You are on page 1of 14



Increasing Job Satisfaction

of Service Personnel
Jerry D. Rogers, Kenneth E. Clow and Toby J. Kash
1990; Bitner et al., 1990). By understanding
and responding to the needs and concerns of
customers, customer contact personnel can
enhance the level of satisfaction customers will
experience with a firm (Zeithaml et al., 1988).
Greater customer satisfaction will in turn lead
to repeat purchases and positive word-of-mouth
communications (Bitner, 1990). Such actions
on the part of consumers should result in
greater market share and higher profits for the
service firm.
Due to the potential impact that employees
have on the business, it is imperative that
management understand the specific
dimensions that help shape employees
attitudes toward their jobs. Over the past
several years, considerable attention has been
given to role conflict, role clarity, job tension
and job satisfaction as four very important
determinants of the performance of
individuals and their impact on the
operational effectiveness of the organization
(Kelly et al., 1981; Lusch and Serpkenci,
1990). Subsumed within these four concepts
is the necessity for effective communications
among managers, employees and customers
(Zeithaml et al., 1988). Without effective
communications, employee job satisfaction
suffers as well as the quality of the service
encounters between the firms employees and
the firms customers (Schneider and Bowen,
1985). This lack of effective communications
will potentially lead to a decrease in role
clarity, an increase in job tension and a
decrease in job satisfaction.

Management in the 1960s and 1970s was
concerned with efficiency in the use of
organizational resources. To combat the
competitive environment of business, the
buzzwords for managers were doing the job
right. In this sense, efforts were geared
toward optimization, cost reduction,
work measurement and quality control.
Within this context, employees were treated
as numbers rather than persons. The stiff
global competition of the 1980s led to the
realization that new strategies were needed to
compete effectively in the global arena. In
response to this realization, many wellmanaged organizations of the 1990s have
become more concerned about doing the
right job, thus the buzzwords have changed
to customer satisfaction and employee
contentment and loyalty. Even some new
management concepts such as TQM have
emphasized the behavioral aspects of the firm
as an important element for increased
productivity and satisfaction.
As America has become a service-oriented
economy changing its 16.5 million service jobs
of the 1960s to 85.1 million in the 1990s
(Business Week, 2 November 1992) employees
are more frequently in contact with customers
of the business. Consequently, they become an
integral part of the image that a customer has of
the business and play a pivotal role in
determining the success of the firm (Bitner,
Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 8 No. 1, 1994, pp. 14-26
MCB University Press, 0887-6045



Role clarity has been defined as the degree

to which individuals receive and understand
information needed for them to perform their
jobs. Clear job roles minimize conflicts among
employees, between employees and
management, and between employees and
customers. Frustration, anger, and unhappiness
with the job occurs when employees are
unclear as to their roles in an organization.
The extent to which employees are
bothered by work-related matters is referred
to as job tension. Studies have related job
tension to various serious dysfunctional
consequences, including withdrawal,
rationalization, and alcoholism (Hise, 1968),
high blood pressure, ulcers, etc. (Kimes,
1977), and lower job satisfaction.
Job satisfaction refers to the individuals
attitude toward the various aspects of their
job as well as the job in general. High role
conflict and low role clarity contribute to low
job satisfaction, which can, in turn, lead to
increased absenteeism and turnover (Lawler
and Porter, 1967). In addition, low job
satisfaction has the potential of causing low
quality service encounter performances on the
part of the employee (Bitner et al., 1990).
This inferior performance will lead to
customer dissatisfaction, firm switching and
negative word-of-mouth communication on
the part of the customers about the employee
and the firm (Bitner, 1990).

Within the retail service setting of customer

care, the basis for this effective communication
is, in the broadest sense, empathy (Berry et al.,
1990; Parasuraman et al., 1988; Redmond,
1989). It allows individuals to understand
others and to predict how others might respond
in special situations. Understanding and
prediction make empathy a potential tool for
developing effective communications and
relationships among employees, between
employees and management, and between
employees and customers.
Given the seemingly apparent need for
empathetic relationships among employees of
a business firm, it is somewhat surprising that
the subject has received little empirical
attention among business researchers. The
purpose of this investigation is to examine the
effect of empathy within the traditional
framework of role clarity, job tension, role
conflict, and job satisfaction.

