Although the degree of mutual involvement varies with the type of service, employees and customers share the responsibility for successful service outcomes.
We define shared and participatory management as mutual dependence or accountability for the success of a service outcome, through verbal and physical efforts by the parties directly involved in the service exchange. Willing and competent frontline employees are essential for creating a successful service exchange (Bowen 1990; Salanova, Agut, and Peiró 2005). During a service encounter, employee performance characteristics often are perceived by customers as more important than the core service (Ozment and Morash 1994). Behaviours and attitudes displayed by employees influence customers’ emotional responses and perceptions of service quality. However, employees represent only half of the service exchange dyad, and customers may share responsibility for generating successful service outcomes. Consequently, customers can be viewed as “partial employees” in service exchanges because they contribute to both technical (i.e., what they do) and functional (i.e., how they do it) service quality. The expectations, attitudes, and behaviours customers bring to a service encounter can also positively or negatively affect their overall service experience (Yagil 2001).
Services can be described by the nature of the service act (tangible versus intangible) and by the recipient of the service (people versus things) (Lovelock 1983). These categories help determine the service content and whether customer needs to be physically or mentally present during the production of a service. If customers need to be present during the service delivery, then they are more likely to become part of the service production process. In-person services can be tailored to individual consumer needs based on customer input, effort, and feedback, which implies that customers share the responsibility for service outcomes. For services such as full-service restaurants and annual physical exams, customers understand that their physical and mental efforts in the service exchange are required for a successful transaction. Such efforts can create customer perceptions of shared and participatory management for the service outcome. When the outcome is successful, the perception of shared and participatory management between the service provider and customer may add value to the service exchange (e.g., favorably affecting service quality perceptions). Some customers respond enthusiastically to service brands when their input and effort are required for a successful outcome; such customers prefer an active over a passive role during service exchanges (Lovelock and Young 1979). An active role reflects a customer’s perception of a shared and participatory management for service outcome success, and understanding the effects of shared and participatory management on customer responses to services is important to service marketers.
An associated idea, the theory of relational cohesion (Lawler, Thye, and Yoon 2000), suggests that the positive emotions generated in social exchanges can become sources of value for participants. Moreover, emotions resulting from social exchanges can influence social relations; that is, emotions are redirected toward individuals and networks of related individuals. Thus, customers who have positive experiences at one service location are predicted to develop loyalty toward the same service brand at other locations due to a positive emotional experience and consequent perceptions of exchange value. Similarly, negative emotions generated at one service location may adversely affect loyalty to that service brand at other locations. Research examining the afore mentioned frameworks is scant. One exception found that emotional responses to service providers mediate the relationship between shared and participatory management and service brand loyalty (Sierra and McQuitty 2005).
When the customer has an increased role in the service exchange, service employees have an opportunity to make the customer a more relevant partner in the service transaction by increasing their perceptions of shared and participatory management for the outcomes. These perceptions in social exchanges may lead to social relationships, which become sources of emotions for those involved in the exchange (Lawler 2001).
Emotions are essential for understanding consumer motivations and behaviour, especially in-service contexts. Service customers’ positive emotional responses can be triggered by their level of accountability for creating successful exchange outcomes (Gustafsson, Johnson, and Roos 2005), or when they perceive their contribution is necessary for a successful service exchange (Bailey, Gremler, and McCollough 2001). Consumers connect causes or attributions to emotional outcomes (Oliver 1989), such as when post consumption emotions evoke specific affective states (e.g., customer happiness or frustration) that depend on the success or failure of the service (Weiner, Russell, and Lerman 1979). Similarly, service customers’ perceptions of their degree of contribution to a service exchange will affect their emotional response toward the service provider.