Fostering Employee Service Creativity: Joint Effects of Customer Empowering Behaviors and Supervisory Empowering Leadership

Fostering Employee Service Creativity: Joint Effects of Customer Empowering Behaviors and Supervisory Empowering Leadership

Yuntao Dong University of Connecticut

Hui Liao University of Maryland

Aichia Chuang National Taiwan University

Jing Zhou Rice University

Elizabeth M. Campbell University of Minnesota

Integrating insights from the literature on customers’ central role in service and the literature on employee creativity, we offer theoretical and empirical account of how and when customer empowering behaviors can motivate employee creativity during service encounters and, subsequently, influence customer satisfaction with service experience. Using multilevel, multisource, experience sampling data from 380 hairstylists matched with 3550 customers in 118 hair salons, we found that customer empowering behaviors were positively related to employee creativity and subsequent customer satisfac- tion via employee state promotion focus. Results also showed that empowering behaviors from different agents function synergistically in shaping employee creativity: supervisory empowering leadership strengthened the indirect effect of customer empowering behaviors on employee creativity via state promotion focus.

Keywords: customer service, customer empowering behaviors, empowering leadership, state promotion focus, service creativity

Seventy-nine percent of the U.S. economy is related to service (Central Intelligence Agency, 2013); the rising importance of service in the global economy has sparked increased research interest in customer service (e.g., Mayer, Ehrhart, & Schneider, 2009; Schneider, Ehrhart, Mayer, Saltz, & Niles-Jolly, 2005). In parallel, employee creativity (i.e., the generation of novel and useful ideas; Amabile, 1988; Shalley, Zhou, & Oldham, 2004) in customer service has emerged as an interesting and important research topic since service creativity has the potential to delight customers in unusual ways or solve problems that existing protocol falls short of addressing, leading to heightened customer satisfac- tion and ultimate organizational success (Gilson, Mathieu, Shalley, & Ruddy, 2005; Madjar & Ortiz-Walters, 2008, 2009). While both service creativity and service quality (e.g., efficiency, responsive-

ness, and courtesy; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985; Sch- neider, 2004) can satisfy customer needs, an important distinction exists between these two constructs. Service quality can be achieved through standardized practices (Gilson et al., 2005) and does not necessarily involve creative solutions, whereas creativity focuses on “pleasantly surprising” customers (Zeng, Proctor, & Salvendy, 2012) and addresses problems in unconventional ways that extend beyond existing procedures.

A separate stream of research has focused on the central role that customers play in the service context. Customers are the source of employees’ and service organizations’ incomes; custom- ers often can decide whether to use the same employee or service organization for future services; they may refer their friends to the same employee, or, if experiencing a dissatisfying service, they may persuade others to go elsewhere (Bowen, 1983; Zhao, Huo, Flynn, & Yeung, 2008). The considerable power held by the customers makes them a distinctive source of influence. The contemporary literature on the role of customers posits that cus- tomers can provide critical inputs to help improve the service they receive because customers may have the precise information and first-hand experiences with the service (Bogers, Afuah, & Bastian, 2010; Bowen & Schneider, 1988; Foss, Laursen, & Pedersen, 2011; Ordanini & Parasuraman, 2011; Schneider et al., 2005). In other words, the literature indicates that one type of customer influence is that customers contribute directly to the service pro- cess by offering unique information and perspectives. Neverthe- less, in receiving service, customers may not want to specify

This article was published Online First March 16, 2015. Yuntao Dong, School of Business, University of Connecticut; Hui Liao,

Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland; Aichia Chuang, College of Management, National Taiwan University; Jing Zhou, Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University; Elizabeth M. Campbell, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.

We are grateful to our Associate Editor Robert Ployhart and two anon- ymous reviewers for insightful suggestions. We also thank Dr. Kathryn M. Bartol for her helpful comments to an early version of the paper.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Yuntao Dong, School of Business, University of Connecticut, 2100 Hillside Rd., Unit 1041, Storrs, CT 06269. E-mail: yuntao.dong@business.uconn.edu

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

Journal of Applied Psychology © 2015 American Psychological Association 2015, Vol. 100, No. 5, 1364–1380 0021-9010/15/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038969

1364

information, direct the process, or prescribe a solution. Rather, customers may motivate the employees by making the employees believe that they are capable of doing the job and have the freedom to make decisions during the service. To the extent that service creativity is valuable to customers, a central question to ask is: how might customers encourage employee creativity without having to contribute specific knowledge or be willing to be involved in every detail of service delivery? The extant literature offers no theoret- ical or empirical answers to this question, which seems a lost opportunity for customers and managers of service employees alike.

To address this question, the present study integrates the two streams of research within the customer service and creativity literatures to examine the possibility that a customer can serve as a key motivator of employee creativity during service encounters1

and that employee creativity can ultimately enhance customer satisfaction. Specifically, we first draw upon the literature of customer influence in the service context to put customers on the center stage and examine the effects of perceived customer em- powering behaviors on employee service creativity. Second, we build on insights from the research of employee creativity in customer service to theorize a motivational path through which customer empowering behaviors exert impact on employee cre- ativity. We define customer empowering behaviors as customer actions that make employees feel motivated and able to make decisions regarding how to achieve desired outcomes during the service encounters (Ahearne, Mathieu, & Rapp, 2005; Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). While employees are likely to be mindful of customers’ power and thus hesitate to try new ideas for fear of making customers unhappy, we suggest that customers may empower employees and unleash employees’ creative potential. The necessity and value of empowering em- ployees have been implied in the service context. Research has suggested that it is impossible for leaders to closely monitor and control the service process (Mathieu, Ahearne, & Taylor, 2007; Schneider, Bowen, Ehrhart, & Holcombe, 2000). Rather, positive service outcomes may result when front-line service employees are given latitude in satisfying customers (Martin, Liao, & Campbell, 2013). Considering customers’ powerful influence and proximity to the service process, it is surprising that research has yet to focus on customers as direct sources of empowerment, leaving an im- portant potential of customer influence unexamined and a poten- tially effective approach to manage service employees unexplored.

To advance our theoretical understanding, we clarify the effects of customer empowering behaviors on employee creativity in the service context and address two related issues. First, why do customers affect service creativity? We investigate the motiva- tional path that links customer empowering behaviors to creativity. Specifically, we propose that customer empowering behaviors affect employees’ promotion focus, a type of self-regulatory focus that directs employees’ goal pursuit toward aspiring, expanding, and enterprising (Higgins, 1997, 1998). During a service encoun- ter, which is finite in duration, such a promotion focus facilitates employees’ investing their time and energy toward coming up with novel and practical ways of solving problems (Förster, Friedman, & Liberman, 2004; Friedman & Förster, 2001). Second, when will the impact of customers be stronger? The consistency between contextual influences is often critical for creativity to occur (Zhang & Zhou, 2014). We investigate whether supervisors’ empowering

leadership (from inside the service organization) and customer empowering behaviors (external to the organization) interact to motivate employee creativity. Namely, we expect that supervisory empowering leadership strengthens the customer empowering behaviors–employee creativity connection.

Taken together, we aim to make four significant contributions. First, we contribute to the customer service literature by identify- ing customer empowering behaviors as a powerful motivating force that elevates employee creativity. Extant research has largely focused on how customers can offer information and expertise in the service (Foss et al., 2011; Madjar & Ortiz-Walters, 2008). We know little about whether and how customers may serve as moti- vators of employee creativity. Second, we extend the creativity literature by highlighting the creativity-enhancing role of custom- ers and theorizing promotion focus as the path linking customer empowering behaviors to employee creativity. The vast majority of creativity studies have examined contextual influence from leaders, coworkers, and work teams (e.g., Baer, Leenders, Oldham, & Vadera, 2010; Gong, Huang, & Farh, 2009; Hirst, Van Knip- penberg, & Zhou, 2009; Oldham & Cummings, 1996; Perry-Smith & Shalley, 2003; Shin & Zhou, 2003; Zhang & Bartol, 2010). However, customers’ motivational impact—arguably the most proximal social influence for service creativity (Grant & Hofmann, 2011)—is not well understood and cannot be assumed to operate identically to the impact from other sources. Third, by examining the synergistic effect of supervisory empowering leadership in strengthening the positive impact of customer empowering behav- iors on employee creativity, we knit together the customer service, creativity, and empowering leadership literature that have pro- gressed separately, and address the call for research on the con- sistency effects involving multiple contextual factors for creativity (Zhang & Zhou, 2014; Zhou & Hoever, 2014). Fourth, the multi- level, multisource, experience sampling approach allows us to make an empirical contribution by examining both within- individual and between-individual predictors of service creativity.

Theory and Hypotheses

In this section, we develop our theoretical model (see Figure 1). First, we clarify the concept and value of customer empowering behaviors. Second, we discuss the positive connection between customer empowering behaviors and creativity, as mediated by employee state promotion focus. Third, we predict that employee creativity is positively related to customer satisfaction. Lastly, we explain how the positive impact of customer empowering behav- iors on creativity via state promotion focus is strengthened when empowering leadership is also present.

Customer Empowering Behaviors

The notion of empowerment is central to service industries. Since front-line employees frequently engage in direct interactions with the customers and most keenly understand customer needs,

1 A service encounter refers to the interaction that emerges between a customer and a service employee (Gutek, Groth, & Cherry, 2002; Tan, Foo, & Kwek, 2004). In our research, a service encounter occurs at the within- individual level of analysis because the same employee served multiple customers over the time.

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1365FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

their ability to serve can benefit from removal of bureaucratic prescriptions about how to work and increased freedom to operate as they see fit (Ahearne et al., 2005; Martin et al., 2013; Schneider et al., 2000). Drawing upon the contemporary customer service literature, which regards customers as having substantial power and potential of influence over service employees (Bowen, 1983; Bowen & Schneider, 1988; Zhao et al., 2008), we argue that customers act as a major source of empowerment during service encounters.

Empowering has been conceptualized as a motivating process that facilitates individuals’ intrinsic need for control and mastery (Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Spreitzer, 1995; Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). Accordingly, we define customer empowering behaviors as customers creating conditions that make employees feel motivated and capable of making important decisions about their work. By exhibiting empowering behaviors, customers can serve as motiva- tors that shape employees’ motivation and behaviors during the service encounters. Applying principles from the empowering leadership literature, we expect that customers can empower by highlighting the meaningfulness of the employees’ job, involving them in decision making, expressing confidence in their capabil- ities, and offering them more autonomy during the service (Ahearne et al., 2005; Arnold, Arad, Rhoades, & Drasgow, 2000; Zhang & Bartol, 2010). Because these behaviors collectively make people feel capable of managing important domains of their work, they jointly reflect the motivating process of empowerment (Con- ger & Kanungo, 1988). Examples of customer empowering behav- iors include a hardware store customer describing the importance of a home improvement effort and showing confidence in the employee’s expertise in selecting the right tools, or a customer seeking the advice of a stylist and expressing willingness to take the stylist’s suggestion when deciding on a new hair style.