Job Satisfaction Literature

Role conflict occurs when an individual is
expected to engage in inconsistent behavior
as a result of receiving contradictory demands
resulting from a lack of unity of command.
This conflict can also occur when an
individual is expected to engage in
inconsistent behavior resulting from
contradictory demands between a firms
customers and its management. Previous
research has empirically demonstrated that as
role conflict increases, role clarity and job
tension increase and job satisfaction
decreases (Churchill et al., 1974; 1976; 1985;
Kelly et al., 1981; Walker et al., 1975). In
attempts to cope with this conflict,
individuals may engage in a variety of
psychological reactions such as withdrawal
and avoiding contact or communications with
those causing the conflict. Job performance
has also been shown to suffer from role
conflict (Rizzo et al., 1970).

Empathy Literature
In the past few decades empathy has been
defined in many ways. In the services
marketing literature, empathy was found to be
one of the five dimensions customers of
service firms use in their evaluation of service
quality and was defined by Parasuraman et al.
(1988) as caring, individualized attention the
firm provides its customers.
In the psychology literature, some
researchers have defined empathy in
cognitive terms while others have defined it



as the ability to comprehend the affective or

cognitive status of another. More recently,
however, the ability to discern and identify
the affective states of another has been
labeled affective role taking, while the ability
to understand anothers cognitive status or
perspective has been called cognitive role
taking (Eisenberg and Miller, 1987). The
most frequently used definition of empathy is
that it is a persons vicarious matching of
anothers affective state or is a combination
of emotional matching and sympathetic
responding (Stiff et al., 1988). It is this latter
definition that will be used in this research.

avoiding negative consequences. However,

individuals who are highly empathetic will
display altruistic behaviors, i.e. genuine
feelings of emotional concern during the
service encounter. It is this latter form of
empathy which is the focus of this study
because in the long run, it should produce the
highest quality service encounters for the
customers of the firm and the highest level of
job satisfaction for the individual employees.

Current Study
The current study focusses on retail customer
service personnel for several reasons. First, it is
the front-line customer contact person who
usually has the first and many times the only
contact with the customer, thus to the customer,
this individual represents the service firm.
Second, because of the dynamic interaction and
the intangibility of the transaction, behavior of
customer contact personnel has a tremendous
impact on customers perceptions of service
and product quality. Third, the high rate of
turnover and absenteeism among service
personnel has resulted in a decline of
productivity. It would appear a key ingredient
in increasing job productivity and reducing
employee turnover and absenteeism would be
the hiring, training and management of
employees who enjoy dealing with customers
and who enjoy their jobs.
Past research has indicated that role clarity
should have an inverse impact on both role
conflict and job tension and a positive impact
on job satisfaction. Customer contact
personnel with clearly defined roles should
experience less role conflict than those whose
roles are not clearly defined. Clearer defined
roles (plus good training and competence)
should also decrease job tension and lead to a
higher level of job satisfaction. Customer
contact personnel will experience varying
degrees of role conflict initiated among
customers, fellow employees and
management. As the level of conflict

Strong impact on the

quality of the
service encounter
The manner in which an individual displays
emotion, i.e. feelings, within the service
encounter between an employee and a
customer has a strong impact on the quality
of the service encounter, the attractiveness of
the inter-personal climate and the emotional
experience itself (Bitner, 1990; Parasuraman
et al., 1988; Zeithaml et al., 1988). Emotions
displayed during an encounter by an
employee may be the result of surface acting,
deep acting, or genuine emotional concern for
the customer (Ashforth and Humphrey,
1993). Both surface acting and deep acting
are used by employees to display emotions to
customers commensurate with their job
description. These individuals may not feel
empathetic at all but will display such actions
because it is expected of them. Such actions
are egoistic based, i.e. they are motivated by
the employees personal ego. Rationale for
such behavior may be to please the boss, to
look good in front of the other employees, or
just to fulfill their job specifications thereby



increases, job tension should also increase.

