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Transforming the role of frontline service employees for cross-selling

HsiuJu Rebecca Yen (Institute of Service Science, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan)
Paul Jen-Hwa Hu (Department of Operations and Information Systems, David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA)
Yi-Chun Liao (Department of Technology Management, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 28 December 2020

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021




This study aims to examine how a manager’s learning goal orientation (LGO) influences frontline service employees’ (FSEs’) engagement in cross-selling activities. Such engagements must exist before they can achieve service–sales ambidexterity. Drawing on achievement goal theory and the meaning-making perspective, this study predicts that learning-oriented managers encourage and foster FSEs’ cross-selling behaviors by facilitating their ability to derive positive meaning from the cross-selling initiative. They do so by conveying high-quality information about the initiative and related changes to individual employees, as well as by encouraging the formation of a collective perception of open communications within the work unit.


Hierarchical (nested) data from 39 managers and 357 FSEs of a major logistic service company are used to test the hypotheses.


As predicted, a manager’s LGO relates positively to FSEs’ cross-selling activities, through sequential mediations of the hypothesized communication mechanisms and employees’ benefits-finding.


A manager’s LGO is an important antecedent of FSEs’ cross-selling behaviors. This study establishes this influence and clarifies the processes by which it occurs. This study also extends previous research by specifying the important role of employees’ meaning-making, which prompts them to adopt cross-selling, as a mediator of the multilevel communication influences that result from their managers’ LGO.



This research is supported by Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan (Grant Nnumbes 102-2410-H-007-050-MY3 and 105-2410-H-007-033-MY3).


Yen, H.R., Hu, P.J.-H. and Liao, Y.-C. (2021), "Transforming the role of frontline service employees for cross-selling", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 428-441.



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