Customer empowering behaviors are related to the concept of delegation, but differ in that delegation reflects only one aspect of

empowering behaviors, that is, autonomy (Mills & Ungson, 2003). Customer empowering behaviors also differ from rapport and support. Unlike empowering process, rapport requires shared pos- itive emotions and a closeness of the relationship. Customer em- powering behaviors do not necessarily involve positive interper- sonal relationship and emotional attachment, which are core to these other relational constructs that have been examined in the creativity literature (e.g., Janssen, 2005; Madjar, Oldham, & Pratt, 2002; Scott & Bruce, 1994; Tierney, Farmer, & Graen, 1999). Support can manifest in a directive rather than empowering forms, such as giving prescriptive solutions for service-related problems (e.g., Jokisaari & Nurmi, 2009).

Customer Empowering Behaviors, Employee State Promotion Focus, and Creativity

Previous theory and research concerning creativity and empow- erment suggest that empowering behaviors create a work context that motivates employees to use more active and success-oriented means to maximizing work objectives (Friedman & Förster, 2001; Spreitzer, 1995, 1996; Zhou, Hirst, & Shipton, 2012). This in- cludes generating creative solutions to satisfy customers beyond their expectations (Ahearne et al., 2005; Martin et al., 2013). In particular, creativity scholars have remarked that “self-regulating strategies focused on success, achievement and problem solving [that is, promotion focus] are potent sources of employee creativ- ity” (Zhou et al., 2012, p. 894; Friedman & Förster, 2001; Neubert, Kacmar, Carlson, Chonko, & Roberts, 2008). Accordingly, we propose that customer empowering behaviors can promote em- ployee creativity by affecting employees’ self-regulation toward achievement, specifically, promotion focus.

Self-regulation refers to the process by which individuals set desired end-states or goals and guide their own activities and performance toward these end-states (Carver & Scheier, 1981; Higgins, 1997, 1998; Vohs & Baumeister, 2004). According to regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997, 1998), people have two basic self-regulation systems: promotion focus, which emphasizes aspiration, accomplishment, and achievement of gain, and preven- tion focus, which emphasizes responsibilities, safety, and avoid- ance of loss. Consistent with the motivational nature inherent in customer empowering behaviors, we examine the role of promo- tion focus. Of particular relevance to service encounters, research found that momentary situations such as others’ language and behavior can temporarily affect one’s promotion focus (e.g., Brockner & Higgins, 2001; Van Dijk & Kluger, 2011). This suggests that state promotion focus may be a particularly useful motivational path that links a customer’s empowering behaviors and the employee’s creativity during a service interaction.

Empowering customers demonstrate behaviors that allow em- ployees to make decisions and to take effective actions without intervention from the customers. Such behaviors make employees feel that they have both the ability and freedom to use their own expertise to complete service tasks (Spreitzer, 1995; Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). As a result, employees tend to develop stronger desire and commitment in achieving favorable outcomes. By help- ing employees recognize the meaning and impact of their job, customers can energize employees, stimulate their wish to make changes, and direct their attention toward accomplishment with less concern for failure—all of which are reflected in a promotion

Figure 1. Theoretical model of joint effects of customer empowering behaviors and supervisory empowering leadership on employee creativity and customer satisfaction. Note. Our theory concerns key variables at the within-individual (L1) and between-individual level (L2). However, our data contains a hierarchy of three levels. We have conducted three-level hierarchical linear modeling analyses and included control variables at all three levels. Within-individual level (L1) controls included customer status (new vs. returned customers); between-individual level (L2) controls in- cluded employee intrinsic motivation and creative self-efficacy; and store- level (L3) controls included the number of employees in the salon and customer orientation climate. T1E � Time 1 employee survey; RE � Repeated employee survey; C � Customer survey.

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1366 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

focus (Kark & van Dijk, 2007; Kluger & Ganzach, 2004). More- over, customers can empower employees by seeking employees’ advice during decision making, giving them control over tasks, and expressing confidence in employees’ capability. These behaviors foster employees’ sense of mastery and are related to higher aspirations for success, which align well with the striving for maximal goals and personal growth in a promotion-focus mindset. In line with these arguments, Neubert and colleagues (2008) found leaders whose “personal power [is] consciously controlled and generously shared” with followers (Molyneaux, 2003, p. 360) increased followers’ promotion focus. We hypothesize:

Hypothesis 1: Customer empowering behaviors, as perceived by employees, are positively related to employee state promo- tion focus during the service encounters.

Employee promotion focus will in turn boost service creativity. Individuals operating with a stronger promotion focus show more willingness to take risks, are more concerned with development, and demonstrate more “exploratory” behaviors (Crowe & Higgins, 1997; Förster, Higgins, & Idson, 1998; Friedman & Förster, 2001; Liberman, Idson, Camacho, & Higgins, 1999). Especially, with a risk-seeking orientation, promotion-focused employees may feel excited about searching for new ideas during the service encoun- ters. Therefore, they are likely to engage in divergent thinking and creative problem-solving processes in which multiple alternatives are considered (Förster et al., 2004). This enables employees to achieve higher levels of creativity.

Supporting these arguments in laboratory settings, Crowe and Higgins (1997) and Friedman and Förster (2001) found that promotion-induced participants outperformed their prevention- induced counterparts in the tasks requiring generation of new alternatives and creative insights. More recently, Neubert and colleagues (2008) extended the investigation to the workplace by showing a positive effect of employees’ promotion focus at work on their creative behaviors. Consistently with these findings, Zhou and colleagues’ (2012) research supported their argument that promotion focus helps individuals maintain enthusiasm as well as promotes an exploratory processing style, which provides a foun- dation for creativity. We propose:

Hypothesis 2: Employee state promotion focus is positively related to employee creativity during the service encounters.

So far, we have hypothesized that customer empowering behav- iors can influence service employee state promotion focus, which, in turn, drives employee creativity during the service encounters. These arguments together lead us to predict:

Hypothesis 3: Employee state promotion focus mediates the positive relationship between customer empowering behaviors and employee creativity during the service encounters.

Employee Creativity and Customer Satisfaction

We expect that employees’ service creativity leads to higher levels of customer satisfaction through two paths: (a) by meeting special customer demands and expectations and/or (b) by delight- ing customers through unexpected service solutions. First, when employees exhibit creativity during the service encounters, they generate novel solutions that are useful in dealing with the service

tasks at hand. These novel solutions may include devising new processes or adapting and refining existing procedures to address customer needs (Madjar & Ortiz-Walters, 2008). Both forms of creativity should enable employees to better fulfill customer ex- pectations and needs, therefore bringing unique customer benefits and enhancing customer satisfaction. Second, since service cre- ativity represents constructive departure from, and improvement over, existing approaches and past experiences, it offers opportu- nities to surprisingly please customers (Zeng et al., 2012). With the unexpected, delightful experience, customers are likely to perceive more satisfaction with the service.

Consistent with these arguments, in a sample of customer ser- vice technicians, Gilson and her colleagues (2005) found that creative team environments facilitated employee engagement in creative processes and, subsequently improved teamwork and cus- tomer satisfaction. While the evidence has been gathered at the between-employee level, research has yet to examine the effect of service creativity on customer satisfaction at the within-employee level. Since each customer–employee interaction may be different, we specify that the relationship between service creativity and customer satisfaction is also a meaningful encounter-level (i.e., within-employee) phenomenon that varies by customers. Together, we predict:

Hypothesis 4: Employee creativity is positively related to customer satisfaction with the service encounter.

Moderation by Supervisory Empowering Leadership

In addition to customers, supervisors serve critical roles in influencing service employees and important service outcomes (e.g., Liao & Chuang, 2007; Schneider et al., 2005; Schneider, Wheeler, & Cox, 1992). Research on customer service manage- ment has suggested that supervisors’ leadership style can shape employees’ attitudes, behaviors, and performance (Borucki & Burke, 1999; Burke, Borucki, & Hurley, 1992; Dietz, Pugh, & Wiley, 2004; Schneider, 1990; Schneider, White, & Paul, 1998). For example, Schneider and colleagues (Salvaggio et al., 2007; Schneider et al., 2005; Schneider et al., 1998) found that service- oriented leadership impacted employee service quality, customer satisfaction, and unit sales by cultivating a proservice climate. Liao and Chuang (2007) and Hur, van den Berg, and Wilderom (2011) found that transformational leadership was positively related to the desirable service outcomes at both the individual and team levels.

Building upon and extending this literature, we argue that su- pervisors, as a comparatively distal source of influence, have the potential to facilitate the more proximal influence of customers. Considering that it is almost impossible for supervisors to directly control the service process (Ahearne et al., 2005; Mathieu et al., 2007; Schneider et al., 2000), we expect supervisory empowering leadership to be particularly useful in the service context. Accord- ingly, we examine supervisory empowering leadership as a mod- erator that strengthens the impact of customer empowering behav- iors on employee creativity. Similar to customer empowering behaviors, an empowering supervisor will implement conditions with a view toward enhancing employees’ intrinsic motivation and investment in the work (Ahearne et al., 2005; Arnold et al., 2000; Zhang & Bartol, 2010).

As pointed out by Kanfer and colleagues (Chen & Kanfer, 2006; Kanfer, 1990), motivational stimuli emanating from different sources

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1367FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

(e.g., individuals, leader-member interactions, and the external envi- ronment) “exert more potent influences on employee motivation when there is motivational fit or consistency in the stimuli to which individuals are exposed” (Chen, Sharma, Edinger, Shapiro, & Farh, 2011, p. 544). Building upon this rationale, we propose that the positive relationship between customer empowering behaviors and employee state promotion focus is more pronounced when one’s supervisor provides a consistent “motivational stimulus”—em- powering leadership. An empowering supervisor instills in follow- ers the sense that they can influence the work process in mean- ingful ways and have autonomy while doing their work (Spreitzer, 1995; Thomas & Velthouse, 1990). As a result, employees feel more positive about the heightened levels of empowerment from customers. For example, they will be more likely to consider customer empowering behaviors as providing valuable opportuni- ties for them to take initiative, provide better service, and make significant contributions to the organization. This positive attitude aligns with the aspiration toward achieving high performance in a promotion-focused state during the service encounters. Customer empowering behaviors are less motivating without empowering leadership because employees may not believe they should or truly have the freedom to strive for promotional goals in the service. Therefore, we predict:

Hypothesis 5: The relationship between employee-perceived customer empowering behaviors and state promotion focus during the service encounters will be stronger when there is a higher rather than lower level of supervisory empowering leadership.