This increase in job tension will result in a
lower level of job satisfaction. The formal
hypotheses for this are:

Questionnaires were hand-delivered to
businesses of a medium-sized midwestern
city. All selected employees were involved in
some aspect of customer service involving
frequent interaction with customers or clients.
The questionnaires were left with employees
of the organizations. To maintain complete
anonymity completed questionnaires were
returned to the managers in sealed envelopes
and picked up by research assistants.
Approximately 63 percent (193) of the 300
questionnaires distributed were usable for the
research. Sixty-six percent of the respondents
were females, 34 percent male.
Demographically the respondents mean age
was 28.9, mean educational level was 12.9
years of school, and mean weekly income
was $214.73. Seventy percent worked fulltime, 30 percent part-time, with a combined
average of 6.7 years of experience.
The survey instrument utilized index
measures developed by earlier researchers to
measure each of the job related and empathy
variables (see Appendix 1 for list of construct
measures). Empathy measures were taken by
an instrument developed by Stiff et al.
(1988). A five-point Likert scale ranging
from strongly agree to strongly disagree was
used to measure each of the six empathy
The job and role variables were measured
by using index measures which have been
developed and utilized by other researchers.
Job satisfaction was measured using an index
developed by Izvancevich and Donnelly
(1974); role conflict by Rizzo et al. (1970);
role clarity by Lyons (1971); and job tension
by Kahn et al. (1964). Responses to the job
satisfaction and role conflict items were
measured using a five-point Likert scale
ranging from strongly agree to strongly
disagree. Job tension was measured with a
five-point Likert scale using nearly all of the
time to never as anchors. The anchors for
measuring role clarity were perfectly clear
and not at all clear.

H1: Role clarity will have an inverse

impact on role conflict.
H2: Role clarity will have an inverse
impact on job tension.
H3: Role clarity will have a positive impact
on job satisfaction.
H4: Role clarity will have a positive impact
on job tension.
H5: Job tension will have an inverse impact
on job satisfaction.
H6: Empathetic concern will have a
positive impact on job satisfaction.
H7: Empathetic concern will have an
inverse impact on job tension.
H8: Empathetic concern will have an
inverse impact on role conflict.
Front-line employees of business
organizations face numerous conflicting
situations daily between customers of the
firm and the firms management. It is their
responsibility not only to provide for the
needs of each customer but also to resolve
any problems encountered in such a way as to
enhance customer satisfaction (Bitner, 1990;
Bitner et al., 1990). The more empathetic
employees are toward customers, the greater
the probability that customers will have a
satisfactory experience with the firm (Bitner,
1990; Parasuraman et al., 1988; Zeithaml et
al., 1988).
In addition, employees often encounter
conflicts with other employees of the
organization and with the firms management.
These conflicts will tend to increase job
tension, resulting in lower job satisfaction.
Understanding the views and feelings of other
employees and management should have an
inverse impact on the amount of role conflict
and job tension experienced by employees with
a direct, positive impact on job satisfaction.



To test the hypotheses, LISREL 7, a

simultaneous equation procedure, was
utilized (Joreskog and Sorbom, 1983; 1989).
The first step in the analyses was a validation
of the measurement model using
confirmatory factor analysis to verify valid
measures of the variables. Results obtained
were commensurate with prior research in
both the empathy literature and the job
satisfaction literature. The second step in the
analyses was investigating the overall fit of
the structural model. Figure 1 illustrates the
model that was tested. The third step was the
analysis of the theoretical linkages to
determine if the hypotheses were supported
by the data.

