Do Customers Assign Different Meanings to Different Acts of Compensation?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Holger Roschk of the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria. Roschk recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “Compensation Revisited: A Social Resource Theory Perspective on Offering a Monetary Resource after a Service Failure,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Roschk reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

dollar-531639_960_720One of the many propositions by social resource theory comprises that people assign different meanings to the same action. Being a great fan of mafia movies, this idea intrigued me as it nicely reflects the popular “kiss of death” metaphor. While a kiss is usually considered as something positive, it can also — as portrayed in these very special movie situations mean that a person has fallen in disgrace.

Fascinated by this idea, we wanted to see if complainants assign different meanings to an act of service failure compensation. In service recovery research, social resource theory has been employed in promising ways such as explaining the situational desirability of recovery efforts. Accordingly, it seemed logical to take the next step and see if varying the properties of one and the same resource—in our case money—impacts recovery effectiveness.

With this purpose in mind, we also had to deal with a couple of challenges. One of them was the above mentioned issue that people attach different meanings to the same action. It is not reported in the article, but it was quite interesting. Accidentally, in one of our tests we manipulated the compensation act in such a way that respondents seemed to assign a negative meaning, eventually leading to obstructive effects which was exactly the contrary of what we wanted to achieve.

People often talk about money in terms of “money is money—so why should one care about how it is given?” Finding that complainants actually do care about how they are compensated in a recovery situation is an interesting new perspective for practitioners and researchers alike. Practitioners in particular learn about an outcome relevant property allowing to facilitate recovery outcomes without additional monetary costs. Further, they learn about an interesting side effect. Specifically, we observed that handing over the money in a personal and tangible way can be used to increase monetary returns to the firm in the form of tipping and cross-buying.

With regards to the research community, we hope that future scholars also draw on social resource theory in order to broaden our understanding of service failure and recovery, especially as SRT comprises many more propositions not yet considered.

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An Educator’s Perspective on Reflexive Pedagogy: Identity Undoing and Issues of Power

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Marian Iszatt-White of the Lancaster University Management School. Dr. Iszatt-White recently published an article in Management Learning entitled “An educator’s perspective on reflexive pedagogy: identity undoing and issues of power,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Iszatt-White reveals the inspiration for conducting this research and the impact it has on the field:]

mlqb_48_3.coverWhat motivated you to pursue this research?

All the authors of this paper are teachers as well as researchers, and spend much of our time working with ‘gnarly’ middle managers on executive education programmes and Executive MBAs. It was piloting an innovative leadership learning intervention (co-constructed coaching – the subject of an earlier paper in Management Learning by Steve and myself) with this latter population that triggered the insights underpinning this paper. Specifically, we realised that adopting a reflexive pedagogy had implications for us as ‘teachers’ as well as for our students. This was not the direction we intended the paper to go, but it really hit us as something important and not well understood in the literature. The idea of ‘identity undoing’, which Brigid had already developed, seemed key to our own experiences and offered a valuable framework for processing and theorizing them.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

A significant challenge in conducting this research was the autoethnographic element – which was not part of the original design but still needed to be methodologically robust. Our original intention had been to validate the idea of co-constructed coaching as a leadership learning intervention, which we had previously proposed. An early draft of the paper, pursuing this intent, happened to mention our own experience of implementing this intervention and our reviewers picked up on this as being interesting. This led Steve and I to home in on this previously marginal aspect of the project and to bring Brigid in as an ‘independent witness’ to our reflections on what it felt like to adopt a reflexive pedagogy. Brigid did a great job of ‘interrogating’ and then narrating key elements of this experience, which we were then able to theorize in relation to identity undoing and issues of power.

In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?

