Discretion and the service employee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Services marketing managers have begun to recognize that services can be enhanced by allowing employees to exercise discretion during service delivery. A conceptual framework is presented which considers the discretion of employees and its antecedents. Two groups of antecedents are included: organizational factors and employee-related factors. The framework introduces a set of variables to the services marketing literature which take into account some of the unique aspects of service delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-126
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Retailing
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The issue of managerial control is one of the major challenges faced by service marketing managers (Bowen and Schneider 1988). Managerial control proves challenging for service managers because the resources contributed by employees during the service encounter are intangible and cannot be controlled in the same fashion as tangible resources (Zeithaml, Berry, and Parasuraman 1988). Customer participation in the service delivery process also inhibits managerial control, as participation is a source of uncertainty faced by managers during service delivery (Argote 1982; Larsson and Bowen 1989). The difficulty in implementing managerial controls for many service jobs often makes it necessary to empower the employee when designing service tasks. Empowerment involves the "process of enhancing feelings of self-efficacy among organizational members" in order to enable them to accomplish assigned tasks (Conger and Kanungo 1988). When employees are empowered they have greater opportunities to exercise discretion dur- ing service provision. Recently, service managers have begun to realize This research was supported by a Summer Research Grant from the College of Business and Economicso f the Universityo f Kentucky.T he grant was made possible by a donationo f funds to the College by Ashland Oil, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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