With a more empowering supervisor, employees’ state promo- tion focus is more likely to manifest as creativity. While promotion focus constitutes important personal motivation to be creative, employees need to feel enabled to express creative motivation and perceive that their efforts are valued in order to actually engage in creative activities (Pieterse, van Knippenberg, Schippers, & Stam, 2010). Empowering leadership should appeal to their desires for success, providing the opportunity to explore, experiment and seek out new solutions (Friedman & Förster, 2001). Specifically, an empowering supervisor shows confidence in employees’ ability, making promotion-focused employees feel capable to pursue cre- ative outcomes. An empowering supervisor also unshackles em- ployees from bureaucratic restrictions about how to work and allows employees discretion to adapt as they see fit (Mathieu et al., 2007). Left more often to their own devices, promotion-focused employees will take more risks to pursue ideas that are novel (e.g., Friedman & Förster, 2001; Neubert et al., 2008). However, if the supervisor exhibits prescriptive styles and emphasizes established rules, employees are more likely to harbor concerns that prevent them from generating new ideas. In line with these arguments, researchers have shown that work characteristics that promote autonomy and support discretionary efforts facilitated the promo- tion focus–creativity link (e.g., Shalley & Gilson, 2004). We propose:

Hypothesis 6: The relationship between employee state pro- motion focus and employee creativity during service encoun- ters will be stronger when there is a higher rather than lower level of supervisory empowering leadership.

Combining Hypotheses 5 and 6, we anticipate that supervisory empowering leadership can strengthen the indirect relationship between customer empowering behaviors and employee creativity via employee state promotion focus. We propose a moderated mediation relationship:

Hypothesis 7: Empowering leadership moderates the mediated effect of employee perceived customer empowering behaviors on employee creativity via state promotion focus such that the indirect relationship will be stronger when there is a higher rather than lower level of supervisory empowering leadership.

Method

Research Site, Procedures, and Sample

We collected data in hair salons from a large salon chain in Taiwan.2 We selected hair salons as the research context for two reasons. First, generating novel and appropriate hairstyles to meet various customer needs is one of the most basic and important requirements for stylists (Madjar & Ortiz-Walters, 2008). Thus, hair salons constitute a particularly fitting context for studying service creativity. It is important to note that a “creative” hairstyle is not necessarily inventive, but should give the customer a new look and properly address the customer’s needs. Second, the interaction between a customer and a stylist usually lasts long enough (more than 30 minutes) for the stylist to perceive a cus- tomer’s behaviors and for the customer to observe the stylist’s creative performance.

Research assistants (RAs) were trained to distribute surveys in the salons at various times. On the first visit, RAs asked stylists to fill out a Time 1 employee survey consisting of measures of empowering leadership, customer orientation climate, intrinsic motivation, creative self-efficacy, age, and gender. RAs collected completed surveys on their second visits. Stylists were told that the RAs would visit multiple times in the following 4 weeks to randomly collect information about 10 of their service encounters with the customers. To avoid employee response fatigue, a max- imum of two encounters per stylist were assessed in one day. To ensure adequate interactions between stylists and customers, only services that typically lasted substantial amount of time (e.g., hair perming, dying, cutting, and styling) were included. Stylists and customers were approached at the end of the service, and were asked to fill out a survey independently. The repeated employee survey included measures of perceived customer empowering be- haviors and state promotion focus. The customer survey included employee creativity, customer satisfaction, returned versus new customer status, and demographic information. All surveys were completed on site, and we provided all participants a gift token and assured confidentiality of their responses.

Our data had a hierarchical structure in which customer– employee encounters were nested within employees, and employ- ees were nested within salons. A total of 120 salons, 414 hairstyl- ists, and 4,200 customers were approached, of which 120 (100.0%) salons, 410 (99.0%) hairstylists, and 3,713 (88.4%) customers

2 A short version of the paper was published in Academy of Manage- ment conference proceeding in 2012 (Dong, Liao, Chuang, Zhou, & Campbell, 2012).

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1368 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

responded. Responses were excluded from the analyses if the assessments were not complete or if the customer and employee responses could not be matched. The final sample consisted of 3,550 complete customer responses matched with 380 individual em- ployees from 118 salons. The average duration of the service transactions was 97 minutes. Among the stylists, 93% were female and their average age was 28. Among the customers, 83% were female and their average age was 34. Since a majority of the participants were women, we used an analysis of variance (ANOVA) to check whether women and men responded differently. Results showed that female and male stylists were not significantly different in their perceptions of customer empowering behaviors, F � 2.52, p � .05 and state promotion focus, F � 1.04, p � .05, and female and male customers were not significantly different in their eval- uations of employee creativity, F � .10, p � .05 and their own satisfaction, F � .14, p � .05.

Measures

All measures that were originally in English were translated into Chinese following the translation-back-translation procedure to ensure accuracy. Unless otherwise noted, all items were assessed on a 5-point Likert-type scale with 1 � Strongly disagree and 5 � Strongly agree. We provide a list of items and instructions of focal variables in Appendix A.

Employee-perceived customer empowering behaviors. We adapted Ahearne and colleagues’ (2005) empowering leadership scale for stylists to assess customer empowering behaviors. We have conducted a pilot study to test the validity of the empowering leadership measure when applying to customer behaviors in a service setting (see Appendix B). Mindful of the length of repeated employee surveys (usually filled out by each stylist for 6 to 13 encounters), we shortened the scale by removing four items that were less appropriate in the service context. The scale retained the same four dimensions as the original measure, with two items in each dimension. The four dimensions and sample items were: (a) enhancing the meaningfulness of work (e.g., “This customer helped me see the importance of my work to him/her”), (b) fostering participation in decision making (e.g., “This customer made decisions about his or her hairstyle together with me”), (c) expressing confidence in high performance (e.g., “This customer believed that I can handle demanding tasks”), and (d) providing autonomy (e.g., “This customer allowed me to provide service my way”).

We conducted a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to examine the dimensionality of the customer empowering behaviors mea- sure. Since customers were nested in service employees, we esti- mated a multilevel CFA model using MPLUS 7 (Hox, 2002; Muthén & Muthén, 1998–2012). We examined the overall model fit by Comparative Fit Index (CFI), Tucker-Lewis Index (TLI), Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA), and Stan- dardized Root Mean Square Residual (SRMR). The four subdi- mensions have been found to be mutually related and collectively represent the construct of empowering behaviors. Hence, we spec- ified a second-order factor model with the four subdimensions as first-order factors and a second-order factor of customer empow- ering behaviors at both within- and between-individual levels. Fit indices for the model indicated good fit (�2(62) � 150.07, p � .05; CFI � .99; TLI � .99; RMSEA � .03; within-individual SRMR �

.03; between-individual SRMR � .03; store-level SRMR � .06). Factor loadings for all items were significant (p � .05). The four dimensions were highly correlated; correlations ranged from .53 to .82 (p � .05 for all). Taken together, CFA results revealed that the subdimensions were distinct, and collectively reflective of the overall construct. Therefore, we averaged dimensional scores to create an overall score for customer empowering behaviors. The Cronbach’s alpha for the overall customer empowering behaviors scale was .92.

Employee state promotion focus. We measured employee state promotion focus using the five items from the workplace promotion focus scale developed and validated by Neubert et al. (2008). This measure was also validated in the pilot study de- scribed in Appendix B. We adapted the wording of the promotion focus scale so as to capture the motivational state of an employee when serving a particular customer. Moreover, the instruction highlighted the time boundary of the state promotion focus. Each employee was asked: “to what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about yourself when you were serving this customer?” A sample item was “I was motivated to better serve this customer by my aspirations.” The Cronbach’s alpha was .84.

Employee creativity. We measured employee creativity by adopting eight items from the 13-item creativity scale used in previous studies (Zhou & George, 2001; Zhou, Shin, Brass, Choi, & Zhang, 2009). We retained the items that were relevant to the service context and were easy to evaluate in order to reduce customers’ cognitive burden. On a 5-point scale ranging from 1 � not at all characteristic to 5 � very characteristic, customers rated the extent to which each of the eight behaviors was characteristic of the employee who had just served him or her. A sample item was “The stylist came up with creative solutions to problems I had.” The Cronbach’s alpha for the scale was .94.

Customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction was measured with Gotlieb, Grewal, and Brown’s (1994) three customer satis- faction items, which have also been used by Liao and Chuang (2004) more recently. We asked the customers to report their satisfaction toward the stylist who just provided service to them. A sample item was “Overall, I am satisfied with the decision to come to this stylist.” The Cronbach’s alpha for the scale was .93.

Supervisory empowering leadership. Using Ahearne et al.’s (2005) 12-item empowering leadership scale, we asked stylists to rate their supervisor’s empowering behaviors. Because we concep- tualized empowering leadership as an individual’s perception of leadership toward one’s self, we used an individual referent (i.e., “me”) in the items (e.g., Robert, Probst, Martocchio, Drasgow, & Lawler, 2000; Zhang & Bartol, 2010). Following previous prac- tices (e.g., Ahearne et al., 2005; Zhang & Bartol, 2010), we averaged across four subdimensions to generate the empowering leadership score. The Cronbach’s alpha for the overall empower- ing leadership scale was .94.

Covariates. We controlled for variables that may influence the customer–employee interaction and service outcomes at each of the three levels. At Level 1, we controlled for whether the customer was a first-time or a returned customer using a dummy variable (0 � first-time customer, 1 � returned customer) because relationship history may impact individual expectations, percep- tions, and evaluations of the interaction and outcomes (Mayer et al., 2009).

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1369FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

At Level 2, we controlled for intrinsic motivation and creative self-efficacy since previous research has found that they may explain the impact of empowering behaviors on employee creativ- ity (e.g., Gong et al., 2009; Zhang & Bartol, 2010). Intrinsic motivation was assessed using the 5-item scale developed by Tierney and colleagues (1999). The Cronbach’s alpha for the intrinsic motivation scale was .89. Creative self-efficacy was mea- sured using Tierney and Farmer’s (2002) 3-item scale. The Cron- bach’s alpha was .82.

