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Employee beliefs regarding the impact of unconventional appearance on customers in Mexico and Turkey

Katherine Karl (Department of Management, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, Tennessee, United States)
Joy Van Eck Peluchette (Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Missouri United States)
Leda McIntyre Hall (Department of Health Policy and Management, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, United States)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 8 February 2016

Abstract

Purpose

The increasing prevalence of unconventional appearance attributes (e.g. tattoos, piercings, unnatural hair color, alternative clothing) is a concern among employers as these appearance attributes are often viewed negatively. Because much of the existing employee appearance research has been conducted in the USA, the purpose of this paper is to examine employee beliefs regarding the impact of unconventional employee appearance on customer perceptions of service quality in Mexico and Turkey. The authors also examine the impact of gender, age, and position level.

Design/methodology/approach

The sample consisted of 295 white collar employees in various service industries in Turkey and Mexico. Respondents reported how they thought eight employee appearance factors (tattoos, facial piercings, unconventional hair color, unconventional hair styles, sweat pants, clothing with rips or tears, clothing that bears midriffs, belly-buttons, or cleavage, and uniforms) would affect customer perceptions of service quality.

Findings

Employees in both Mexico and Turkey indicated that uniforms would have a positive impact on customer perceptions of service quality and all seven unconventional employee appearance attributes would have a negative impact. Significant differences for country, gender, age, and position level were also found.

Research limitations/implications

Future research including a more diverse group of countries and cultures is needed. Future research should also attempt to control for differences in type of organization, organizational culture, and job type.

Practical implications

Alternative fashion and appearance styles may be trendy but there are risks in how these might be perceived by customers and by colleagues at work.

Originality/value

This study examines employee beliefs regarding the impact of a variety of unconventional employee appearance attributes on customers’ perceptions of service quality in Mexico and Turkey.

Keywords

Citation

Karl, K., Peluchette, J.V.E. and Hall, L.M. (2016), "Employee beliefs regarding the impact of unconventional appearance on customers in Mexico and Turkey", Employee Relations, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 163-181. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-05-2015-0083

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited