نقش جو خدمات سازمانی در ایجاد کنترل و توانمندسازی در میان کارگران و مشتریان
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|5266||2002||12 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Volume 9, Issue 4, July 2002, Pages 215–226
Previous studies have found a relationship between service climate and customers’ satisfaction. This paper presents two studies that used structural equation modeling to examine the role of control and empowerment in mediating this relationship. In the first study, questionnaires were administered to 113 pairs of customers and service workers. The results show that service climate is related to a customer's satisfaction through the mediation of a service worker's self-reported control of the service situation. In the second study, the service worker's sense of empowerment was predicted with service climate and the supervisor's empowering behavior. The data was gathered with questionnaires administered to 255 workers in service roles. Service climate was found to have a positive effect on empowering leadership behaviors of the service worker's supervisor which, in turn, enhance the service worker's sense of empowerment. The results are discussed in regard to the role of control and empowerment in service organizations.
The first study examines workers’ and customers’ perceived control over the service situation in relation to service climate, on the one hand, and customers’ satisfaction with the service, on the other. People are characterized by a desire to maintain control over events (Burger, 1992). More specifically, Basso et al. (1994) distinguish between a general need to control one's physical and social environment and the specific need to control other people. Whereas people differ in their desire for personal control (Burger, 1992), there is evidence for the positive effects of perceived control, especially in regard to coping with stress (for example, Paterson and Neufeld, 1995). In the organizational context, several authors have suggested that workers’ control is essential in service organizations due to the unique characteristics of the service situation. Bowen and Lawler (1992), for example, maintain that service workers should be allowed increased independence in the performance of their jobs when the service organization does not operate in a purely production-line fashion, in which routine encounters with customers are pre-planned and script-based as in the case of some fast-food chains. Schneider and Bowen (1995) suggest that a strong organizational climate is more important in service organizations than in manufacturing organizations. Since service workers frequently operate on their own, face to face with a customer, it is impossible for managers to observe and correct their behavior. Therefore, “in a service business the climate or culture of the work environment must serve as the guide for employees’ behavior” (Schneider and Bowen, 1995, p. 237). Along with a dominant service climate, the unique characteristics of the service role require that the service worker will be authorized to practice self-direction and self-management in a wide range of situations. Since a strong service-oriented organizational climate can substitute some aspects of managerial control of workers’ performance, organizations with a strong service climate are likely to provide service workers with a higher level of personal control. Furthermore, Kelley (1993) implies that a strong organizational culture can point employees towards appropriate means of task performance. A weak service climate, on the other hand, results in a service encounter that is managed through bureaucratic rules reducing workers and customer's perceived control (Bateson, 1985). The relationship between control by workers and customer satisfaction was acknowledged by several authors. For example, Bateson (1985) posits that service workers are better able to satisfy customers’ needs when workers have some control over the service encounter. Indeed, Bitner et al. (1990) found that customers are more satisfied with the service when workers are able to adapt to their special needs and requests. Stewart et al. (1996), studying the performance of service workers, found that training for self-direction improved the performance of low-consciousness employees. The latitude of control in the service situation was found to be important not just for the service worker, but also for the customer. Hui and Bateson (1991) found that customers’ perceived ability to make certain choices in service settings was positively related to their sense of pleasure, and concluded that the perceived control concept can play a significant role in the exploration of ways to create a more pleasant service experience for customers. Van Raaij and Pruyn (1998) provide an attributional explanation for the significance of customers’ being in control: the customer's control over the service, as well as his or her satisfaction with the service, are related to a sense of responsibility; thus, through the effect of self-serving biases, the customer's control is related to the justification of the service engagement as well as to a positive perception of service outcomes. Furthermore, both the service provider and the customer use influence tactics (i.e., ingratiation and assertiveness) to affect the other party's behavior and gain control over the service situation. These means of gaining control are affected by the organizational service climate and, in turn, affect the customer's satisfaction with the service (Yagil, 2001). The relationship between organizational culture and customer satisfaction has been examined with regard to service workers’ perception of their role, skills, and work environment (Klein et al., 1995; Hartline and Ferrell, 1996). In light of the interactive nature of service encounters, the purpose of the first study we conducted was to examine the mediating role of both workers’ and customers’ perceived control of the service situation, on the relationship between the worker's perception of the service climate, on the one hand, and the customer's satisfaction, on the other. The service climate was expected to be positively related to both workers’ and customers’ control of the service situation. Control experienced by both parties was expected, in turn, to be positively related to customers’ satisfaction with the service.