model fit. The goodness-of-fit, the adjustedgoodness-of-fit, and the 2 statistic all
indicate an adequate fit between the model
and the data (see Table III for model fit
statistics). The maximum likelihood
coefficients and t-values for the structural
model are also given in Table III. The
significant paths with corresponding MLE
coefficients are illustrated in Figure 2.
Role clarity was hypothesized to have an
effect on role conflict, job tension, and job
satisfaction. This study found that employees
with high customer contact experience higher
job tension and higher role conflict if their job
roles are not clearly defined, i.e. as role clarity
decreased, job tension and role conflict
increased. There was no direct impact on job
satisfaction. Hypotheses 1 and 2 were
supported, hypothesis 3 was not. Since frontline service personnel are often caught in the
middle between management and customers,
role clarity allows them to reduce job tension
and role conflict since they know what they
can and cannot do to care for the customer and
his or her needs. However, the impact of role
clarity on job satisfaction only occurs through
a reduction of job tension and role conflict.
As expected, role conflict had a direct
impact on job tension and job tension had an
inverse impact on job satisfaction.
Hypotheses 4 and 5 were both supported.
Reducing the conflict faced by front-line
employees will reduce the job tension they
experience. Reducing job tension, in turn,
will increase job satisfaction.
In terms of empathy, only one of the three
structural paths was significant. As
empathetic concern increased, job tension
declined. The more empathetic employees are
toward customers they serve as well as fellow
employees, the less tension they experience
on the job. There were no significant effects
on either job satisfaction or role conflict
directly. In terms of hypotheses, hypothesis 7
was supported, hypotheses 6 and 8 were not.

The first step in the analysis was the
development of the measurement model.
Table I gives the maximum likelihood
coefficients and corresponding t-values of
both the x and the y matrices respectively.
Table II gives the Cronbach alpha
reliability measures for each construct. Since
results indicated valid and reliable measures
of the latent constructs proposed, analysis
proceeded to testing Figure 1 for an adequate






Figure 1.
Structural Model Tested






Role clarity
Role clarity
Role clarity
Role clarity
Role clarity
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job satisfaction
Job tension
Job tension
Job tension
Job tension
Job tension
Job tension
Job tension
Job tension
Job tension
Role conflict
Role conflict
Role conflict
Role conflict
Role conflict
Role conflict
Role conflict
Role conflict


**aFixed parameters
** Significant at p < 0.05
** Significant at p < 0.01
Table I.
Measurement Model of Exogenous Variables










This research has indicated job satisfaction

among customer contact employees is not
only affected by job tension with its
corollaries of role clarity and role conflict but
it is also affected by the amount of empathy
employees have for the customers, for their
fellow employees and toward the
management of the firm. Job satisfaction of
service employees can be increased by
enhancing role clarity, decreasing role
conflict, and reducing job tension. These
findings impact managements hiring
policies, training procedures, job descriptions,
and management procedures, especially in
terms of customer care.
Role clarity impacts both role conflict and
job tension. By increasing role clarity
employees will experience less conflict and
less tension on the job. Employees need to
have a clear understanding of their role within
the firm. What can they and what cannot they
do to satisfy a customer? Clear guidelines
need to be given. Organizations with multiple
front-line personnel need clear guidelines as
to the responsibilities of each employee and
their relationships with other employees
within the organizations. In terms of

Alpha coefficient

Role clarity
Job satisfaction
Job tension
Role conflict


Table II.
Cronbach Alpha Reliability Scores

Implications for Managers of Service

As already mentioned, the concepts of
customer satisfaction and employee
contentment are gaining prominence in the
management of the 1990s. It is very difficult
to serve customers well when employees are
unhappy and disgruntled about some aspect
of their job. Job satisfaction, therefore,
becomes an important construct for managers
of businesses since an increase in job
satisfaction among a firms front-line
employees will undoubtedly have a carry
over effect on customer care.




Job tension job satisfaction

Role conflict job tension
Empathy job satisfaction
Empathy job tension
Empathy role conflict
Role charity job satisfaction
Role clarity job tension
Role clarity role conflict


= 4.37 with 1 df
= 0.991
AGFI = 0.868
Significant at p < 0.05
Significant at p < 0.01

Table III.
Structural Model Fit Statistics




can be reduced by management and how this

in turn can lead to greater job satisfaction.
The more employees can take the viewpoint
of another, i.e. the customer, their fellow
employees, or their boss, the more the
empathy which will be felt toward them. If
the employee can put himself or herself in the
position of the customer, then the feelings of
empathy for that customer will increase. With
this increase in empathy will come a
corresponding increase in the desire to
communicate these feelings both verbally and
with appropriate body language. As
employees communicate feelings of empathy
to the customer, job tension is reduced and
job satisfaction is increased. This same
scenario will occur with increased empathy
toward fellow employees and with the
management of the firm.