At Level 3, we controlled for store size (the number of stylists) because smaller salon might provide opportunities for more inti- mate relationships among employees and customers, which could affect customers’ service experience (e.g., Dietz et al., 2004). We also controlled for customer orientation climate since it has been shown to influence employees’ job attitudes and customer-oriented behaviors, as well as customer satisfaction (Burke et al., 1992; Grizzle, Zablah, Brown, Mowen, & Lee, 2009; Hong, Liao, Hu, & Jiang, 2013; Schneider & Bowen, 1985; Schneider et al., 2005). We used the customer orientation scale used by Susskind, Kacmar, and Borchgrevink (2003). The average rwg(j) across the 118 salons was .98, indicating a high level of within-store agreement (James, Demaree, & Wolf, 1984). Intraclass correlation (ICC1) and reli- ability of group mean (ICC2) values were .03 (p � .05) and .24, respectively. The relatively low ICC2 may stem in part from the small number of stylists per store (e.g., Liao, Toya, Lepak, & Hong, 2009), yet such values should not prevent aggregation if it is justified by theory and supported by other aggregation indices (Chen & Bliese, 2002). We aggregated stylists’ responses to the store level. The Cronbach’s alpha was .89.

Analytical Strategy

Prior to hypothesis testing, we conducted CFA to assess the discriminant validity of our key constructs. Customer empowering behaviors, employee state promotion focus, employee creativity, and customer satisfaction were specified at the within-individual level (Level 1). Empowering leadership was treated as the between-individual level variable (Level 2). Although we did not

have any hypothesized variables at the store level (Level 3), we specified a three-level model to accurately reflect the data structure and account for the control variables at Level 3.

We applied three-level Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM3) to test our hypotheses. We assessed the significance of the indirect effect of customer empowering behaviors on employee creativity via state promotion focus using the multilevel regression proce- dure in HLM proposed by Bauer, Preacher, and Gil (2006). More- over, we followed Bauer and colleagues’ approach to test the moderated mediation hypothesis by examining the indirect effect of customer empowering behaviors on employee creativity at differing levels of empowering leadership.

Results

The means, standard deviations, correlations, and reliability statistics of the variables included in this study are presented in Table 1.

Discriminant Validity

The hypothesized measurement model consisted of five latent variables: perceived customer empowering behaviors, employee state promotion focus, employee service creativity, customer sat- isfaction, and empowering leadership. Consistent with the concep- tualization of customer empowering behaviors and empowering leadership, we specified a second-order factor model for each of them (i.e., a higher order construct of empowering behaviors was indicated by its four subdimensions).

The values on the fit indexes indicated that the multilevel five-factor CFA model provided a good fit for the data (�(525)2 � 1536.00, p � .05; CFI � .97; TLI � .97; RMSEA � .02; within-individual SRMR � .02; between-individual SRMR � .08). All indicators loaded on their respective constructs signifi- cantly at the .05 level. We compared this hypothesized model to a four-factor model, in which the two customer-assessed variables (employee creativity and customer satisfaction) were loaded on one factor. Results revealed that the five-factor model fit the data

Table 1 Descriptive Statistics, Reliabilities, and Correlations of the Variables

Variables Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5

Within-individual variables (n � 3,550) 1. Customer statusa .30 .46 2. Customer empowering behaviors 4.05 .57 .20� (.92) 3. Employee state promotion focus 3.83 .60 .04� .52� (.84) 4. Employee creativity 4.00 .69 .19� .31� .19� (.94) 5. Customer satisfaction 4.42 .63 .28� .30� .12� .60� (.93)

Between-individual variables (n � 380) 1. Intrinsic motivation 3.75 .62 (.89) 2. Creative self-efficacy 3.64 .64 .60� (.82) 3. Empowering leadership 3.76 .62 .35� .36� (.94)

Store-level variables (n � 118) 1. Store size (number of stylists) 3.53 1.21 2. Customer orientation climate 4.51 .32 �.02 (.89)

Note. Numbers 1–5 in the top row correspond to the variables in the respective sections of the table. Cronbach’s alphas for the scales are in parentheses and presented along the diagonal. SD � Standard deviation. a 0 � first-time customer, 1 � returned customer. � p � .05 (two-tailed).

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1370 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

significantly better than the four-factor model (��(7)2 � 4012.02, p � .05), which fit the data poorly (�(532)2 � 5548.02, p � .05; CFI � .86; TLI � .84; RMSEA � .05; within-individual SRMR � .03; between-individual SRMR � .10). The results supported the discriminant validity of our specified measurement model.

Results of HLM Null Models

Prior to hypothesis testing, we justified that HLM3 was appro- priate for analyzing our three-level data by running three null models with no predictors but state promotion focus, creativity, or customer satisfaction as the dependent variable, respectively. The results revealed that there were 18% of variance in state promotion focus that resided between employees (Level 2: �(262)2 � 792.56, p � .05; ICC1 � .18) and 4% of variance in state promotion focus that resided between salons (Level 3: �(117)2 � 185.28, p � .05; ICC1 � .04). Analyses indicated that 3% of variance in employee creativity resided between employees (�(262)2 � 338.99, p � .05; ICC1 � .03) and 7% of variance resided between salons (�(117)2 � 320.93, p � .05; ICC1 � .07). Finally, 6% of variance in customer satisfaction resided between employees (�(262)2 � 429.07, p � .05; ICC1 � .06) and 8% of variance resided between salons (�(117)2 � 299.69, p � .05; ICC1 � .08). These analyses supported using HLM3 for model estimation. Moreover, the results indicated that 78% of variance in state promotion focus, 90% of variance in employee creativity, and 86% of variance in customer satisfaction were attributable to the encounters, underscoring the importance of modeling predictors of these variables at the within-individual or encounter level.

Hypotheses Testing

The HLM results are shown in Table 2. Hypothesis 1 proposed that employee-perceived customer empowering behaviors posi- tively relate to employee state promotion focus. As shown in Model 1, customer empowering behaviors were positively related to employee state promotion focus (� � .49, p � .05). Hypothesis 1 received support. Hypothesis 2 proposed that employee state promotion focus positively relates to creativity. Results in Model 3 showed that state promotion focus was positively related to creativity (� � .05, p � .05), supporting Hypothesis 2.

Hypothesis 3 proposed that employee state promotion focus mediates the relationship between customer empowering behav- iors and employee creativity. We tested the hypothesis by exam- ining the indirect effect of customer empowering behaviors on employee creativity via state promotion focus using Bauer et al.’s (2006) integrative multilevel regression procedure. The results showed that the estimate of the indirect effect was .024, explaining 8.31% of the variance in the total effect (.290). The 95% confi- dence interval (CI95%) for the estimated effect was (.006, .043) and did not include zero. In addition, while state promotion focus was included in the model, there was still significant direct effect from customer empowering behaviors to employee creativity (CI95% � .266, .360), suggesting a partial mediation. The findings provided support for Hypothesis 3.

Hypothesis 4 predicted that employee service creativity pos- itively relates to customer satisfaction. Supporting this hypoth- esis, the relationship between service creativity and customer satisfaction was positive and significant3 (� � .50, p � .05; Model 5; Table 2).

Hypotheses 5 proposed that empowering leadership moderates the relationship between customer empowering behaviors and em- ployee state promotion focus. As shown in Model 2 of Table 2, the moderation of empowering leadership and customer empowering behaviors was not significant (� � .02, p � .05) in predicting state promotion focus. Hypothesis 5 was not supported.

Hypothesis 6 predicted that empowering leadership strengthens the positive impact of employee state promotion focus on em- ployee creativity. The results in Model 4 showed that the interac- tion of empowering leadership and employee state promotion focus was significant (� � .06, p � .05). Using the multilevel interaction computational tool developed by Preacher, Curran, and Bauer (2006), we plotted the regression equation between em- ployee state promotion focus and creativity at three levels of empowering leadership: one standard deviation above and below the mean, and the mean level (Aiken & West, 1991). The plot in Figure 2 suggested that at higher (rather than lower) levels of empowering leadership, employee state promotion focus was more positively associated with service creativity. The simple slopes test supported Hypothesis 6 by showing that the relationship between employee state promotion focus and creativity was positive and significant at the high level of empowering leadership ( � .09, p � .05), weaker and still significant at the mean level of empow- ering leadership ( � .05, p � .05), but not significant when empowering leadership was low ( � .01, p � .05).

Hypotheses 7 predicted that supervisory empowering leadership strengthens the indirect effect of customer empowering behaviors on employee creativity through employee state promotion focus. Using Bauer et al.’s (2006) procedure, we found that the indirect effect significantly varied as a function of empowering leadership. Specifically, the indirect effect was positive and significant when empowering leadership was high (.05; CI95% � .020, .070; 1 SD above the mean), but was not significant when empowering lead- ership was low (.01; CI95% � �.020, .031; 1 SD below the mean). The difference between the indirect effect under high versus low levels of empowering leadership was significant (.04; CI95% � .003, .075). Therefore, Hypothesis 7 was fully supported. Closer scrutiny revealed that when the moderator was only included at the first stage, the indirect effect did not vary upon the moderator. However, the indirect effect did vary upon the moderator when empowering leadership was considered a second-stage moderator.

3 We conceptualized service creativity as distinct from service quality. Thus we expect employee creativity to have an impact on customer satisfaction after controlling for service quality. We conducted a supple- mentary analysis to examine the value-added of service creativity control- ling for supervisor-rated employees’ overall service quality (at the indi- vidual level). The supervisory evaluations were collected on the RAs’ first visit to the salon. Supervisors were asked to assess each stylist’s quality of work, quantity of work, accomplishment of work goals, efficiency of customer service, effectiveness of customer service, and overall service quality (adopted from Welbourne, Johnson, & Erez, 1998). The rating scale ranged from 1 � needs much improvement to 5 � excellent. HLM results indicated that after controlling for employee overall service quality, service creativity and customer satisfaction were significantly related (� � .47, p � .05). This finding provided preliminary empirical support for the unique effect of service creativity on customer satisfaction.

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1371FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

We also conducted the same set of analyses for our mediation and moderated mediation models without any control variables and our results were consistent in terms of significance and mag- nitudes of the coefficients.

Discussion

In this study, we offer theoretical and empirical accounts of how customers serve as motivators to propel employee motivation and subsequent creativity in the service encounters, which, in turn, heightens customer satisfaction. Specifically, results supported our multilevel, moderated mediation model, showing that customer empowering behaviors sparked employee creativity and customer satisfaction by increasing employee state promotion focus. We also found that the positive, indirect effect of customer empower- ing behaviors on employee creativity was stronger in the presence of a more empowering supervisor.