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The studies presented in this paper were designed to jointly contribute to the understanding of the separate roles of control and empowerment in service encounters. Control was examined in relation to customer satisfaction whereas empowerment was examined in relation to leadership behavior. The effect of organizational service climate was examined with regard to both control and empowerment. Service climate was found to have a positive effect on workers’ empowerment and sense of control of the service situation. Control of the situation, in turn, was found to have a positive influence on customers’ satisfaction. The positive relationship between service climate and the service worker's sense of control suggests that when workers performance is influenced by a strong climate for service, there is less need for a close review of workers’ behavior, and consequently the service worker experiences increased independence. Thus, a strong service climate “enables” the organization to give up control mechanisms that are necessary when the organizational climate and a service culture are less dominant. Similarly to previous findings (Schneider et al., 1998), our analyses of the relationship between service climate and customer satisfaction suggest the possibility of a reciprocal relationship mediated by the service worker's control. Service workers’ control of the service situation is likely to create a positive disposition toward customers, and can increase their willingness to adopt organizational values and rules stemming from a “passion for service”. The results regarding the effect of workers’ control on customers’ satisfaction support the managerial approach advocated by Schneider and Bowen (1995), i.e., that service-oriented organizations encourage self-direction among their employees. Our results also provide some support for their assertion that the organizational climate experienced by the service worker will be reflected in the treatment that the customer will receive from the worker. A service worker who feels in control of the quality and the process of the service is more likely to act in ways that enhance the customer's sense of control. On the other hand, when the worker experiences lack of control, he or she might seek to compensate for this situation through increased domination of the relationship with the customer, by dictating the service process or limiting the customer's involvement. A similar “chain effect” of empowerment was described by Parker and Price (1994), who found that empowered managers who have a high level of control over decision-making and are supportive tend to empower their subordinates. Somewhat contrary to previous findings (Hui and Bateson, 1991), customers’ control over the service situation was not found in the first study to significantly affect customers’ satisfaction with the service. The zero-order correlation between customers’ control and their satisfaction with the service was positive and significant, yet when examined as part of a structural model this path was accounted for mainly by other factors, although the relationship between these two variables was still positive. A possible explanation for the different results is related to the measures of satisfaction employed in the two studies. Whereas Hui and Bateson measured satisfaction with customers’ report of the pleasantness of the service experience and approach-avoidance, the present study measured customer's satisfaction with regard to specified service attributes. In other words, the customers in Hui and Bateson's study reported an overall emotional reaction to the service, whereas customers in the present study provided a more specific reaction considered to have both cognitive and emotional components (Oliver, 1997). Despite the differences between the studies, the results of the Hui and Bateson and the present study also suggest a complementary pattern. Whereas the experience of control contributes to the general pleasantness of the service situation, it is not necessarily taken into consideration when customers are requested to consider their satisfaction with regard to specific service dimensions. Such an evaluation is likely to be more strongly related to the quality of the service process and the service worker's behaviors than to the customer's control of the situation. The results of an alternative model that was examined in the first study suggest that customers’ satisfaction with the service increases their sense of control. Although no cause-effect relationships can be concluded with certainty from the present study, customers’ control might be a result rather than a cause of satisfaction. A possible explanation is that customers make an internal attribution to a successful service (Oliver and DeSarbo, 1988): A satisfying service which implies success is interpreted as resulting, at least partly, from the customer's ability to control the service process. Howard (1998) has argued that one deterrent to the realization of the “promise of empowerment” in organizations has been that too much attention was paid to the motivational properties of empowerment and too little to other important psychological mechanisms, and that leadership issues have been neglected in this regard. The results of the second study show that service climate positively affects empowering leadership behaviors. Thus, organizational culture is translated into the specific managerial behaviors of participation in decision-making and provision of information to workers. Managers’ support of participative decision-making and provision of information were found to have positive effects on worker's perceived self-determination and competence. These results suggest that such leadership behaviors serve both a psychological function of providing a sense of control and independence and a practical function of improving workers’ professional skills, supporting Keller and Dansereau's (1995) argument that superiors who utilize empowering leadership practices are expected to be viewed as fair by subordinates. 4.1. Limitations and future research This paper describes two studies that used different methodologies. Although all the variables examined in the two studies are of course related to each other due to the overall research goal, and could in principle be all examined in one sample, a different focus and different research questions justified two studies. The research was designed to contribute to the differentiation between “empowerment” and “sense of control”, and to overcome the “common source of error” problem by collecting some of the information from worker-customer dyads, and some from workers only. Nevertheless, this research design inevitably limits the possible conclusions about the relationships among the variables. It would be desirable in future studies to include all the variables in a single study. This would enable a wider picture in regard to the interrelationships among service climate, empowerment, control and customer satisfaction. The samples employed in the studies were convenience samples and do not necessarily represent the broad service sector. Furthermore, since the first study focused on customers who have established long lasting relations with a service provider, it is likely that for some customers this prerequisite limits the variance of satisfaction. More specifically, customers who remain in a relationship with a service provider even when aware