* Significant at p < 0.05

** Significant at p < 0.01

Figure 2.
Structural Model with MLE Coefficients

management, employees must have a clear

chain of command that clearly delineates
what decisions should be referred to
management and what decisions employees
are allowed to make themselves.
Conflict is inherent in the position of a
front-line employee. The view of
management and customers do not always
coincide. Customers want answers and
policies that will provide for their particular
and unique needs while management sets
policies that seek to protect their business and
profit. The front-line employee is often
confronted with what appears to be
unresolvable conflicts. As the intensity and
quantity of conflicts increase, job tension will
rise. As job tension rises, job satisfaction
declines. As job satisfaction declines,
employee turnover and absenteeism will rise
and customers devaluate the quality of both
the product and service experience. Although
management cannot eliminate the conflicts
front-line personnel face, they can take
measures to reduce both the quantity and
intensity of conflicts between employees and
Diverting to the empathy construct will add
insight into how job tension and role conflict

Five important
management policy concerns
are highlighted
Five important management policy concerns
are highlighted by the findings of this
research. First, management should hire
individuals as employees who are highly
empathetic. Tests can be given indicating
which applicants to select. In hiring front-line
employees, it would appear that individuals
who are highly empathetic, by nature, would
be more willing to respond to the needs of
customers and less likely to have conflicts
with fellow employees and management.
Individuals of this type would experience less
job tension and greater job satisfaction which
should reduce absenteeism and turnover.
Second, many front-line employees receive
very little training in how to deal with
customers. Management must train
employees on how to respond to customer
needs. Although empathy may be more of an



management must trust that employees will

arrive at solutions that not only meet
customer needs but will enhance the image
and profitability of the firm. Past research has
indicated that customers who are dissatisfied
with the outcome of a service encounter can
be affected positively by post-purchase
communications with a representative of the
service firm (Bitner, 1990). In situations
where the service encounter is not
satisfactory, employees must have the power
to arrive at solutions that will negate the
negative feelings of the customers.
Employees whose job description permits
flexibility, empowerment, and freedom to
express empathy toward customers will
experience less tension on the job which, in
turn, will result in higher job satisfaction.

inherited trait rather than a learned behavior,

training could certainly be used to enhance
employee empathy. As described by Ashforth
and Humphrey (1993), trained empathy
responses will tend to be the result of surface
or deep acting. Both are egoistic based in that
the motive behind the empathetic response is
job security related rather than genuine
concern for the customer. However, such
responses on the part of employees will still
tend to increase customer service quality
evaluations and customer satisfaction.
Thus, the problem may be both hiring the
wrong individual as a customer contact
person and the lack of training on how to
communicate empathetically to customer
needs. This same training can incorporate
elements that will enhance employee/
employee relations and employee/
management relations.
Third, job descriptions need to be clearly
written and taught to front-line personnel. Job
descriptions need to indicate what actions can
and cannot be taken. Empowerment and
flexibility within the job description allows
employees to meet the needs of customers
creatively without violating policies of the
firm. Clear job descriptions also reduce
conflicts among employees and between
employees and management.
The affective component of customer/
employee relationships needs to be addressed
not only in the training sessions but also in
the job descriptions. Service with a smile
has to be more than a motto. It must become a
part of the front-line employees nature. The
desire to satisfy the customer must not only
be seen but be felt by the customer.
Empathetic employees must convey to
customers that they do care and they do want
to satisfy their needs.
Fourth, employees must be empowered by
management to do whatever it takes to satisfy
the customer. Empowerment allows
employees to be flexible and creative in
arriving at decisions. Empowerment means

There must be clear lines

of command between management
and employees
Fifth, there must be clear lines of command
between management and employees. Too
often in service organizations employees have
multiple bosses with conflicting demands.
Unity of command is essential in reducing job
tension between employees and management.
To illustrate the foregoing discussion, let us
examine two possible scenarios which could
occur for a business offering dry cleaning
services. In this illustration, we will further
assume the position which is being
considered is the front-line contact person
who deals directly with the customer. In the
first scenario, an employee is selected from a
pool of applicants with no testing for
empathy. In order to create bipolar extremes
let us also assume that if this employee had
been given a test, he or she would have
scored poorly, i.e. he or she is not, by nature,
an empathetic person. No training on how to



deal empathetically with customers is given.