Theoretical Contributions

Our theoretical model and findings offer important contributions to the existing literatures. First, we contribute to the customer service literature by showing that a set of customer empowering behaviors as perceived by service employees was positively re- lated to employee creativity during the service encounters. As stated in one of the most influential perspectives in the contem- porary customer service literature, the service-dominant logic, customers are cocreators in their service by making direct inputs (in the form of unique knowledge and information) into the cre- ation or delivery of the service (Vargo & Lusch, 2004, 2008). Yet in many cases, customers may not be interested in making specific contributions to the service. How can they still affect the service employees and outcomes? We answer this question and extend previous work on customer influence by demonstrating that, be- yond inputting knowledge and information, customers can moti- vate employees to achieve higher levels of creativity. Through empowering, customers release employees from worrying about making mistakes when trying novel and unusual (hence always risky) ways of solving problems, and motivate employees to take control of the service process to provide outstanding, creative service. The findings supported the notion in the service manage- ment literature that granting employees more control over the service encounters may better enable them to satisfy customers (Bateson, 1985). In addition, by pointing out customers as a prominent source of empowering behaviors, we challenge the implicit, long-held assumption that formal leaders in organiza- tional hierarchies need to serve as the primary source of empow- erment.

Second, our study extends the creativity literature by demon- strating that customers, who are external to a service organization, constitute a meaningful social context that propels service employ-

Table 2 Hierarchical Linear Modeling Regression Results

Variables

DV: State promotion focus

DV: Employee creativity

DV: Customer satisfaction

M1 M2 M3 M4 M5

Level 1 Customer statusa �0.05� �0.05� 0.20� 0.20� 0.20�

Customer empowering behaviors 0.49� 0.49� 0.29� 0.30� 0.12�

State promotion focus 0.05� 0.05� �0.03 Employee creativity 0.50�

Level 2 Intrinsic motivation 0.03 0.03 �0.02 �0.02 0.05�

Creative self-efficacy 0.09� 0.09� 0.03 0.03 0.03�

Supervisory empowering leadership 0.05 0.05 �0.00 �0.00 �0.01 Level 3

Store size (number of stylists) �0.01 �0.01 �0.03� �0.04� 0.01 Customer orientation climate 0.04 0.05 0.08 0.09 0.01

Interaction Customer empowering behaviors Supervisory empowering leadership 0.02 �0.01 �0.01 State promotion focus Supervisory empowering leadership 0.06� 0.01 Pseudo R2b 0.285 0.342 0.122 0.149 0.403

Note. n � 3,550 at the within-individual level, n � 380 at the between-individual level, n � 118 at the store level. DV � dependent variable. a 0 � first-time customer, 1 � returned customer. b pseudo R2 was calculated based on proportional reduction of error variance due to predictors in the models of Table 2 (Snijders & Bosker, 1999). � p � .05 (two-tailed).

Figure 2. The moderating effect of supervisory empowering leadership on the relationship of employee state promotion focus and employee service creativity.

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1372 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

ees to be creative by affecting employee state promotion focus. This complements existing research, which has advanced our understanding of how sources internal to an organization drive creativity. Our findings point to customers as a unique source of influence that is distinct from internal influences such as supervi- sors, coworkers, and teammates (Madjar & Ortiz-Walters, 2008; Saparito, Chen, & Sapienza, 2004). Customers often engage in extensive face-to-face interactions with front-line service employ- ees more so than the employees’ supervisors and colleagues. Despite the powerful influence customers can exert, research has yet to examine the motivating effects of customers in promoting employee creativity. Moreover, the creativity literature is in need of theorizing to identify motivational mechanisms that link con- textual factors and employee creativity (Shalley & Gilson, 2004). To date, state promotion focus has only been manipulated in laboratory studies (De Cremer, Mayer, van Dijke, Schouten, & Bardes, 2009; Pham & Avnet, 2004). In field studies, limited research attention has been paid to whether contextual factors influence employee creativity via fostering state promotion focus. Our study addresses these acknowledged limitations in the litera- ture.

Third, our investigation bridges literatures on customer ser- vice, empowering leadership, and creativity by showing that when internal influences such as supervisory empowering lead- ership are present, external influences such as customer em- powering behaviors have greater impact on creativity than when the matching internal influences are absent. Specifically, we found that the impact of empowering leadership was mainly on the promotion focus-creativity path, not the customer empow- ering behaviors-promotion focus path. This indicates that em- powering behaviors from a proximal source (i.e., customers) may be sufficient in promoting service employees’ self- regulation toward higher levels of achievement, whereas em- powering behaviors from supervisors grant the freedom to operate upon the elevated promotion focus (Mathieu et al., 2007), leading to creativity. Creativity scholars have suggested that examining the synergistic effects involving multiple con- textual factors is one of the new frontiers for creativity theo- rizing and research (Zhang & Zhou, 2014; Zhou & Hoever, 2014). Our study thus contributes to this emergent stream of research. The study also extends customer service literature by highlighting the importance of empowering leadership in addi- tion to others leadership styles, such as supportive leadership (Susskind et al., 2003) and service leadership (Schneider et al., 2005). Research has shown that supervisors can manage service employees by establishing a service climate (Borucki & Burke, 1999; Burke et al., 1992; Schneider et al., 1998). The supported moderated mediation in the study points to a new approach of leader influence in the service context: the role as a facilitator of the customer– employee interactions and magnifying the positive motivational impact of customers.

Fourth, we have taken a nuanced, multilevel, experience sampling research paradigm to simultaneously model both (a) often neglected, within-individual fluctuation and (b) the often examined, between-individual variation in the relationships of interest. This effort responds to the call for carefully consider- ing “day-by-day microprocesses in order to better understand mechanisms of influence and better advise practitioners who wish to improve their impact on subordinate performance”

(Amabile, Schatzel, Moneta, & Kramer, 2004, p. 29). We found substantial within-individual variation in employee state pro- motion focus and creativity, which was meaningfully explained by customer empowering behaviors. The findings take a step toward understanding these day-to-day processes, substantiates the value of within-individual inquiries, and stresses the need of examining time-variant predictors for individual creativity.

Managerial Implications

The current research carries important implications for manage- ment on how to effectively manage the service context and service employees when customer contact is frequent. Previous work on the customer contact frequency model (Chase, 1981) has recommended a reduction of customer contact frequency because customers introduce uncertainty and decrease efficiency. Nev- ertheless, our findings are consistent with more recent recom- mendations to utilize external customers to rally service troops and to focus on the nature of employees’ contact with the beneficiaries of their work (Grant, 2007, 2011). Our findings demonstrate that customers might present a unique opportunity for service organizations to manage service encounters. Results sug- gest that organizations can benefit from strategically marketing to customers in order to cue them toward empowering their service provider. For example, managers should look for chances to foster customers’ willingness to empower employees by helping custom- ers establish confidence in the employees and focusing on the prospect of superior performance. By helping customers realize that they can promote positive service outcomes (e.g., new service ideas or solutions) through behaviors such as expressing confi- dence in service employees and consulting employees’ opinions for their own service, managers can facilitate employee creativity through customers.

The research also indicates that managers can capitalize on the strategic advantage that external customers can provide by empowering their employees. Because front-line employees engage in contact with customers on a daily base, they may have a better sense in terms of what are the issues that custom- ers are concerned about the most and how to solve these problems in a novel and practical way. As a result, empowering employees—rather than closely monitoring and controlling them—may be a more effective way to enable employees to provide satisfying service. Specifically, our findings suggest that empowering leadership helped service employees take ad- vantage of customer empowerment by encouraging them to self-regulate their work-related behavior; employees were able to express their promotion focus in the form of generating novel and useful solutions.

Limitations and Directions for Future Research

These contributions should be qualified in light of several limitations. First, while we have collected multilevel multi- source data, some key variables were measured within the same time frame in the same survey. The prevailing theoretical logic in organizational behavior is that individual behaviors are more likely to be influenced by personal attributes, followed by contextual factors and higher-level variables (Mathieu & Tay- lor, 2007). Regulatory focus theory also conceptualizes that

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1373FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

promotion focus can be a malleable state that is evoked by people in positions of influence in the workplace (e.g., Crowe & Higgins, 1997). Although our research design precluded us from drawing conclusions concerning causality, these theoret- ical arguments help justify the causal order of our theory: employees’ perception of the external context (i.e., customer empowering behaviors) influences their motivation during the service (i.e., promotion focus), which affects their engagement in generating creative ideas. A useful next step would be to conduct experimental studies in which customer behaviors are manipulated.

Second, we urge future research to further validate our mea- sures, replicate our findings, and extend our work by examining the role of customer behaviors on other service outcomes. We have relied on employees’ perception of customer empowering behav- iors since employees are legitimate raters of customer behaviors and possess direct information about the relationship with custom- ers. However, it would be informative to have a third party observe and code customer empowering behaviors in the service interac- tions, which would offer a more objective measure of customer behaviors. It will also be valuable to examine the convergent and discriminant validity of customer empowering behaviors with other service-related constructs, such as customer–employee rap- port (Hennig-Thurau, Groth, Paul, Gremler, 2006) and customer trust in service employees (Madjar & Ortiz-Walters, 2008). Addi- tionally, while promotion focus at work has been considered as employee motivation toward one’s job on average, we found that it could be conceptualized as a state that is momentarily affected by influential others. Because field studies on regulatory focus states are in their infancy, and we are not aware of any measures of state promotion focus, we adapted one from a scale that assesses employees’ average promotion focus at work. Although in our pilot study we have demonstrated the criteria validity of the scale, more research is warranted to examine the content validity and to further refine our measure by conducting pilot interviews in ser- vice contexts.

Third, a fruitful path to expand our contributions would be to explore the conditions under which customers are more likely to empower. Service literature has suggested that organizations’ high performance work systems have the potential to enhance the quality of customer–employee interaction (e.g., Chuang & Liao, 2010; Liao & Chuang, 2004). Future research may examine whether it is an effective condition to cultivate customer empow- ering behaviors. Customers’ willingness to promote empowerment may also vary upon their own demands. Some research has indi- cated that the more complex or demanding a customer’s requests, the more likely the customer needs to depend on the service provider’s expertise (Wang & Netemeyer, 2002) through empow- erment. On the other hand, it is possible that with easier problems, customers may feel more comfortable to take a hand-off approach and not engage in micromanagement during the service (e.g., Yukl & Fu, 1999). These possibilities imply that customer demands may influence the extent to which customers would empower employ- ees.

Fourth, given the partial mediation found in the study, it is likely that other mechanisms exist that can link customer empowering behaviors to employee creativity. We selected regulatory focus due to its relevance and close relationship to both empowerment and creativity, yet other motivational, emotional, and behavioral mech-

anisms are worth investigating. In particular, integrating insights from affective events theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996) may advance understanding of how customer empowering behaviors, as a salient feature of employees’ immediate job contexts, can pro- voke a range of affective reactions (e.g., satisfying, enthusiastic, or relaxed). The emotional experience may explain additional vari- ance in individual creativity. States of felt challenge or individual tendency of feedback seeking may also help explain the effect of customer empowering behaviors as they have been suggested to relate to empowerment and/or creativity (e.g., Chen, Lam, & Zhong, 2007; Ohly & Fritz, 2010).

