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Customer online reviews and hospitality employees’ helping behavior: moderating roles of self-efficacy and moral identity

YooHee Hwang (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Xingyu Wang (School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
Aysin Pașamehmetoġlu (Hotel Management Program, Ozyegin University, Istanbul, Turkey)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 10 March 2021

Issue publication date: 6 July 2021

1650

Abstract

Purpose

Online reviews are perceived as credible and trustworthy across various business sectors; thus, they influence customers’ purchase decisions. However, the potential role of customer online reviews as feedback for employee performance and employee reactions to customer reviews remain largely unclear. To address this knowledge gap, this study proposes that employee characteristics, namely, self-efficacy (Study 1) and moral identity (Study 2), moderate the effect of the valence of customer reviews on hospitality employees’ helping behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors used a scenario-based, quasi-experimental design in two studies. They recruited a total of 215 frontline employees at independent casual dining restaurants in Istanbul, Turkey (Study 1) and 226 US residents who have worked in the restaurant industry for more than six months (Study 2). Multiple linear regressions via PROCESS and moderation analysis via Johnson–Neyman technique were used.

Findings

Study 1 demonstrates that when employees’ self-efficacy is low, positive (vs negative) customer reviews enhance employees’ helping behavior. By contrast, when employees’ self-efficacy is high, their helping behavior is invariantly high regardless of the valence of customer reviews. Study 2 reveals that when employees’ moral identity is low, their helping behavior decreases in the presence of negative (vs positive) customer reviews. Conversely, when employees’ moral identity is high, their helping behavior is similarly high regardless of the valence of customer reviews.

Practical implications

Hospitality managers may need to develop training programs to enhance their employees’ self-efficacy and moral identity. They may also provide necessary organizational support to induce their employees’ self-efficacy and moral identity, given that such psychological resources help buffer the dampening effect of negative reviews on helping behavior. Last, hospitality managers may consider incorporating customer reviews as part of employee performance feedback.

Originality/value

This study advances the understanding of employees’ responses to customer reviews, with the performance appraisal feedback framework as fresh theoretical lens. This study is among the first to demonstrate the relationship between the valence of customer reviews and subsequent helping behavior of employees toward customers. It also contributes to the emerging literature that identifies boundary conditions for employees’ responses to customer reviews.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Grant#: 1-BE33)

Citation

Hwang, Y., Wang, X. and Pașamehmetoġlu, A. (2021), "Customer online reviews and hospitality employees’ helping behavior: moderating roles of self-efficacy and moral identity", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 33 No. 5, pp. 1461-1481. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-01-2021-0056

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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