Linkage research model of Indian hotel industry.

AuthorKansal, Purva
PositionStatistical data - Abstract

Introduction

Customer satisfaction is a challenge in every industry. However, in service industry its performance based nature and unique characteristics i.e. inseparability, intangibility, heterogeneity and perishability (Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985), make the road to customer satisfaction even more treacherous. In service industry the challenge is not only to achieve customer satisfaction but also to maintain it. Being process oriented, any part of the process which satisfies the customer is imitated and becomes a industry norm. Therefore, attempts are made to lend some degree of ambiguity to the process and this has led to researchers and practitioners making an attempt to understand the uniqueness of customer satisfaction processes in services. Past research has indicated that customer satisfaction is a function of not only customer perception of services received but also attitude and behavior of the individuals providing the service (Lovelock, 1983; Rust & Oliver, 1994), climate and encounters (Schmit & Allscheid, 1995; Siehl, Bowen & Pearson, 1992); attitudes and behavior of the service provider (Burke, Borucki& Hurley, 1992; Benjamin Schneider, Gunnarson, & Niles-Jolly, 1994); management commitment (Ahmed & Parasuraman, 1994); employee job satisfaction, self efficacy and adaptability; employee effort (Spiro & Barton, 1990); employee citizenship behavior (Yoon, Beatty & Suh, 2001); value of the firm (Muse, Rutherford, Sharon & Raymond, 2005). Therefore, service quality and customer satisfaction (organizational outcomes) is influenced by multiple organizational functioning variables which interact in a complex way. It is due to this relationship that practitioners follow a varying degree of relationship based approach to doing business rather than hard core transactional approach in service industry (Gutek, Groth & Cherry, 2002). It was within this backdrop that the current study was undertaken to study the possibility of using organizational functioning variables as discriminating variables for organization outcomes and therefore guiding strategy formulation and search for competitive advantage.

Customer Contact Employees

Inseparability and heterogeneity characteristics of services(Parasuraman, et al., 1985) necessitate that the customer be the part of the consumption process and have direct contact with the service provider (Gutek et al., 2002) at multiple points. This means that the employees in the service process especially those in the front stage, become very important components of customers' service quality perception (Hartline, Iii & McKee, 2000). In these industries not only the attitude and behavior of the CCE's (Bowen & Schneider, 1985), but also his emotional state (Anderson, 2006) while providing the service, in customer perception of quality. The importance of behavior of CCEs can be further highlighted from the fact that many researchers have found lack of positive behavior of CCEs to be the reason for failure of service firms (Bitner, 1990; Bowen & Schneider, 1985). Therefore, if managed properly these CCEs can lead to customer satisfaction and be a source of competitive advantage. Furthermore, capability, knowledge, skill and management of the CCEs, are intangible properties of human resource. When acquired these properties lend a certain degree causal ambiguity to the service process (Barney & Wright, 1998). This causal ambiguity in turn makes it difficult for the competitors to imitate the process which in effect helps companies reap benefits of competitive advantage.

Marketing of services literature discusses management of CCEs from three perspectives i.e. manager employee interface, employee role interface and the employee customer interface (Hartline & Ferrell, 1996). However the literature does not explore the relationship of organizational functioning on the functioning of the CCEs and its relationship with the customer judgment of quality. Therefore, the current study has been undertaken to specifically determine the relationship of organizational functioning on service quality of customer contact employees i.e. linkage research model.

Linkage Research Model

To understand elements of organizational functioning that are connected, or linked with organizational outcomes including customer satisfaction and financial performance over a past decade, a new stream of research has developed i.e. Linkage Research (Pugh et al. 2002; Schneider et al.2005). Linkage research provides alternatives for integrating functional areas across the organization, providing managers with a strategic measurement system focusing on serving the customer (Schneider, White & Paul, 1998). The data from linkage studies is used to establish a priority list for improving the practices that matter to customer satisfaction.

In linkages research the relationship approach is used as a basis for hypothesis. This research uses a conceptual model to connect employees to customer and profits. The approach states that employee experience at work is correlated with their services to the customer and that it is these customer experiences that translate into customer satisfaction (Wiley, 1996). The hypothesis of linkage research has been tested and accepted by various researchers in retail and insurance industry. These are industries which are more encounter based industries (Gutek et al., 2002). Researchers found that when employees rated certain human resource management practices favorably, customers had more positive service experiences (Chahal & Mehta, 2011; ChiungJu & Lung-Chun, 2006). Understanding this relationship has helped many firms develop their human resource to the level of an asset and core competence. Extending these results it was felt that this relationship could have a synergistic impact on competitive dimensions of a company in relationship based service industry.

Relationship based industries are unique from transactional based service industries because firstly, in a relationship based industry time and effort is spent in understanding the customer. Then effort is made by whole value chain and specifically CCEs to make each transaction successful. In the relationship based industries too human resource could be developed to valuable, rare, difficult to imitate asset leading to a sustained competitive advantage. The current research focuses on researching this linkage theory in a relationship service industry. Three high relationship based industries were shortlisted i.e. Hospital, Hotel and Banking industries. Out of these three hotel industry was chosen for this study because it is one of the key industries driving

growth of the services sector in India (Sanketh Arouje, Seema Changam & Bandi, 2010) and review of literature highlighted that very few such studies have been undertaken in this sector as compared to banking industry. Hotel industry also ranks very high on quality of manpower (Pan, 2006; Sanketh Arouje et al., 2010). Therefore, the current study has been undertaken in hotel industry.

Job Satisfaction & Organizational Commitment

Two variables seem to dominate the organizational functioning side of the equation. First was found to be job satisfaction. Job satisfaction as emotional response of an employee to a job situation, has received the most attention of all work-related attitudes (Mathieu & Zajac, 1990; Sharma & Jyoti, 2009). Researchers have established the relationship between job satisfaction and performance (Kogers Daniel, 2001; Ostroff Cheri, 1992). Exhaustive researches have been conducted in the past on relationship between job satisfaction and turnover (Lee Thomas & Mowday Richard, 1987); absenteeism(Clegg, 1983; Hackett Rick, 1989); and also stress (Bleggin, 1993) among different other dimensions. Therefore, enough research has been conducted to establish that job satisfaction influences the attitude, behavior and performance of the employee.

However, in recent literature stress has shifted to organizational commitment(Randall Donna, Fedor Donald, & Longenecker, 1990). defined as an individual's belief in and acceptance of organizational goals and values and his/ her willingness to exert effort towards organizational goal accomplishment and strong desire to maintain organizational membership (Balfour & Barton, 1996; Porter et al, 1974). Organizational commitment has three...

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