Conclusion

This study introduces customers as critical agents of empower- ing behaviors who can effectively motivate employee creativity, in part, through affecting state promotion focus in the focal employ- ees. The positive impact from empowering customers was magni- fied when an empowering supervisor was also present. These findings bring a new perspective to the examination of customer– employee interactions and reveal the motivational impact of cus- tomers on an important service outcome: employee creativity. We hope this work will set the stage for future research on understand- ing customers as motivators in the service process and examining other important customer behaviors. We also encourage efforts to identify contextual factors inside and outside the organization that will jointly enhance employee creativity.

References

Ahearne, M., Mathieu, J., & Rapp, A. (2005). To empower or not to empower your sales force? An empirical examination of the influence of leadership empowerment behavior on customer satisfaction and perfor- mance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 945–955. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1037/0021-9010.90.5.945

Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Amabile, T. M. (1988). A model of creativity and innovations in organi- zations. In B. M. Staw & L. L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organi- zational behavior (Vol. 10, pp. 123–167). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Amabile, T. M., Schatzel, E. A., Moneta, G. B., & Kramer, S. J. (2004). Leader behaviors and the work environment for creativity: Perceived leader support. The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 5–32. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.leaqua.2003.12.003

Arnold, J. J., Arad, S., Rhoades, J. A., & Drasgow, F. (2000). The Empowering Leadership Questionnaire: The construction and validation of a new scale for measuring leader behaviors. Journal of Organiza- tional Behavior, 21, 249–269. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099- 1379(200005)21:3�249::AID-JOB10�3.0.CO;2-#

Baer, M., Leenders, R. T. A. J., Oldham, G. R., & Vadera, A. (2010). Win or lose the battle for creativity: The power and perils of intergroup competition. Academy of Management Journal, 53, 827–845. http://dx .doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2010.52814611

Bateson, J. E. G. (1985). Perceived control and the service encounter. In J. A. Czepiel, M. R. Solomon, & C. F. Suprenant (Eds.), The service encounter: Managing employee/customer interactions in service busi- nesses (pp. 67–82). Lexington, MA: Heath.

Bauer, D. J., Preacher, K. J., & Gil, K. M. (2006). Conceptualizing and testing random indirect effects and moderated mediation in multilevel models: New procedures and recommendations. Psychological Methods, 11, 142–163. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1082-989X.11.2.142

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1374 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

Bogers, M., Afuah, A., & Bastian, B. (2010). Users as innovators: A review, critique, and future research directions. Journal of Management, 36, 857–875. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0149206309353944

Borucki, C. C., & Burke, M. J. (1999). An examination of service-related antecedents to retail store performance. Journal of Organizational Be- havior, 20, 943–962. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379 (199911)20:6�943::AID-JOB976�3.0.CO;2-9

Bowen, D. E. (1983). Customers as substitutes for leadership in service organizations (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Department of Man- agement, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.

Bowen, D. E., & Schneider, B. (1988). Services marketing and manage- ment: Implications for organizational behavior. In B. M. Staw & L. L. Cummings (Eds.), Research in organizational behavior (Vol. 10, pp. 43–80). Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.

Brockner, J., & Higgins, E. T. (2001). Regulatory focus theory: Implica- tions for the study of emotions at work. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86, 35–66. http://dx.doi.org/10.1006/obhd .2001.2972

Burke, M. J., Borucki, C. C., & Hurley, A. E. (1992). Reconceptualizing psychological climate in a retail service environment: A multiple- stakeholder perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 717–729. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.77.5.717

Carver, C. S., & Scheier, M. F. (1981). Attention and self-regulation: A control-theory approach to human behavior. New York, NY: Springer. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4612-5887-2

Central Intelligence Agency. (2013). The world factbook (United States). Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world- factbook/geos/us.html

Chase, R. B. (1981). The customer contact approach to services: Theoret- ical bases and practical extension. Operations Research, 29, 698–706. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/opre.29.4.698

Chen, G., & Bliese, P. D. (2002). The role of different levels of leadership in predicting self- and collective efficacy: Evidence for discontinuity. Journal of Applied Psychology, 87, 549–556. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ 0021-9010.87.3.549

Chen, G., & Kanfer, R. (2006). Toward a systems theory of motivated behavior in work teams. Research in Organizational Behavior, 27, 223–267. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0191-3085(06)27006-0

Chen, G., Sharma, P. N., Edinger, S. K., Shapiro, D. L., & Farh, J.-L. (2011). Motivating and demotivating forces in teams: Cross-level influ- ences of empowering leadership and relationship conflict. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96, 541–557. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021886

Chen, Z., Lam, W., & Zhong, J. A. (2007). Leader–member exchange and member performance: A new look at individual-level negative feedback- seeking behavior and team-level empowerment climate. Journal of Ap- plied Psychology, 92, 202–212. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92 .1.202

Chuang, C. H., & Liao, H. (2010). Strategic human resource management in service context: Taking care of business by taking care of employees and customers. Personnel Psychology, 63, 153–196. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2009.01165.x

Conger, J. A., & Kanungo, R. N. (1988). The empowerment process: Integrating theory and practice. The Academy of Management Review, 3, 471–482.

Crowe, E., & Higgins, E. T. (1997). Regulatory focus and strategic incli- nations: Promotion and prevention in decision-making. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 69, 117–132. http://dx.doi .org/10.1006/obhd.1996.2675

De Cremer, D., Mayer, D. M., van Dijke, M., Schouten, B. C., & Bardes, M. (2009). When does self-sacrificial leadership motivate prosocial behavior? It depends on followers’ prevention focus. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 887–899. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0014782

Dietz, J., Pugh, S. D., & Wiley, J. (2004). Service climate effects on customer attitudes: An examination of boundary conditions. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 81–92. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/20159561

Dong, Y., Liao, H., Chuang, A., Zhou, J., & Campbell, E. M. (2012). An invisible hand in employee service creativity: Customer empowering behaviors. In L. A. Toombs (Ed.), Proceedings of the 72nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, (CD) ISSN 1543–8643.

Förster, J., Friedman, R. S., & Liberman, N. (2004). Temporal construal effects on abstract and concrete thinking: Consequences for insight and creative cognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 87, 177–189. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.87.2.177

Förster, J., Higgins, E. T., & Idson, L. C. (1998). Approach and avoidance strength during goal attainment: Regulatory focus and the “goal looms larger” effect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1115– 1131. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.75.5.1115

Foss, N. J., Laursen, K., & Pedersen, T. (2011). Linking customer inter- action and innovation: The mediating role of new organizational prac- tices. Organization Science, 22, 980–999. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/orsc .1100.0584

Friedman, R. S., & Förster, J. (2001). The effects of promotion and prevention cues on creativity. Journal of Personality and Social Psy- chology, 81, 1001–1013.

Gilson, L. L., Mathieu, J. E., Shalley, C. E., & Ruddy, T. M. (2005). Creativity and standardization: Complementary or conflicting drivers of team effectiveness. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 521–531. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2005.17407916

Gong, Y., Huang, J. C., & Farh, J. L. (2009). Employee learning orienta- tion, transformational leadership, and employee creativity: The mediat- ing role of employee creative self-efficacy. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 765–778. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2009.43670890

Gotlieb, B. H., Grewal, D., & Brown, S. W. (1994). Consumer satisfaction and perceived quality: Complementary or divergent construct? Journal of Applied Psychology, 79, 875–885. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021- 9010.79.6.875

Grant, A. M. (2007). Relational job design and the motivation to make a prosocial difference. The Academy of Management Review, 32, 393– 417. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMR.2007.24351328

Grant, A. M. (2011). How customers can rally your troops. Harvard Business Review, June, 97–103.

Grant, A. M., & Hofmann, D. A. (2011). Outsourcing inspiration: The performance effects of ideological messages from leaders and benefi- ciaries. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 116, 173–187. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2011.06.005

Grizzle, J. W., Zablah, A. R., Brown, T. J., Mowen, J. C., & Lee, J. M. (2009). Employee customer orientation in context: How the environment moderates the influence of customer orientation on performance out- comes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1227–1242. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1037/a0016404

Gutek, B. A., Groth, M., & Cherry, B. (2002). Achieving service success through relationships and enhanced encounters. The Academy of Man- agement Executive, 16, 132–144. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AME.2002 .8951340

Hennig-Thurau, T., Groth, M., Paul, M., & Gremler, D. D. (2006). Are all smiles created equal? How emotional contagion and emotional labor affect service relationships. Journal of Marketing, 70, 58–73. http://dx .doi.org/10.1509/jmkg.70.3.58

Higgins, E. T. (1997). Beyond pleasure and pain. American Psychologist, 52, 1280–1300. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.52.12.1280

Higgins, E. T. (1998). Promotion and prevention: Regulatory focus as a motivational principle. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 1–46. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0065-2601(08)60381-0

Hirst, G., van Knippenberg, D., & Zhou, J. (2009). A cross-level perspec- tive on employee creativity: Goal orientation, team learning behavior,

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1375FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

and individual creativity. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 280– 293. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2009.37308035

Hong, Y., Liao, H., Hu, J., & Jiang, K. (2013). Missing link in the service profit chain: A meta-analytic review of the antecedents, consequences, and moderators of service climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98, 237–267. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031666

Hox, J. (2002). Multilevel analysis: Techniques and applications. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hur, Y., van den Berg, P. T., & Wilderom, C. P. M. (2011). Transforma- tional leadership as a mediator between emotional intelligence and team outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 22, 591–603. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.05.002

James, L. R., Demaree, R. G., & Wolf, G. (1984). Estimating within-group interrater reliability with and without response bias. Journal of Applied Psychology, 69, 85–98. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.69.1.85

Janssen, O. (2005). The joint impact of perceived influence and supervisor supportiveness on employee innovative behavior. Journal of Occupa- tional and Organizational Psychology, 78, 573–579. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1348/096317905X25823

Jokisaari, M., & Nurmi, J. E. (2009). Change in newcomers’ supervisor support and socialization outcomes after organizational entry. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 527–544. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMJ .2009.41330971

Kanfer, R. (1990). Motivation theory and industrial and organizational psychology. In M. D. Dunnette & L. Hough (Eds.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 75–170). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Kark, R., & van Dijk, D. (2007). Motivation to lead motivation to follow: The role of the self-regulatory focus in leadership processes. The Acad- emy of Management Review, 32, 500–528. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/ AMR.2007.24351846

