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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Forgive or Vengeance: Employee response to customer incivility

Published: May 27, 2020


M S Balaji, University of Nottingham Ningbo China; Yangyang Jiang, The University of Nottingham Ningbo China; Gurbir Singh, Indian Institute of Management Indore; Subhash Jha, College of Business in Purdue University Northwest


Customer incivility; Organizational culture; Forgiveness


This study examines how organizational culture moderates the effect of customer incivility on frontline employee (FLE) response. We propose that forgiveness determines their customer-oriented behavior following customer incivility; vengeance mediates the effect of customer incivility on dysfunctional behavior. We further posit that the effects of customer incivility on FLE forgiveness and vengeance would vary depending on the organizational culture (i.e., clan, adhocracy, market, and hierarchy). We test the research hypotheses by conducting a survey, followed by a scenario-based experiment. Our findings show that forgiveness of customer incivility determines FLEs’ customer-oriented behavior; whereas vengeance influences FLEs’ dysfunctional behavior following customer incivility. Furthermore, clan culture and adhocracy culture positively moderate the effect of customer incivility on forgiveness, while market culture positively moderates the effect of customer incivility on vengeance.