A customer-oriented framework for empowering service employees

Mohammed Rafiq, Pervaiz K. Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


While a great deal has been written on the subject of empowerment of employees in the manufacturing industries, its application in the services area is relatively under-developed. In fact, the special nature of services, and in particular the simultaneity of production and consumption is one of the major reasons for arguing that contact employees should be allowed a degree of discretion when dealing with customers. However, some authors have argued that service employees should have little or no discretion. This suggests that the approach to participation is a contingent one. That is, empowerment is not suitable for all occasions or all types of employees. Outlines a contingency framework for the empowerment of contact service employees. Argues that the appropriate levels and the types of empowerment given to employees depends on a combination of the complexity or variability of customer needs, and the degree of task complexity or variability involved in delivering the customer needs. It is also argued that, in any empowerment framework it is essential that the degree and the type of empowerment is also included.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-396
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Contingency theory
  • Customer orientation
  • Employee involvement
  • Empowerment
  • Management styles
  • Services marketing

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