Kluger, A. N., & Ganzach, Y. (2004). Two faces of excellence: Perfection versus eminence. In G. B. Graen (Ed.), New frontiers of leadership (pp. 67–97). Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Liao, H., & Chuang, A. (2004). A multilevel investigation of factors influencing employee service performance and customer outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 41–58. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/ 20159559

Liao, H., & Chuang, A. (2007). Transforming service employees and climate: A multilevel, multisource examination of transformational lead- ership in building long-term service relationships. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1006–1019. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.4 .1006

Liao, H., Toya, K., Lepak, D. P., & Hong, Y. (2009). Do they see eye to eye? Management and employee perspectives of high-performance work systems and influence processes on service quality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 371–391. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0013504

Liberman, N., Idson, L. C., Camacho, C. J., & Higgins, E. T. (1999). Promotion and prevention choices between stability and change. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 1135–1145. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1037/0022-3514.77.6.1135

Lorinkova, N. M., Pearsall, M. J., & Sims, H. P., Jr. (2013). Examining the differential longitudinal performance of directive versus empowering leadership in teams. Academy of Management Journal, 56, 573–596. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amj.2011.0132

Madjar, N., Oldham, G. R., & Pratt, M. G. (2002). There’s no place like home? The contributions of work and nonwork creativity support to employees creative performance. Academy of Management Journal, 45, 757–767. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3069309

Madjar, N., & Ortiz-Walters, R. (2008). Customers as contributors and reliable evaluators of creativity in the service industry. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29, 949–966. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/job .522

Madjar, N., & Ortiz-Walters, R. (2009). Trust in supervisors and trust in customers: Their independent, relative, and joint effects on employee performance and creativity. Human Performance, 22, 128–142. http:// dx.doi.org/10.1080/08959280902743501

Martin, S. L., Liao, H., & Campbell, E. M. (2013). Directive versus empowering leadership: A field experiment comparing impacts on task proficiency and proactivity. Academy of Management Journal, 56, 1372–1395. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amj.2011.0113

Mathieu, J., Ahearne, M., & Taylor, S. R. (2007). A longitudinal cross- level model of leader and salesperson influences on sales force technol- ogy use and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 528–537. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.2.528

Mathieu, J. E., & Taylor, S. R. (2007). A framework for testing meso- mediational relationships in organizational behavior. Journal of Orga- nizational Behavior, 28, 141–172. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/job.436

Mayer, D. M., Ehrhart, M. G., & Schneider, B. (2009). Service attribute boundary conditions of the service climate–customer satisfaction link. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 1034–1050. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.5465/AMJ.2009.44635617

Mills, P. K., & Ungson, G. R. (2003). Reassessing the limits of structural empowerment: Organizational constitution and trust as controls. The Academy of Management Review, 28, 143–153.

Molyneaux, D. (2003). Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth—An aspiration applicable to business? Journal of Business Ethics, 48, 347–363. http://dx.doi.org/10.1023/B:BUSI.0000005746.55906.9d

Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2012). Mplus user’s guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.

Neubert, M. J., Kacmar, K. M., Carlson, D. S., Chonko, L. B., & Roberts, J. A. (2008). Regulatory focus as a mediator of the influence of initiating structure and servant leadership on employee behavior. Journal of Ap- plied Psychology, 93, 1220–1233. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0012695

Ohly, S., & Fritz, C. (2010). Work characteristics, challenge appraisal, creativity, and proactive behavior: A multi-level study. Journal of Or- ganizational Behavior, 31, 543–565. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/job.633

Oldham, G. R., & Cummings, A. (1996). Employee creativity: Personal and contextual factors at work. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 607–634. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/256657

Ordanini, A., & Parasuraman, A. (2011). Service innovation viewed through a service-dominant-logic lens: A conceptual framework and empirical analysis. Journal of Service Research, 14, 3–23. http://dx.doi .org/10.1177/1094670510385332

Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V. A., & Berry, L. L. (1985). A conceptual model of service quality and its implications for future research. Journal of Marketing, 49, 41–50. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1251430

Perry-Smith, J. E., & Shalley, C. E. (2003). The social side of creativity: A static and dynamic social network perspective. The Academy of Man- agement Review, 28, 89–106.

Pham, M. T., & Avnet, T. (2004). Ideals and oughts and the reliance on affect versus substance in persuasion. Journal of Consumer Research, 30, 503–518. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/380285

Pieterse, A. N., van Knippenberg, D., Schippers, M. C., & Stam, D. A. (2010). Transformational and transactional leadership and innovative behavior: The moderating role of psychological empowerment. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31, 609–623. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/job .650

Preacher, K. J., Curran, P. J., & Bauer, D. J. (2006). Computational tools for probing interaction effects in multiple linear regression, multi- level modeling, and latent curve analysis. Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, 31, 437– 448. http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/ 10769986031004437

Robert, C., Probst, T. M., Martocchio, J. J., Drasgow, F., & Lawler, J. J. (2000). Empowerment and continuous improvement in the United States, Mexico, Poland, and India: Predicting fit on the basis of the dimensions of power distance and individualism. Journal of Applied

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1376 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

Psychology, 85, 643– 658. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.85.5 .643

Salvaggio, A. N., Schneider, B., Nishii, L. H., Mayer, D. M., Ramesh, A., & Lyon, J. S. (2007). Manager personality, manager service quality orientation, and service climate: Test of a model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92, 1741–1750. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.92.6 .1741

Saparito, P. A., Chen, C. C., & Sapienza, H. J. (2004). The role of relational trust in bank-small firm relationships. Academy of Manage- ment Journal, 47, 400–410. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/20159589

Schneider, B. (1990). The climate for service: An application of the climate construct. In B. Schneider (Ed.), Organizational climate and culture (pp. 383–412). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Schneider, B. (2004). Welcome to the world of services management. The Academy of Management Executive, 18, 144–150. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.5465/AME.2004.13835918

Schneider, B., & Bowen, D. E. (1985). Employee and customer perceptions of service in banks: Replication and extension. Journal of Applied Psychology, 70, 423– 433. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.70.3 .423

Schneider, B., Bowen, D. E., Ehrhart, M. G., & Holcombe, K. M. (2000). The climate for service: Evolution of a construct. In N. M. Ashkanasy, C. P. M. Wilderom, & M. F. Peterson (Eds.), Handbook of organiza- tional culture and climate (pp. 21–36). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Schneider, B., Ehrhart, M. G., Mayer, D. M., Saltz, J. L., & Niles-Jolly, K. (2005). Understanding organization-customer links in service settings. Academy of Management Journal, 48, 1017–1032. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.5465/AMJ.2005.19573107

Schneider, B., Wheeler, J. K., & Cox, J. F. (1992). A passion for service: Using content analysis to explicate service climate themes. Journal of Applied Psychology, 77, 705–716. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010 .77.5.705

Schneider, B., White, S. S., & Paul, M. C. (1998). Linking service climate and customer perceptions of service quality: Test of a causal model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 150–163. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/ 0021-9010.83.2.150

Scott, S. G., & Bruce, R. A. (1994). Determinates of innovative behavior: A path model of individual innovation in the workplace. Academy of Management Journal, 37, 580–607. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/256701

Shalley, C. E., & Gilson, L. L. (2004). What leaders need to know: A review of social and contextual factors that can foster or hinder creativ- ity. The Leadership Quarterly, 15, 33–53. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j .leaqua.2003.12.004

Shalley, C. E., Zhou, J., & Oldham, G. R. (2004). The effects of personal and contextual characteristics on creativity: Where should we go from here? Journal of Management, 30, 933–958. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j .jm.2004.06.007

Shin, S. J., & Zhou, J. (2003). Transformational leadership, conservation and creativity: Evidence from Korea. Academy of Management Journal, 46, 703–714. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/30040662

Snijders, T., & Bosker, R. J. (1999). Multilevel analysis: An introduction to basic and advanced multilevel modeling. London, UK: Sage.

Spreitzer, G. M. (1995). Psychological empowerment in the workplace: Dimensions, measurement, and validation. Academy of Management Journal, 38, 1442–1465. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/256865

Spreitzer, G. M. (1996). Social structural characteristics of psychological empowerment. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 483–504. http:// dx.doi.org/10.2307/256789

Susskind, A. M., Kacmar, K. M., & Borchgrevink, C. P. (2003). Customer service providers’ attitudes relating to customer service and customer satisfaction in the customer-server exchange. Journal of Applied Psy- chology, 88, 179–187. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.88.1.179

Tan, H. H., Foo, M. D., & Kwek, M. H. (2004). The effects of customer personality traits on the display of positive emotions. Academy of Management Journal, 47, 287–296. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/20159579

Thomas, K. W., & Velthouse, B. A. (1990). Cognitive elements of em- powerment: An interpretive model of intrinsic task motivation. The Academy of Management Review, 15, 666–681.

Tierney, P., & Farmer, S. M. (2002). Creative self-efficacy: Potential antecedents and relationship to creative performance. Academy of Man- agement Journal, 45, 1137–1148. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3069429

Tierney, P., Farmer, S. M., & Graen, G. B. (1999). An examination of leadership and employee creativity: The relevance of traits and relation- ships. Personnel Psychology, 52, 591–620. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j .1744-6570.1999.tb00173.x

Van Dijk, D., & Kluger, A. N. (2011). Task type as a moderator of positive/negative feedback effects on motivation and performance: A regulatory focus perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32, 1084–1105. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/job.725

Vargo, S., & Lusch, R. F. (2004). Evolving to a new dominant logic for marketing. Journal of Marketing, 68, 1–17. http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/ jmkg.68.1.1.24036

Vargo, S., & Lusch, R. F. (2008). Service-dominant logic: Continuing the evolution. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36, 1–10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11747-007-0069-6

Vohs, K. D., & Baumeister, R. F. (2004). Understanding self-regulation. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 1–9). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Wang, G., & Netemeyer, R. G. (2002). The effects of job autonomy, customer demandingness, and trait competitiveness on salesperson learning, self-efficacy, and performance. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 30, 217–228. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/ 0092070302303003

Weiss, H. M., & Cropanzano, R. (1996). Affective events theory: A theoretical discussion of the structure, causes, and consequences of affective experi- ences at work. Research in Organizational Behavior, 18, 1–74.

