Influence of Informal Institutions on Commitment to Customer Service in Confucian Asia.

Klein, A.; Horak, S.; Ahlf, H. & Nihalani, K. (2022). Influence of Informal Institutions on Commitment to Customer Service in Confucian Asia. Management Decision, forthcoming. DOI: 10.1108/MD-10-2021-1286

Research on the commitment to customer service (CCS) typically considers either trainable behavior or external stimuli such as financial incentives vital to CCS. Utilizing the cultural context of Confucian Asia, this study proposes a novel approach that shifts the focus towards the antecedents of the informal institutional environment. We test four informal institutions typical for Confucian Asia about their influence on CCS: power distance, perceived individual independence, openness to change, and informal network ties. Hypotheses are tested in a structural equation model using data obtained from a South Korean subject pool. Results show that informal institutions like power distance and network ties, and mediators like perceived individual independence and openness to change are positively related to CCS. Power distance and network ties also have a direct positive effect on openness to change. Moreover, power distance negatively affects perceived individual independence. Our findings contribute to the service management literature by showing that a given CCS of service employees can be explained by antecedents of the company’s informal institutional environment. From a human resource perspective, the informal institutional environment should be taken into account when establishing a supporting organizational culture and designing management training programs. This research introduces the institutional view to services management research, focusing on the role that informal institutions play. In particular, factors like power distance and network ties that influence CCS are tested for the first time.

Commitment, customer service, informal institutions, Confucian Asia, services management

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