How and when does customer orientation influence frontline employee job outcomes? A meta-analytic evaluation

Alex R. Zablah, George R. Franke, Tom J. Brown, Darrell E. Bartholomew

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


Previous research has conceptualized and modeled customer orientation (CO) in one of two ways: as a psychological phenomenon antecedent to critical job states (i.e., stress and engagement) or as frontline employee behaviors that are caused by these same job states. Building on meta-analytic data, this study finds greater support for the causal relationships implied by a psychological construal of the construct and reveals that CO influences frontline employees' job outcomes through its effects on stress and engagement. Moderation analyses also indicate that CO's influence on model variables is stronger when frontline employees' customer workloads increase and is weaker as the need for customer persuasion increases. These findings contradict widely held assumptions rooted in a behavioral view of CO-namely, that CO is a consequence of job states, a proximate determinant of job outcomes, and most beneficial when ample opportunity for customer engagement exists. Overall, the results support a broadened perspective that recognizes that CO improves job outcomes because it enhances frontline employees' psychological welfare in addition to being good for business. These findings suggest that managers should consider CO an important criterion in frontline employee decisions, recognize CO as beneficial when limited opportunity for customer engagement exists, and avoid efforts to curtail CO's costs at the frontline employee level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'How and when does customer orientation influence frontline employee job outcomes? A meta-analytic evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this