In undertaking this analysis, we problematize the pursuit of a reflexive pedagogical practice within executive and postgraduate education and offer a paradox: the desire to engage students in reflexive learning interventions – and in particular to disrupt the power asymmetries and hierarchical dependencies of more traditional educator-student relationships – can in practice have the effect of highlighting those very asymmetries and dependencies. Successful resolution of such a paradox becomes dependent on the capacity of educators to undo their own reliance on and even desire for authority underpinned by a sense of theory-based expertise. We belief this insight – as well as the innovative use of autoethnographic methods to turn a critically reflexive lens upon academic teaching – will provide food for thought (and for further research) across a wide range of academic disciplines. With the introduction in the UK of the Teaching Excellence Framework, now seems to be a fitting time to review what it means to be an ‘expert’ teacher.

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Contemporary Careers and Portable Selves

Author Gianpiero Petriglieri recently published an article in the Harvard Business Review, promoting his research. His most recent publication, “Fast Tracks and Inner Journeys: Crafting Portable Selves for Contemporary Careers” was featured in Administrative Science Quarterly. For more details, the abstract for Petriglieri’s research is below:

ASQ_72ppiRGB_powerpointThrough a longitudinal, qualitative study of 55 managers engaged in mobile careers across organizations, industries, and countries, and pursuing a one-year international master’s of business administration (MBA), we build a process model of the crafting of portable selves in temporary identity workspaces. Our findings reveal that contemporary careers in general, and temporary membership in an institution, fuel people’s efforts to craft portable selves: selves endowed with definitions, motives, and abilities that can be deployed across roles and organizations over time. Two pathways for crafting a portable self—one adaptive, the other exploratory—emerged from the interaction of individuals’ aims and concerns with institutional resources and demands. Each pathway involved developing a coherent understanding of the self in relation to others and to the institution that anchored participants to their current organization while preparing them for future ones. The study shows how institutions that host members temporarily can help them craft selves that afford a sense of agentic direction and enduring connection, tempering anxieties and bolstering hopes associated with mobile working lives. It also suggests that institutions serving as identity workspaces for portable selves may remain attractive and extend their cultural influence in an age of workforce mobility.

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The Evolution and Prospects of Service-Dominant Logic Research

[We’re pleased to welcome author Dr. Ralf Wilden of Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle, Australia. Dr. Wilden recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “The Evolution and Prospects of Service-dominant Logic Research: An Investigation of Past, Present, and Future Research,” which is currently free to read for a limited time.” Below, Dr. Wilden reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

02JSR13_Covers.inddService innovation is a driving force of economic growth in developed economies. Large corporations, such as BMW and IBM, increasingly define their business as service centric. For example, the BMW Group has moved away from defining their value proposition being focused on cars and motorcycles to positioning themselves as a mobility provider, thus moving away from a product-centered to service-centered narrative. The ‘servitization’ of traditional business models converges with a growing academic discourse around the emergence and evolution of the so-called ‘service-dominant logic’. Ongoing studies in this area explore the value of service in dynamic exchange systems and how managers are responding to or guided by ideas that 1) service forms the basis of all economic exchange, 2) value is always co-created between relevant actors, and 3) so-called operant resources are central to value co-creation.

In a recent study in the Journal of Service Research, an international team of researchers studied existing research to uncover core concepts and thematic shifts in the development of new knowledge in this field. More specifically, they studied how service-dominant logic advances the understanding of how value is created and service is innovated in dynamic service ecosystems. Based on a citation analyses and text mining of more than 300 key articles, the authors identify how service-dominant logic bridges traditional service research (e.g., regarding satisfaction, quality and customer experiences) with strategic and systems views. However, looking at the evolution of service-dominant logic research over time, it appears focus on strategic research has waned. Thus, the authors argue future studies should draw on several specific research areas to develop frameworks to aid managers in strategically thinking about service design and innovation.

