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The impact of service climate on gratitude in driving customer outcomes

Ji Miracle Qi (Department of Marketing, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA)
Yi Peng (Department of Economics, Finance and Marketing, Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville, Tennessee, USA)
Graham H. Lowman (Department of Management, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA)
Xingliang He (Department of Kinesiology, Shenyang Sport University, Shenyang, China)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 27 December 2022




Employee gratitude is often associated with positive customer-related benefits. However, our understanding of employee gratitude is notably underdeveloped within the service literature. To address this issue, this study aims to position employee gratitude within the service profit chain (SPC) framework as a complementary mediator. Further, the authors empirically examine service climate as a central antecedent to employee gratitude and employee customer-oriented behavior as an outcome that triggers an internal and external reciprocal social exchange.


The examination of the research questions was done across two studies, using employee self-reported data (Study 1) and employee–customer dyadic data (Study 2). In Study 1, the authors investigate how employee gratitude mediates the relationship between service climate and customer-oriented behavior, with employee interpersonal influence functioning as a moderator. In Study 2, the authors examine how customer-oriented behavior, an outcome of Study 1, influences customer satisfaction and customer avoidance, with customer gratitude functioning as a mediator.


Results from both Study 1 and Study 2 support the proposed relationships. These studies contribute to the service literature by evaluating how and why employee gratitude functions as a significant factor in determining employee and customer behavior within the service context.


This work enriches the gratitude literature by empirically testing a novel theoretical perspective on employee and customer gratitude in service encounters. In doing so, the authors provide a more nuanced understanding of how internal and external processes are connected and potentially reinforced in SPC.



Qi, J.M., Peng, Y., Lowman, G.H. and He, X. (2022), "The impact of service climate on gratitude in driving customer outcomes", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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