Hurting or helping? The effect of service agents’ workplace ostracism on customer service perceptions

Echo Wen Wan, Wa Kimmy Chan, Rocky Peng Chen*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)
    122 Downloads (Pure)


    Extant research confirms the importance of cocreating value with customers in service marketing, yet little is known about the impact of service agents’ work experiences on customers’ service perceptions. This research examines how service agents’ workplace ostracism from different sources (supervisors versus coworkers) influences customers’ perceived coproduction value, perceived service performance, and actual purchases. Three laboratory experiments and one survey reveal a double-edged sword effect of workplace ostracism and its contingency such that (1) supervisor ostracism reduces customers’ perceived control value in customer–agent coproduction through threatening service agents’ efficacy needs when the agents experience low servicing empowerment; (2) coworker ostracism enhances customers’ perceived relational value in coproduction through threatening service agents’ relational needs when they expect a long-term relationship with customers; and (3) customers’ perceived control and relational values increase their perceived service performance, and customer relational value also increases the amount of purchases. Our findings reveal that service agents’ workplace ostracism may actually help or harm customers’ service perceptions, depending on the source of ostracism. The results provide significant implications for how organizations can better manage employees’ perceived ostracism in the workplace and strategically improve customers’ experience in service coproduction with excluded agents.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)746-769
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
    Issue number6
    Early online date21 Nov 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2016

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Business and International Management
    • Economics and Econometrics
    • Marketing

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Customer control and relational values
    • Customer coproduction
    • Customer service perceptions
    • Efficacy and relational needs
    • Workplace ostracism


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