Edinburgh Research Explorer

The spillover effect of customer mistreatment on frontline employees' subsequent performance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Related Edinburgh Organisations

Open Access permissions



Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
EditorsGuclu Atinc
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jul 2018
Event2018 Academy of Management Annual Conference - Chicago, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201815 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameAcademy of management proceedings
ISSN (Print)0065-0668
ISSN (Electronic)2151-6561


Conference2018 Academy of Management Annual Conference
CountryUnited States
City Chicago


Mistreatment by customers is a common occurrence for frontline service employees that is associated with employees’ impaired long-term well-being and performance. Theoretical work has attributed the development of these long-term consequences in part to the spillover effects associated with mistreatment, as being mistreated by one customer may compromise the employee’s ability to deliver services to subsequent customers. In this paper, we draw from resource depletion theory to conduct two studies testing the spillover effect of customer mistreatment on employees’ subsequent performance. In Study 1, we conducted an experiment whereby we manipulated the level of mistreatment. We found that customer mistreatment predicted lower service performance towards the next customer and that the effect was mediated by the loss of regulatory resources. In Study 2, we conducted a field study and examined the role of display rule commitment as moderator of the spillover effects associated with mistreatment. We found that high display rule commitment acted as a buffer to the negative relationship between customer mistreatment and subsequent service performance. Together, our findings highlight how episodes of customer mistreatment can trigger subsequent declines in performance and well-being, and the role of regulatory resources in buffering its associated effects.

    Research areas

  • customer mistreatment, service performance, resource depletion, display rule commitment


2018 Academy of Management Annual Conference


Chicago, United States

Event: Conference

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 57345945