An Exploratory Model of the Relationships between Empowerment, Job Involvement, Job Satisfaction, Organizational Commitment, and Customer Orientation in the Hospitality Industry
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The concept of customer orientation is becoming increasingly more important to managers, especially in service industries. Given the premise of the study that a customer-oriented employee has a critical role in enhancing service quality, little research has investigated the antecedents of the customer orientation construct. The objective of this study was to develop a theoretical model of customer orientation, and to test the hypothesized relationships between customer orientation and its antecedents of empowerment, job involvement, job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. To measure these hypothesized relationships at the individual level of analysis, 217 employee responses from a multi-unit chain restaurant were analyzed. The model was evaluated using structural equation modeling (SEM) utilizing SAS CALIS (SAS system 1989). Evaluation was conducted using a two-stage procedure, in which the construct measurements (a measurement model) were evaluated first, and then the structural relationships (a structural model) between the constructs were evaluated. Results indicated that empowerment and job satisfaction were found to have positive, direct effects on customer orientation, whereas job involvement had a negative, direct effect on customer orientation. Job satisfaction was found to be a positive antecedent of organizational commitment. Employee empowerment was found to positively influence job satisfaction. Moreover, the path from empowerment to organizational commitment, which was not hypothesized in the initial model, was found to be positively significant. However, the direct relationship between job involvement and organizational commitment, as hypothesized in this study, was not supported. The findings contribute to a better understanding of customer orientation by identifying antecedents of customer orientation among employees in the hospitality industry. The managerial implications of these research findings were discussed. The limitations of the study were explored, and suggestions were given for future research.