commitment), such as citizenship behavior (e.g., Liden et al., 2008; Mayer et al., 2008), we intend to add to the servant leadership literature by examining the under-researched area of motivational outcomes (e.g., PCSP) (c.f., van Dierendonck, 2011).

    (iii) by investigating the potential mediating effects of three motivational pathways, we also intend to shed new light on the mechanisms or underlying process through which servant leadership influences employees’ PCSP.

    (iv) since few, if any, studies have been conducted in the hospitality context (particularly in Asia), we intend to offer novel insights into a setting which because of its own unique characteristics and operational environment warrants greater attention.

    In sum, a better understanding of how and why front-line service employees may act proactively to satisfy customer service demands and expectations is therefore not only important to scholars of hospitality management but also to the long-term competitiveness of one of Hong Kong’s pillar industries – the hospitality industry
    Effective start/end date1/10/1430/09/16


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