Your New Colleague is a Robot! The Influence of Anthropomorphized Service Robot on Employees’ Service Performance and Consumers’ Satisfaction

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    With the advancement of technology, anthropomorphized robots that imitate human appearances and behaviors are clearly on the rise in everyday environments. This is particularly true in the service frontline, where robots nowadays can behave, interact, and think like humans in providing service to consumers. For example, Hilton developed an artificially intelligent concierge named Connie, who is able to interact with visitors and respond to queries.

    The increasing utilization of service robots has been reshaping not only the service frontline but also the workplace. While not all occupations can be replaced by service robots right now, technological replacement has been progressing, meaning that it will become increasingly likely for robots to work alongside humans for a long period of time. Although emerging research mainly focuses on consumers’ direct reactions toward service robots, this research takes a novel perspective to investigate how the presence of an anthropomorphized service robot affects service employees’ psychological reaction, which in turn influences employees’ service performance.

    Research has suggested that anthropomorphized robots in service can be categorized as emotional-social robots, which are often used in frontline service like concierge, and cognitive- analytical robots, which often provide analytical service to consumers. According to anthropomorphism research, when anthropomorphized entities are introduced to the workplace, people tend to react to them like how they would react to real humans. People usually judge other humans along two dimensions, namely warmth and competence, and tend to be more threatened by those who share the same features (e.g., competence expertise). Therefore, when an emotional-social robot is introduced to the workplace, it would be perceived as high in warmth, and those who also have a similar warmth expertise would feel more threatened. In contrast, those who have competence expertise would be more threatened by a cognitive-analytical robot which is perceived as high in competence. This competition threat increases workplace anxiety, leading to cognitive interference and lower attentional resources in service. We therefore propose that the presence of an anthropomorphized service robot with the same expertise would increase workplace anxiety, which in turn lowers employees’ service performance and consumers’ satisfaction.

    Workplace anxiety, however, may also motivate employees to vigilantly monitor themselves and use feedback to enhance their future work performance in the long run. Thus, we further predict that while employees having higher workplace anxiety due to presence of a robot with similar expertise may initially perform worse, they would seek feedback to perform better and increase consumer satisfaction when they perform the same service task again in future.

    Following the aforementioned propositions, we also propose a moderator that would attenuate the effect and confirm the mechanism. If employees’ workplace anxiety induced by competition threat indeed underlies the effect on service performance, a cooperation mindset (e.g., working together with robots as a team) would lower anxiety which in turn attenuates the proposed effect. Laboratory and field experiments will be conducted to test our proposed effects and examine the underlying mechanism.
    Effective start/end date1/07/1931/12/22


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