There are no written job descriptions.
Management does not discuss with this
employee the affective component of
customer service assuming he or she will
somehow know what to do and how to act.
Only technical details of the job are
explained. Since the business is small not
only does the owner work at the facility but
so does his wife, son, and two other
employees. No clear line of command is
In scenario two the same business decides
to test prospective employees for empathy.
They choose one who scores high on this
factor. The business then trains this new
employee how to respond to customer needs
in an appropriate and proper manner. A job
description is written detailing their duties
with clear instructions on what decisions they
can make and what decisions must be
deferred to management. The employee is
empowered to make whatever decision is
necessary to make the customer happy.
Management will stand behind the decision.
Situations which often occur in the dry
cleaning business are discussed with possible
solutions pointed out. The affective
component of customer service is discussed,
stressing the importance of showing genuine
concern for the customer. Clear lines of
command are established.
To illustrate the bipolar reactions a
customer may cause in these two scenarios let
us suppose a customer comes in to pick up
his/her dry cleaning. On examining the item,
he/she notices a stain which was not on the
garment before. The customer immediately
becomes angry and demands the dry cleaner
pays $80 for the item since the dry cleaner
ruined the clothing.
In scenario one, the employee has no idea
of what to do and who he/she should ask.
Further, if the customer has become angry
and hostile, since the employee is not an
empathetic person by nature and has not been

trained to be empathetic toward the customer,

there is a high probability the employee will
return the customers anger with even harsher
words. The result, an unhappy customer, and
an employee who is angry and upset. As this
scenario repeats itself numerous times
through the week, the employee experiences
high role conflict and low job satisfaction.
This, in turn, will cause the employee to
provide lower and lower quality of service to
future customers.
However, in scenario two, the employee
understands why the customer is upset and
through appropriate words and body language
conveys to the customer that he/she has a
right to be upset. Rather than go to
management to try to find a solution, the
employee has the power to make a decision.
He or she will discuss the situation with the
customer, diffuse the customers anger, then
asks the customer to offer possible solutions
to the problem. The result, the customers
anger has been diffused and although he/she
may not leave happy, the customer certainly
will not be unhappy. The employee
experiences less role conflict and higher job
satisfaction. This, in turn, will lead the
employee to provide higher quality of service
to future customers.
In summary, increasing job satisfaction
among service personnel has the potential of
generating higher customer satisfaction with
the service, repeat purchases by current
customers, and positive word-of-mouth
communications to potential customers. This
research has indicated that job satisfaction of
service personnel can be increased by hiring
individuals who tend to be highly empathetic,
by training current employees how to be
empathetic, by providing employees with
clear job descriptions, by empowering
employees within the customer/employee
diad to make decisions that will result in
higher customer satisfaction with the service,
and in establishing a clear unity of command
for each employee.



