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How does dysfunctional customer behavior affect employee turnover

Taeshik Gong (College of Business and Economics, Hanyang University ERICA, Ansan, The Republic of Korea)
Chen-Ya Wang (Institute of Service Science, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 17 September 2019

Issue publication date: 20 September 2019




Dysfunctional customer behavior is believed to engender employee stress and, in turn, fuel employee turnover. However, little research has examined the moderating role of individual-level and contextual-level resource variables. The purpose of this paper is to fill these gaps by examining employee embeddedness and individualism–collectivism as putative moderators of the hypothesized mediation chain.


The authors conducted a field study involving 264 service employees working in two hotels operated by the same international hotel chain, one in South Korea (n=138) and the other in the UK (n=126).


Results show that employee embeddedness weakens the impact of dysfunctional customer behavior on employee turnover via employee stress. In addition, findings suggest that collectivists (individualists) are more (less) likely to be receptive to embeddedness cues.


This is the first known study to show that employee embeddedness can mitigate the impact of dysfunctional customer behavior on turnover via employee stress. This moderated-mediation model is further moderated by employees’ cultural value orientation (individualism–collectivism). Prior literature is not explicit on these complex models.



This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A5A8019512).


Gong, T. and Wang, C.-Y. (2019), "How does dysfunctional customer behavior affect employee turnover", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 329-352.



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