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Effect of frontline employee's hope and consumer failure during consumer-created emergencies

Kumar Rakesh Ranjan (Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Rupanwita Dash (Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Lucknow, India)
Praveen Sugathan (Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, Kozhikode, India)
Wen Mao (Business School, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 11 November 2020

Issue publication date: 2 January 2021




In important interpersonal service interactions with a frontline employee (FLE), consumers at times fail to carry out their share of responsibility in the execution of the service, resulting in a situation of “consumer created emergency”. This might defeat the consumer's goal of availing the service (termed as consumer failure). This study explains the role of employee's hope in managing consumer failure in the situation of consumer created emergencies.


Hypotheses were tested in three experiments that simulated service emergency across a general printing service situation and a travel service situation.


The study shows that: (1) FLE hope has a positive effect on consumer satisfaction, and is mediated by the consumer's assumed effort by the FLE; (2) the effect of FLE hope on consumer satisfaction changes with changing levels of consumer hopefulness about the service outcome; (3) despite situation of consumer created emergency, consumer failure results in low consumer satisfaction due to attribution error and (4) external attribution by the FLE could not significantly rectify consumer's attribution error and hence could not alleviate consumer dissatisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

The study suggests relevance and pathways of managing emotions and attributions of consumers and FLEs for superior performance outcomes.


The study theorizes and tests the role of hope, which is an important positive emotion during emergencies because frontline service settings have heretofore predominantly focused on managing negative traits and outcomes.



Ranjan, K.R., Dash, R., Sugathan, P. and Mao, W. (2021), "Effect of frontline employee's hope and consumer failure during consumer-created emergencies", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 35-64.



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