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Robotic involvement in the service encounter: a value-centric experience framework and empirical validation

Laurie Wu (Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Alei Fan (Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Yang Yang (Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Zeya He (University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 9 June 2021



Taking a mixed-method approach, this research developed and validated a novel, value-centric experience framework delineating robotic involvement in the service encounter and its subsequent impact on customers' experiences.


Focused on robotic restaurant businesses where robots are mainly involved in food production processes, this research utilized online customer review data and a multistage, mixed-method design for empirical examination. Automated thematic analysis was first adopted to facilitate a comprehensive understanding of the empirical reality as reflected in online customer reviews. Following an analytic induction process, a theoretical framework was developed integrating prior literature with the empirical reality to uncover the relationships across robotic involvement, experiential values and evaluative outcomes. A theory-driven, dictionary-based content analysis together with path analysis further enabled empirical validation of the developed theoretical framework.


The current research developed and validated a value-centric experience framework to theorize robotic involvement in the service encounter and its downstream impact on customers' experiences. Specifically, this framework conceptualizes robotic involvement as a five-dimensional composition of robotic visibility, competency, performanism, co-creativity and prominence. In addition, the framework specifies seven dimensions of experiential values revolving around high-tech–high-touch robotic service encounters, namely sensorial, utilitarian, hedonic, social, agentic, epistemic and aesthetic values. Following empirical validation, this framework sheds light on robotic involvement and experience design for high-tech–high-touch service businesses aiming to incorporate robots in their service encounters.


Drawing on classic service role theory and consumption value theory, this research developed and validated a novel theoretical model connecting robotic involvement dimensions with experiential consumption values and downstream customer evaluative outcomes. This research and theoretical framework open an exciting avenue for future research in robotic services and customer experiences.



Wu, L., Fan, A., Yang, Y. and He, Z. (2021), "Robotic involvement in the service encounter: a value-centric experience framework and empirical validation", Journal of Service Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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