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How are career adaptable and customer oriented employees treated? Examining career-situated factors that reduce customer mistreatment
Journal of Vocational Behavior  (IF12.082),  Pub Date : 2022-05-22, DOI: 10.1016/j.jvb.2022.103740
Rajiv K. Amarnani, Emika C. Howard, Simon Lloyd D. Restubog, March L. To

Many service workers receive customer mistreatment—low-quality interpersonal treatment from customers—yet little is known about why employees differ in how much customer mistreatment they receive. Drawing upon career construction theory, we cast a spotlight on the service career-situated strengths and attributes that confer upon service workers both the ability and motivation to successfully fulfill service norms and avoid interpersonal mistreatment. Specifically, we focus on customer orientation and career adaptability as career-situated motivations and abilities, respectively, that explain which employees receive more customer mistreatment. The proposed model was tested and expanded programmatically in a series of three studies using dyadic and daily diary field studies. The results across all three studies show that employees who possessed high levels of career adaptability in tandem with high levels of customer orientation were less likely to experience customer mistreatment. These results held even after controlling for Big Five personality factors in Studies 2 and 3. We discuss theoretical implications for the antecedents of workplace mistreatment, the mixed blessing of customer orientation for service workers, and the role of career processes in workplace aggression.