By-The-Book Decision-Making: How Service Employee Desire For Decision Latitude Influences Customer Selection Decisions

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Journal of Service Research





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To reduce adverse customer selection, service firms are empowering employees to use decision latitude to decide whether to provide a service to a potential customer. Customer selection often requires complex decision making that involves both quantitative and qualitative customer information. The authors introduce service employees’ desire for decision latitude (DDL) as an individual difference construct that influences the processing of quantitative and qualitative information in customer selection decisions. Across several studies, the authors find that individual differences in DDL moderate how service personnel synthesize quantitative and qualitative information in customer selection decisions. Service employees who have relatively higher levels of DDL integrate quantitative and qualitative information such that the cues combine interactively. Thus, they may act as though they are going against organizational norms by allowing qualitative information to override organizational decision-making norms. Conversely, low DDL individuals appear to combine both quantitative and qualitative information in a linear pattern to influence customer selection. These results suggest that managers should employ DDL to match employees with customers so that an optimal fit occurs. Managers should examine procedures for how information should be used and provide employees with clearly defined guidelines for how to employ quantitative and qualitative information when making customer selection decisions.


DOI: 10.1177/1094670510361519

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