Investigating employee-customer identification and its determinants and outcomes in the hospitality industry
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Although a plethora of research has examined social identification theory from employee and organisation perspectives, such as work group, department or organisation, little is known regarding employees’ relational identification processes with customers. This study empirically investigates a conceptual model of employee-customer identification along with its determinants (i.e. extraversion and perceived organisational support) and outcome (i.e. service recovery performance) in the hospitality industry. This study utilised an online survey. A total of 262 hotel frontline employees in New Zealand participated in this research. Data was analysed by using the Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 22, and Structural Equation Modelling using LISREL 8.8. The findings of this study showed that both extraversion and perceived organisational support have a significant, positive influence on employee-customer identification. The findings also revealed that employees with a high level of employee-customer identification tend to show a high level of service recovery performance. The findings of this research contribute further to hospitality scholarship and organisational behaviour scholarship that deeply and theoretically study employees’ relational identification with customers in different fields and examine its determinants and outcomes. The findings also suggest, to both behavioural and psychological scholars, that individuals’ personality traits need to be continually studied in the academic research field. In addition, the findings present practitioners significant insight into how to improve employees’ and customers’ interpersonal relationships and how the interpersonal relationship influences employees’ service recovery performance. The findings suggest that providing sufficient organisational support to employees can build- up employees’ interpersonal relationships with customers and enhance employee-customer identification, which leads to high employee service recovery performance.