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Exploring regulatory fit between service relationships and appeals in co-production

Shihao Li (Business School, University of International Business and Economics, Beijing, China)
Yanghong Hu (Business School, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, UK)
Lan Xu (Economics and Management School, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China)
Guoqun Fu (Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, Beijing, China)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 21 January 2021

Issue publication date: 20 July 2021




This paper aims to explore how different service relationships (mentoring relationship versus partnering relationship) in service co-production affect service outcomes. Specifically, it aims to explore whether the effects of service relationships on customers’ intention to purchase the service are contingent upon service appeals’ regulatory focus (promotion versus prevention focus) and when the regulatory fit effects exist.


Three experimental studies were conducted to test hypotheses. ANOVA and bootstrapping were used to analyze the data.


The findings of the three experiments provide convergent evidence for the hypotheses. Specifically, when customers view service employees as mentors (versus partners) in service co-production, promotion-focused (versus prevention focused) service appeals effectively enhance customers’ intention to purchase the service because customers experience a regulatory fit. Moreover, the regulatory fit effects are strengthened or attenuated according to customers’ subjective social status.

Practical implications

Service firms should adopt promotion-focused (versus prevention-focused) service appeals if employees and customers are having mentoring (versus partnering) relationships, especially when customers have higher (lower) social status.


To better manage service co-production, this paper investigates beneficial outcomes of mentoring and partnering relationships from a regulatory fit perspective. It highlights the importance of compatibility between service relationship and service appeals’ regulatory focus and demonstrates a novel regulatory fit effect. It also uncovers engagement as the underlying mechanism for the regulatory-fit effect and identifies social class as a boundary condition.



This work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China [grant numbers 72072135; 71872140; 71772141; 71632001] and “the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities” in UIBE [grant number 20QD16].


Li, S., Hu, Y., Xu, L. and Fu, G. (2021), "Exploring regulatory fit between service relationships and appeals in co-production", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 505-515.



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