Justly so? Employee justice perceptions of legitimate and opportunistic complaints

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Virginia Tech


Unjust customer complaints are increasing, liberal redress policies are becoming more commonplace, and front line employees are expected to smile and just deal with fictitious complaints with redress and a sincere smile.  Is this justly so? This research helps to fill the current gaps in complaint, justice, and emotional labor research by empirically examining employee perceptions of perceived opportunistic versus perceived legitimate complaints.       This research completed one hotel and one restaurant study using  a 2 x 2 between-subjects experimental design to examine complaint type (opportunistic/ legitimate) and perceived organizational support (high/low).   Data was collected from a large reputable market research firm. Results find that employees from both studies experience statistically significantly lower perceptions of procedural, interactional, and distributive justice when dealing with opportunistic as opposed to legitimate complaints.  Perceptions of distributive justice statistically significantly increased employee's emotive effort and emotional dissonance.  Additionally, for all of the relationships in the hotel study and with distributive justice in the restaurant study, perceived organizational support had no significant effect on employee perceptions of justice or emotional dissonance or effort.   Managerial implications of employee justice perceptions and customer complaint policies are discussed.



opportunistic customer complaining, justice, emotional labor, perceived organizational support