Welbourne, T. A., Johnson, D. E., & Erez, A. (1998). The role-based performance scale: Validity analysis of a theory-based measure. Acad- emy of Management Journal, 41, 540–555. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/ 256941

Yukl, G. A., & Fu, P. (1999). Determinants of delegation and consultation by managers. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 20, 219–232. http:// dx.doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199903)20:2�219::AID- JOB922�3.0.CO;2-8

Yun, S., Cox, J., & Sims, H. P., Jr. (2006). The forgotten follower: A contingency model of leadership and follower self-leadership. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 21, 374 –388. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/ 02683940610663141

Zeng, L., Proctor, R. W., & Salvendy, G. (2012). User-based assess- ment of web site creativity: A review and appraisal. Behaviour & Information Technology, 31, 383– 400. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/ 01449291003686203

Zhang, X., & Bartol, K. M. (2010). Linking empowering leadership and employee creativity: The influence of psychological empowerment, in- trinsic motivation, and creative process engagement. Academy of Man- agement Journal, 53, 107–128. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMJ.2010 .48037118

Zhang, X., & Zhou, J. (2014). Empowering leadership, uncertainty avoid- ance, trust and employee creativity: Interaction effects and a mediating mechanism. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 124, 150–164. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.obhdp.2014.02.002

Zhao, X., Huo, B., Flynn, B., & Yeung, J. (2008). The impact of power and relationship commitment on integration between manufacturers and cus- tomers in a supply chain. Journal of Operations Management, 26, 368–388. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jom.2007.08.002

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1377FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

Zhou, J., & George, J. M. (2001). When job dissatisfaction leads to creativity: Encouraging the expression of voice. Academy of Management Journal, 44, 682– 696. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/ 3069410

Zhou, J., Hirst, G., & Shipton, H. (2012). Context matters: Combined influence of participation and intellectual stimulation on the promo- tion focus– employee creativity relationship. Journal of Organiza- tional Behavior, 33, 894 –909. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/job.779

Zhou, J., & Hoever, I. J. (2014). Research on workplace creativity: A review and redirection. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 11, 333–359. http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/ annurev-orgpsych-031413-091226

Zhou, J., Shin, S. J., Brass, D. J., Choi, J., & Zhang, Z. X. (2009). Social networks, personal values, and creativity: Evidence for curvilinear and interaction effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1544–1552. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0016285

Appendix A

Measurement of the Key Variables in the Study

Customer Empowering Behaviors Perceived by Employees (Adapted from Ahearne et al., 2005)

Instruction: To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about the customer you were serving just now?

The customer:

1. Helped me understand the meaning of my work to him/her.

2. Helped me see the importance of my work to him/her.

3. Made decisions about his/her hairstyle together with me.

4. Consulted me on decisions about his/her hairstyle.

5. Believed that I can handle demanding tasks.

6. Expressed confidence in my ability to perform at a high level.

7. Allowed me to provide service my way.

8. Allowed me to make important decisions to satisfy his/her needs.

Supervisory Empowering Leadership (Ahearne et al., 2005)

To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about your direct supervisor (or the store manager if no direct supervisor)?

My supervisor:

1. Helps me understand how my objectives and goals relate to that of the salon.

2. Helps me see the importance of my work to the overall effectiveness of the salon.

3. Helps me understand how my job fits into the bigger picture.

4. Makes many decision together with me.

5. Often consults me on strategic decisions.

6. Solicits my opinion on decisions that may affect me.

7. Believes that I can handle demanding tasks.

8. Believes in my ability to improve even when I make mistakes.

9. Expresses confidence in my ability to perform at a high level.

10. Allows me to do my job my way.

11. Makes it more efficient for me to do my job by keeping the rules and regulations simple.

12. Allows me to make important decisions to satisfy cus- tomer needs.

(Appendices continue)

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1378 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

Employee State Promotion Focus (Adapted from Neubert et al., 2008)

Instruction: To what extent do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about yourself when you were serving this customer?

1. I was motivated to better serve this customer by my aspirations.

2. I took chances to maximize my goals for advancement.

3. I focused on accomplishing tasks that will further my advancement.

4. I spent a great deal of time envisioning how to fulfill my aspirations.

5. I tended to take risks in order to achieve success.

Employee Service Creativity (Adapted from Zhou & George, 2001)

Instruction: According to your experience with the stylist who just provided service to you, to what extend do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about the stylist? This stylist:

1. Came up with creative solutions to problems I had.

2. Suggested new ways to achieve service objectives.

3. Came up with new and practical ideas to improve service quality.

4. Suggested new ways to increase service quality.

5. Was a good source of creative ideas.

6. Promoted and championed ideas to me.

7. Had a fresh approach to problems I had.

8. Suggested new ways of performing the tasks.

Customer Satisfaction (Gotlieb et al., 1994)

Instruction: According to your experience with the stylist who just provided service to you, to what extend do you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about the stylist?

1. I am happy about my decision to come to this stylist.

2. I believe I did the right thing when I came to this stylist.

3. Overall, I am satisfied with the decision to come to this stylist.

Note. the Italic, Bold Format in the Instruction Was Used in the Actual Survey.

Appendix B

Pilot Study: Validating the Measures of Customer Empowering Behaviors and Employee State Promotion Focus

To examine: a) whether customers demonstrated empowering behaviors when interacting with hairstylists, and whether these behaviors can be assessed by our customer empowering behaviors measure, and b) whether the employee state promotion focus measure can capture a context specific promotional state in cus- tomer service settings, we conducted a two-step pilot study to validate these two measures.

In Step 1, we surveyed 30 participants through an online survey tool (MTurk) to generate possible customer behaviors during a service encounter. Our final sample included 20 women and 10 men, with an average age of 38 (SD � 12) and a variety of occupational backgrounds. We asked them to describe their inter- action with a stylist in their most recent visit. We obtained 72 task-related customer behaviors. Five research assistants eval- uated the extent to which each behavior was captured by the definitions of four empowering behaviors dimensions and the definition of directive behaviors. We used customer directive

behaviors as a comparative construct since empowering lead- ership and directive leadership have been considered to be two foundational leadership models (Lorinkova, Pearsall, & Sims, 2013; Martin et al., 2013). Interrater reliabilities ranged from .79 to .90.

In Step 2, we created two customer–stylist interaction scenarios (one with an empowering customer, and the other with a directive customer) using the participant-generated behaviors obtained in Step 1. We then asked a sample of stylists from Taiwan to imagine him- or herself interacting with the hypothetical customer in one of the scenarios and rate the customer’s behaviors and their own promotion focus state. Our sample consisted of 138 stylists, with a response rate of 95%. Among them, 67 participants read the empowering customer scenario and 71 read the directive customer scenario. Specifically, we first measured promotion focus at work. The items were the same as the ones we used for the main study, but used the wording and instruction that refer to the average

(Appendices continue)

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1379FOSTERING EMPLOYEE SERVICE CREATIVITY

motivation at work. After they read the scenario, we asked the participants to rate the customer’s behaviors. Empowering behav- iors were measured using the scale in our primary study, and directive behaviors scale was adapted from Yun, Cox, and Sims’ (2006) directive leadership scale. Finally, we assessed stylists’ state promotion focus using the same scale in our primary study. To validate customer empowering behaviors measure, we ran paired-sample t-tests to compare customer empowering and direc- tive behaviors in the empowering scenario, as rated by the same stylist. The results indicated that the mean of customer empower- ing behaviors (mean � 4.28) was larger than the mean of customer directive behaviors (mean � 3.08), and that the difference was significant (t � 8.56, p � .05). We further compared customer empowering behaviors in two scenarios. Results showed that the mean of customer empowering behaviors in the empowering cus- tomer scenario (mean � 4.28) was larger than that in the directive customer scenario (mean � 3.75), and that the difference between the two was statistically significant (F � 21.15, p � .05). To- gether, the results indicated that: a) customers demonstrated em- powering behaviors as discussed in the leadership literature, when they interact with hairstylists, and b) these behaviors can be perceived by the frontline employees, and assessed using the measure adopted in our primary study.

To validate the state promotion focus measure, we compared the stylists’ average promotion focus at work and state promotion focus. We found that in the empowering scenario, state promotion focus was significantly larger than the promotion focus at work (�d � 4.19 – 4.07 � 0.12, t � 2.11, p � .05), whereas in the directive scenario, state promotion focus was significantly smaller than the promotion focus at work (�d � 3.87 – 4.11 � �.24, t � �3.45, p � .05). Moreover, ratings of state promotion focus in the two conditions were significantly different (F � 13.45, p � .05), with the empowering scenario related to higher levels of state promotion focus. In conclusion, the analysis indicated that: a) our state promotion focus measure was context specific, and employee state promotion focus captured by our measure may vary when serving different customers, and b) customers who behave differ- ently could influence the levels of stylists’ state promotion focus during the service encounters, as assessed by our measure. More details about the study are available upon request.

Received September 9, 2012 Revision received November 24, 2014

Accepted December 5, 2014 �

T hi

s do

cu m

en t

is co

py ri

gh te

d by

th e

A m

er ic

an Ps

yc ho

lo gi

ca l

A ss

oc ia

tio n

or on

e of

its al

lie d

pu bl

is he

rs .

T hi

s ar

tic le

is in

te nd

ed so

le ly

fo r

th e

pe rs

on al

us e

of th

e in

di vi

du al

us er

an d

is no

t to

be di

ss em

in at

ed br

oa dl

y.

1380 DONG, LIAO, CHUANG, ZHOU, AND CAMPBELL

  • Fostering Employee Service Creativity: Joint Effects of Customer Empowering Behaviors and Superv …
    • Theory and Hypotheses
      • Customer Empowering Behaviors
      • Customer Empowering Behaviors, Employee State Promotion Focus, and Creativity
      • Employee Creativity and Customer Satisfaction
      • Moderation by Supervisory Empowering Leadership
    • Method
      • Research Site, Procedures, and Sample
      • Measures
        • Employee-perceived customer empowering behaviors
        • Employee state promotion focus
        • Employee creativity
        • Customer satisfaction
        • Supervisory empowering leadership
        • Covariates
      • Analytical Strategy
    • Results
      • Discriminant Validity
      • Results of HLM Null Models
      • Hypotheses Testing
    • Discussion
      • Theoretical Contributions
      • Managerial Implications
      • Limitations and Directions for Future Research
    • Conclusion
    • References
    • Appendix AMeasurement of the Key Variables in the Study
      • Customer Empowering Behaviors Perceived by Employees (Adapted from Ahearne et al., 2005)
      • Supervisory Empowering Leadership (Ahearne et al., 2005)
      • Employee State Promotion Focus (Adapted from Neubert et al., 2008)
      • Employee Service Creativity (Adapted from Zhou & George, 2001)
      • Customer Satisfaction (Gotlieb et al., 1994)
    • Appendix BPilot Study: Validating the Measures of Customer Empowering Behaviors and Employee Sta …

Comments are closed.