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An empirical examination of the services triangle

Sidney Anderson (Department of Marketing, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
Jeffery Smith (Department of Supply Chain Management and Analytics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 8 May 2017




The “services triangle” is a dynamic model in which three interlinked entities (customer, employee and firm) combine to create three dyads [employee-firm (EF), customer-firm (CF) and customer-employee (CE)] that work together to deliver services. This study aims to determine whether significant differences exist vis-à-vis the impact of EF, CF and CE dyads on the service experience.


Empirical evidence from data garnered from 398 surveys was used to test a conceptual model. To test the hypotheses, like-signed first-order dyads were constructed and combined to create second-order dyads, and analysis of variance and post-hoc tests (least significant differences) were used to investigate whether differences among the second-order dyads exist.


The analysis reveals the differential impact of the three services triangle dyads on the service experience. Specifically, customers’ perception of EF fit appears to have the greatest impact on customers’ evaluation of the service experience, followed by CF and CE fit.

Research limitations/implications

The main implication is that this paper extends conceptual research by providing empirical evidence that the EF dyad is the foundation of the services triangle. The limitations are based primarily on methodology, where the use of a survey to collect data rules out the potential generalizations of true cause and effect while also potentially being subject to common method bias.

Practical implications

Managers should realize that fit within some dyads is more instrumental in determining the service experience than fit within others. A number of managerial implications are proposed and discussed.


Prior research has neither empirically examined the services triangle nor whether significant differences exists among the impact of its dyads on the service experience. Insights from various literatures, the application of the balance theory and the construction of first- and second-order dyads enables an investigation of the various relational patterns contained in the services triangle.



Anderson, S. and Smith, J. (2017), "An empirical examination of the services triangle", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 31 No. 3, pp. 236-246.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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