Servant leadership and customer service performance: testing social learning and social exchange-informed motivational pathways

Samuel Aryee, Hsin-Hua Hsiung, Hyun Young Jo*, Chih-Hsun Chuang, Yu-Ching Chiao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Drawing on social learning and social exchange theories, we examined a moderated mediation model of the processes through which servant leadership relates to customer service performance. Across two studies, we examined whether frontline employees’ customer-centric attitude (social learning theory) or gratitude towards the organization (social exchange theory) mediates the servant leadership-customer service performance relationship. Additionally, in Study 2, we examined whether initiative climate constitutes a boundary condition of the relationships between the two motivational drivers and customer service performance. Data were obtained from a sample of South Korean (Study 1) and Taiwanese (Study 2) frontline employees. In Study 1, customer-centric attitude and gratitude towards the organization mediate the relationship between servant leadership and service performance but only gratitude towards the organization mediates the servant leadership-customer-directed extra-role performance. The findings of Study 2 reveal that gratitude towards the organization, but not customer-centric attitude mediates the relationship between servant leadership and service performance. Contrary to our prediction, initiative climate did not moderate the relationships between the two motivational drivers and service performance. In sum, our findings provide initial evidence of the importance of social exchange relative to social learning theory in accounting for the customer service performance implications of servant leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-519
Number of pages14
JournalEUROPEAN JOURNAL OF WORK AND ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY
Volume32
Issue number4
Early online date16 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Servant leadership
  • gratitude
  • customer-centric attitudes
  • customer service performance

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