Research Limitations

Service Quality, Sloan Management

Review, Summer, pp. 29-38.
Bitner, M.J. (1990), Evaluating Service
Encounters: The Effects of Physical
Surroundings and Employee Responses,
Journal of Marketing, Vol. 54, April, pp. 69-82.
Bitner, M.J., Booms, B.H. and Tetreault, M.S.
(1990), The Service Encounter: Diagnosing
Favorable and Unfavorable Incidents,
Journal of Marketing, Vol. 54, January,
pp. 71-84.
Churchill, G.A., Jr, Ford, N.M. and Walker, O.C.
(1974), Measuring Job Satisfaction of
Industrial Salesmen, Journal of Marketing
Research, Vol. 11, August, pp. 254-60.
Churchill, G.A., Jr, Ford, N.M. and Walker, O.C.
(1976), Organizational Climate and Job
Satisfaction in the Salesforce, Journal of
Marketing Research, Vol. 13, November,
pp. 323-32.
Churchill, G.A., Jr, Ford, N.M. and Walker, O.C.
(1985), The Determinants of Salesperson
Performance: A Meta-Analysis, Journal of
Marketing Research, Vol. 22, May,
pp. 103-18.
Eisenberg, N. and Miller, P.A. (1987), The
Relation of Empathy to Prosocial Behavior,
Psychological Bulletin, p. 101.
Hise, R.T. (1968), Conflict in the Salesmans
Role, University of Washington Business
Review, Vol. 27, pp. 52-62.
Ivancevich, J.M. and Donnelly, J.H. (1974), A
Study of Role Clarity and Need for Clarity for
Three Occupational Groups, Academy of
Management Journal, Vol. 17, pp. 28-36.
Joreskog, K.G. and Sorbom, D. (1983), Lisrel
VI, An Analysis of Linear Structural
Relations by the Method of Maximum
Likelihood, Version VI, National Education
Resources, Chicago, IL.
Joreskog, K.G. and Sorbom, D. (1989), Lisrel 7:
A Guide to the Program and Applications,
SPSS, Chicago, IL.
Kahn, R.L., Wolfe, D.M., Quinn, R.P., Diedrick
Snoek, J. and Rosenthal, R.A. (1964),
Organizational Stress: Studies in Role

A major limitation of the study is the generic

index measures used. Future research in
which the indexes are modified to measure
the customer/employee diad specifically may
yield some interesting results. In addition,
measuring employee/employer diad factors at
the same time may provide some indications
of the source of job tension, role conflict and
role ambiguity.
The general consensus among researchers is
that empathy is a multidimensional concept
consisting of perspective taking, emotional
contagion, empathetic concern, and
communicative responsiveness. This research
examined only empathetic concern. Future
research needs to be conducted that examines
the other dimensions of empathy to uncover
their relationship to the job satisfaction factors.
This study looked at employees of service
retailers. Would the same results be obtained
if employees of professional services were
surveyed? In addition, does the type of
supervisor or manager impact employee
satisfaction and should managers be highly
empathetic individuals? Further, what
would the relationship between customer
satisfaction, employee contentment, and
empathy look like if the firm was operating in
a monopolistic environment (for example in
cable television companies), and/or the
unemployment rate was relatively high?
Clearly, further research needs to be

Ashforth, B.E. and Humphrey, R.H. (1993),
Emotional Labor in Service Roles: The
Influence of Identity, Academy of
Management Review, Vol. 18 No. 1,
pp. 88-115.
Berry, L.L., Zeithaml, V.A. and Parasuraman,
A. (1990), Five Imperatives for Improving



Conflict and Ambiguity, John Wiley & Sons,

New York, NY.
Kelly, J.P., Gable, M. and Hise, R.T. (1981),
Conflict, Clarity, Tension and Satisfaction in
Chain Store Manager Roles, Journal of
Retailing, Vol. 57, pp. 27-42.
Kimes, J.D. (1977), Handling Stress in the
Accounting Profession, Management
Accounting, Vol. 59, pp. 17-23.
Lawler, E. and Porter, L. (1967), The Effect of
Performance on Job Satisfaction, Industrial
Relations, Vol. 7, pp. 20-8.
Lusch, R.F. and Serpkenci, R.R. (1990),
Personal Differences, Job Tension, Job
Outcomes and Store Performance: A Study
of Retail Store Managers, Journal of
Marketing, Vol. 54, January, pp. 85-101.
Lyons, T. (1971), Role Conflict, Need for
Clarity, Satisfaction, Tension and
Withdrawal, Organizational Behavior and
Human Performance, Vol. 6, pp. 99-110.
Parasuraman, A., Zeithaml, V.A. and Berry, L.L.
(1988), SERVQUAL: A Multiple-item Scale
for Measuring Consumer Perception of
Service Quality, Journal of Retailing,
Vol. 64, Spring, pp. 12-40.
Redmond, M.V. (1989), The Functions of
Empathy in Human Relations, Human
Relations, p. 42.
Rizzo, J.R., House, R.J. and Lirtzman, S.I.
(1970), Role Conflict and Ambiguity in
Complex Organizations, Administrative
Science Quarterly, Vol. 15, pp. 150-63.
Schneider, W.W. and Bowen, D.E. (1985),
Employee and Customer Perceptions of
Services in Banks: Replication and
Extension, Journal of Applied Psychology,
Vol. 70 No. 3, pp. 423-33.
Stiff, J.B., Dillard, J.P., Somera, L., Hyun, K. and
Sleight, C. (1988), Empathy,
Communication, and Prosocial Behavior,
Communication Monographs, Vol. 55,
pp. 198-213.
Walker, O.C. Jr, Churchill, G.A., Jr, and Ford,
N.M. (1975), Organizational Determinants of
the Industrial Salesmans Role Conflict and

