Service quality has been shown to be critical for the success of service organisations. However, the quality of service delivered by an organisation is dependent on the behaviours of organisational members. Therefore, understanding the various processes that foster desirable service behaviour is important. While there have been many studies which deal with antecedents of service delivery, research adopting a cultural perspective and focusing on elements such as shared values and norms have been somewhat sparse. This is quite surprising given the amount of reference to the importance of a service culture.
Recently, there have been calls for research into the cultural determinants of service quality and in particular service culture. This study answers the call by testing a multi-layer model of service culture and performance. The key objectives of the study relate to understanding how service culture leads to both customer-based and financial performance, as well as investigating the process of culture transmission from managers to employees.
On the basis of data collected from management and employees, the study assesses service culture at the management and the employee levels, focusing simultaneously on assumptions, value, norms and behaviours. Two routes for culture transmission: the social contagion and behavioural routes are hypothesised and tested. The key findings are that shared service norms are the key impact point of culture transmission from management to employees as well as the key determinant of employee service delivery behaviour. The findings also show that proximity among managers and employees is crucial in the diffusion of service culture and hence in the leadership influencing process. Based on the findings, managerial implications for managing service employees are discussed as well as limitations and suggestions for future research.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.