The results from this study verify service-dominant logic is highly influential in areas such as customer engagement and value cocreation. An underlying shift towards social and systemic perspectives is also evident. However, many valuable insights emerging from the wealth of relevant studies have not yet impacted research regarding managerial decision-making and strategy development on a large scale. Furthermore, the authors identify the need to develop a stronger understanding of the way service-dominant logic can be used to inform how managerial actions and social and cultural practices influence and are influenced by a wider service ecosystem. For example, Ralf Wilden says “the way organizations engage in innovation-related activities has changed from a firm-centric model to a model that stresses the importance of knowledge in-flows and out-flows across organizational boundaries.” He adds, “despite the commonly accepted importance of services in value creation activities our knowledge about the role of open innovation in service ecosystems is limited.” The authors further stress that service thinking has benefited from interdisciplinary research in the past. Moving forward, combining service-dominant research with organizational strategy insights in the area of open innovation, dynamic capabilities and microfoundations, together with social, cultural and systems theories, can lead to developing new knowledge regarding service and drive continual improvement in service design and innovation.

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Stages of Corporate Sustainability: Integrating the Strong Sustainability Worldview

[We’re pleased to welcome author Nancy E. Landrum of Loyola University Chicago. Landrum recently published an article in Stages of Corporate Sustainability: Integrating the Strong Sustainability Worldview,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Landrum reflects on the inspiration for conducting her research and her contribution to the field:]

O&E_72ppiRGB_powerpointI recently read sustainability reports produced by mining companies.  The reports stated the companies were balancing economic, social, and environmental responsibilities, their environmental impact was minimized while their social benefits were maximized, and they were striving to be environmental leaders.  Yet the dictionary describes sustainability as using a resource in a way that it is not depleted or permanently damaged.  I thought it was ironic that mining companies could claim they were operating sustainably since resource depletion is the purpose of mining.

I went back to the literature on the sustainability spectrum which suggests that sustainability is a continuum that ranges from weak to strong sustainability.  It occurred to me that while the mining companies’ activities did not match my understanding of sustainability, there could, in fact, be multiple interpretations of sustainability.  Companies’ activities could be placed along the sustainability spectrum to define whether they were following the principles of weak sustainability, strong sustainability, or somewhere in between.

This lead to the integration of 22 micro- and macro-level models of stages of development in corporate sustainability which were then aligned with the sustainability spectrum.  I found that existing models had numerous stages that aligned with weak sustainability but did not include stages that aligned with strong sustainability.  The integration of existing models and subsequent alignment with the sustainability spectrum resulted in the creation of a new unified model for stages of corporate sustainability that now included strong sustainability.

This new model allows us to see that companies can be at varying points along the sustainability spectrum and reveals multiple interpretations of sustainability.  While mining companies might be at one end of the spectrum, more progressive companies might be further along the spectrum; they are at different stages based upon their differing interpretations of corporate sustainability.  Most importantly, with the inclusion of strong sustainability, this new model expands our view beyond what currently defines corporate sustainability and opens new territory for the pursuit of a more sustainable future.

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A One of a Kind Scholar and a Macromarketer

Image result for Robert F luschWhat is the Market? Is it a physical space where people come to buy and sell goods and services? Is it an economic force that pushes businesses to compete? Or is it a social space where our mental models of society interact with strangers?

Macromarketer Robert F. Lusch worked from this third perspective, analyzing the market from a holistic approach and included various analyses from other social sciences. He was a prolific author with a long list of publications, who received various awards and honorary appointments. While his colleagues mourn his passing, they  reflect on his humble and confident personality, and his unique approach of combining Marketing and Ethics.

Mark Peterson recently published an article in the Journal of Macromarketing entitled “Robert F. Lusch –One of a Kind Scholar and a Macromarketer,” which is free to read for a limited time. The abstract for this article is below:

Robert FLusch spoke in a plenary session at the 2015 Macromarketing Conference in Chicago and shared four ideas he felt will have importance to macromarketing scholars in the future. His essay “The Long Macro View” follows. In it, he highlights humans’ innate propensity for 1) engaging in exchange, 2) creating technology, 3) encountering choices with unseen costs, and 4) developing institutions to coordinate interactions with each other. Four macromarketers offer their own comments on this essay: 1) Gene R. Laczniak (who also organized the set of commentaries on “The Long Macro View”), 2) Olga Kravets, 3) Clifford J. Shultz, II, and 4) Roger A. Layton. These commentaries were authored and edited shortly before Bob Lusch passed away.