Ambiguity, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 39,

January, pp. 32-9.
Zeithaml, V.A., Berry, L.L. and Parasuraman, A.
(1988), Communication and Control
Processes in the Delivery of Service
Quality, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 52, April,
pp. 35-48.

Appendix 1. Items Used in Constructs.

(1) When I see someone being taken advantage
of, I feel kind of protective toward them.
(2) When I see someone being treated unfairly, I
sometimes dont feel much pity for them.
(3) I often have tender, concerned feelings for
people less fortunate than me.
(4) I would describe myself as a pretty softhearted person.
(5) Other peoples misfortunes do not disturb me
a great deal.
(6) I am often touched by the things that I see
Role clarity:
(1) How clear are you about the limits of your
authority in your present job?
(2) Do you feel you are always as clear as you
would like to be about what you have to do
on your job?
(3) Do you feel you are always as clear as you
would like to be about how you are supposed
to do things on your job?
(4) In general, how clearly defined are policies
and the various rules, procedures, and
regulations of the company that affect your
(5) In general, how clearly defined are the rules,
policies, and procedures of your department
that affect your job?
Job satisfaction:
(1) My job provides me with the opportunity to
prepare myself for future advancement in the
(2) My work is not important to the success of
the organization.
(3) My job provides me with the opportunity to
grow and utilize a wide range of my skills.
(4) My job is not viewed as important by
employees working in other areas within this
(5) My job allows me to set goals and objectives.



Role conflict:
(1) I never have to violate a rule or policy in
order to carry out a work assignment.
(2) My job requires me to do things that should
be done differently.
(3) I receive work assignments without the
manpower or help to complete them.
(4) I work with two or more groups who operate
quite differently.
(5) I receive incompatible requests from two or
more people.
(6) In my job I do things that are apt to be accepted
by one person but not accepted by others.
(7) I receive assignments without adequate
resources and materials to execute them.
(8) I work on unnecessary things.

(6) My job does not provide me with a sense of

(7) My job is viewed as important by other
people outside the organization.
(8) My job is not very challenging.
(9) My job allows me to utilize the full range of
my educational training and previous work
Job tension:
(1) How often are you unclear on just what the
scope and responsibilities of your job are?
(2) How often do you know what opportunities
for advancement or promotion exist for you?
(3) How often do you feel that you have too heavy
a work load, one that you cant possibly finish
during an ordinary work shift?
(4) How often do you think that youll not be
able to satisfy the conflicting demands of
various people you work with?
(5) How often do you know what your superior
thinks of you, and how he or she evaluates
your performance?
(6) How often do you feel that you can get
information needed to carry out your job?
(7) How often do you know just what the people
you work with expect of you?
(8) How often do you think that the amount of
work you have to do may interfere with how
well it gets done?
(9) How often do you feel that you have to do
things on the job that are against your better

Jerry D. Rogers is Associate Professor of

Marketing, Kenneth E. Clow is Assistant
Professor of Marketing, and Toby J. Kash is
Kelce Research Professor of Management, all
in the Department of Management and
Marketing at the Gladys A. Kelce School of
Business, Pittsburg State University,
Pittsburg, Kansas, USA.