of the availability of alternatives, are likely to be satisfied to a certain extent. It would be desirable to identify and include in the study dissatisfied customers who remain in a relationship with a service worker for lack of alternatives, as is the case with some public services or retailers who are dominant in a specific market. Another limitation of the first study is that the measure of service providers’ sense of control has a low internal reliability. This is likely to be due to the small number of items included in the measure. Nevertheless, the measure was used in the lack of an alternative established measure. In light of the acknowledged importance of service provider's control, it would be desirable to develop a measure that would refer to all the relevant aspects of control of the service situation. The studies presented in this paper focused on the variable of control over the service situation as mediating the relationship of service climate with customers’ satisfaction; however, the results show that such control mediates only part of the effect. Further studies should examine other variables that are likely to mediate the relationship between service climate and satisfaction, such as the motivation and commitment of the service worker. The second study revealed differences between perceptions of service climate of workers from the business and public sectors, but the possibility of different structural models of the research variables within each sector could not be further explored due to the sample size. Some differences in terms of service climate and managerial practices most likely exist between organizations from the public and business sectors, and between retail versus other kinds of consumer-oriented enterprises (e.g., Hasenfeld, 1992) and should be further explored in order to better understand the mediating or causative role of empowering leadership behaviors and worker empowerment. 4.2. Implications Positive effects of a service climate on workers’ sense of control in the service situation and on worker empowerment, and indirectly on customer satisfaction, imply that the development and maintenance of a strong organizational service climate is an important managerial objective. Establishing a strong service climate and improving service quality requires the synchronization and continuous application of a variety of efforts at all levels within an organization (e.g., Schneider and Bowen, 1995; Khan, 1997; Lytle et al., 1998). A service culture should be established through the communication of consistent visions and values by top management, through the articulation of service-centered strategies, and through implementation of relevant and when needed innovative human resources policies, operating procedures, and ongoing support efforts, e.g., using service-related performance evaluations, service-contingent rewards, or customer-centered training. As Bowen and Lawler (1992) have suggested, empowerment of service workers is not crucial in all types of organizations. They argue that in “production-line” service organizations where service situations encountered are quite predictable, boundary-spanning employees are supposed to follow clear rules and expectations and have little leeway in how they perform their job. Organizations that provide service through more complex and ambiguous encounters where there are no ready-made solutions are likely to benefit more from empowerment of service workers. In these service situations the informed responses and flexible decisions made by workers in real time will be crucial in implementing the organizational vision in ways that satisfy organizational goals yet also lead to customer satisfaction. It has been argued (e.g., Quinn and Spreitzer, 1997), that workers who lack sufficient freedom to make decisions and have a low sense of empowerment are more likely to avoid taking necessary actions and may opt to follow routine rules which might not be appropriate for the situation at hand (e.g., try to postpone action or contact a supervisor). The results of the first study we conducted suggest that the extent to which workers feel in control over immediate aspects of the service encounter are linked to perceived customer satisfaction. Hence, managers should seek ways to increase workers’ tangible sense of control and enable choice in the service situation. The establishment of an empowering work climate in service or retail organizations should be viewed as a complex and challenging undertaking, given the number of variables and factors that shape managers’ and workers’ service orientation (Lytle et al., 1998) or affect what happens during, prior to, and after service encounters for both workers and customers (Parasuraman et al., 1985). Nevertheless, a prerequisite for the positive effect of service workers’ autonomy and empowerment on their performance is their ability to function effectively without guidance. Thus, training programs of serviced workers, especially those who function in complex situations, should emphasize skills necessary for autonomous functioning in diverse service situation, including anticipation and diagnosis of customer expectations, decision-making, planning work processes, interpersonal skills, and evaluation of outcomes. This study has highlighted the contribution that leadership behaviors of supervisors and local managers can make to employees’ perceptions of empowerment, through the extent to which they encourage participative decision making or provide relevant information to employees. In this regard, several authors (e.g., Randolph, 1995) have argued that traditional organizational hierarchies will be gradually replaced in empowerment-oriented organizations by work teams. As self-managing teams will become more common, the role of team leaders and their ability to implement empowering leadership behaviors will become more crucial. Such activities may include, in addition to those examined in this study, abilities such as coaching, encouraging, providing feedback, or leading by example (Arnold et al., 1997). It follows that consumer-oriented organizations that intend to adopt empowering strategies should seek methods to both assess and in turn develop the existence of such qualities in future or existing leaders. Overall, the present study suggests that attention should be placed on both engendering a general sense of empowerment among team leaders and workers, and on efforts to increase a sense of control over tangible aspects of service encounters; both are likely to be significant for service workers and their organizations and can increase the service workers’ ability to comply with customers’ needs. Organizational practices designated to increase the worker's control, as well as empowering behaviors of supervisors, can demonstrate the organization's commitment to service, thereby accentuating its service oriented message to workers as well as customers.