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Photo of Robert F. Lusch attributed to the University of Arizona.

Are Voluntary Agreements Better? Evidence from Baseball Arbitration

[We’re pleased to welcome author John W. Budd of the University of Minnesota. Budd recently published an article in the ILR Review entitled “Are Voluntary Agreements Better? Evidence from Baseball Arbitration,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Budd reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]

Coaches Umpires Pre-game Meeting BaseballThink of a dispute you’ve had with a person or entity that you have an ongoing relationship with, like a business, employer, co-worker, or neighbor. Was that dispute resolved between the two of you, or did it involve a third-party determination by a judge, arbitrator, superior, or some other authority? Do you think it mattered how the dispute was resolved? Would your behavior have changed if it was resolved differently?

Conflict resolution professionals and academics have long believed that voluntarily-negotiated agreements produce better long-run relationships than third-party imposed resolutions. This is because the participants can control their own destiny, tailor agreements to their liking, and feel greater ownership in the process and the outcome. Sounds sensible. But there is very little evidence beyond the parties feeling satisfied immediately after resolution. Maybe a formal procedure like a courtroom or arbitration hearing provides greater levels of due process, or the process doesn’t really matter for a long-term relationship because people forget what happened. The motivation for our research in “Are Voluntary Agreements Better? Evidence from Baseball Arbitration” is to provide evidence on this conventional wisdom, and to hopefully spur others to rigorously analyze this important issue in other settings.

Perhaps one reason why there is not much evidence on the long-term effects of dispute resolution mechanisms is that it’s challenging to find research settings in which the same type of dispute is resolved in different ways and in which the long-term effects can be consistently measured. We identified Major League Baseball as a compelling setting for these analyses because individual performance is well measured, the possibility of relationship breakdown is quite real, the negotiation and arbitration events are uniform and comparable across players, and both voluntary and imposed resolutions are routinely observed. Baseball players with between three (sometimes two) and six years of service are eligible for salary arbitration with their current team. In any given year, some go to arbitration while many settle voluntarily. If voluntarily-negotiated agreements are meaningfully better, then in the following season we would expect to see better on-field performance and more lasting relationships for those who voluntarily reached a salary agreement compared to those who went to arbitration and had a new salary imposed on them.

Using 24 years of data comparing players who arbitrated with those who settled just before arbitrating, we find partial support for the conventional wisdom. We find that relationships are more durable when the player and club negotiate a new salary rather than having a salary imposed by an arbitrator. Specifically, arbitration nearly doubles the likelihood of a player not being with the same team at the end of the season. But there are no statistically significant differences in on-field performance between players who go to arbitration and those who settle voluntarily. This might be due to longer-term career concerns. Most arbitration-eligible players are early in their careers and their on-field performance is visible to other clubs. So they have incentives to set aside any residual feelings from the dispute-resolution process and to perform at a high level in order to position themselves for a lucrative, subsequent contract.

This pattern of results is consistent with scenarios in which the arbitration process harms the player-club relationship and negatively affects player behaviors that are hard to observe (e.g., clubhouse attitude, loyalty to the team), but career concerns and/or loyalty to teammates and fans causes a player to continue to publicly perform at his usual level. Such a scenario can be generalized into an hypothesis that could be applied to other settings—that is, the effect of a dispute resolution procedure will be smaller on dimensions of performance that are valued and easily observed by potential, future partners and larger where performance is harder for future potential partners to observe.

While the data come from the context of professional baseball, these results are important for dispute resolution researchers and practitioners with implications beyond professional baseball. The claimed superiority of voluntary dispute resolution procedures is neither uniformly rejected nor supported. Additional research and perhaps some re-thinking of longstanding assumptions are therefore needed.

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