Service employees' reactions to mistreatment by customers : A comparison between North America and East Asia

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-59
Journal / PublicationPersonnel Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


The authors proposed that customer service employees' reactions to mistreatment by customers can vary between North American and East Asian employees due to differences in their cultural values. Customer mistreatment was predicted to be associated with direct, active, and target-specific reactions (i.e., sabotage directed toward the source of mistreatment) more so among North American employees as compared to East Asian employees. In contrast, customer mistreatment was predicted to relate to more indirect, passive, and target-general reactions (i.e., withdraw organizational citizenship behavior directed toward customers in general) among employees in East Asia as compared to employees in North America. A field study of customer service employees (N = 213) working in the same hotel chain in China and Canada found support for these predictions. Mediation analyses showed that individualism and collectivism accounted for these differences. Theoretical and practical implications are provided, and future directions are discussed. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.