Speaker: Assoc Prof Xiaowen Hu, QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology
Title: Emotional and behavioural responses to observed customer mistreatment
Date: Thu, 6th Apr 2023
Time: 12pm – 2pm
Venue: Allan Barton Forum, Level 2, CBE Building 26C
Dr Anna Hartman is the host of this visit
Scholars have extensively studied the adverse effects of customer mistreatment on employees who are directly targeted. However, the vicarious workplace mistreatment literature indicates that employees who witness such mistreatment can also be impacted. Particularly, the deontic justice model suggests that witnessing mistreatment can trigger moral anger towards the perpetrator and empathy towards the victim, resulting in punitive actions against the perpetrator and helping behavior towards the victim. We argue that mistreatment by customers, as opposed to other organizational members, can elicit emotional and behavioral responses that are not fully explained by this model. Our research is set out to test this idea. Participants are full-time employees with customer-facing roles. In Study 1, we collected lived examples of observed customer mistreatment. Our analysis supported the deontic justice model while also revealing emotional and behavioral responses and boundary conditions that suggest a new way of thinking about such events. In Study 2, we validated these new findings using a quasi-experiment. Finally, in Study 3, we examined how managers could mitigate the negative consequences of observed customer mistreatment.
Xiaowen Hu is an Associate Professor in Human Resource Management at the School of Management, Queensland University of Technology. She received her PhD in Management from University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on empowering organizations in creating safe and healthy workplaces in today's turbulent and complex business environment. She has published 29 journal articles in high-quality journals outlets, including OBHR journals such as the Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Her research has received over $1 million in external funding and has influenced occupational health and safety practices across multiple industries in Australia and internationally.