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The Impact of Customer Contact on Collective Human Energy in Firms

2019-07-02 , Kipfelsberger, Petra , Bruch, Heike , Herhausen, Dennis

This paper investigates how and when a firm’s level of customer contact influences the collective organizational energy. For this purpose, we bridge the literature on collective human energy at work with the job impact framework and organizational sensemaking processes and argue that a firm’s level of customer contact is positively linked to the collective organizational energy because a high level of customer contact might make the experience of prosocial impact across the firm more likely. However, as prior research at the individual level has indicated that customers could also deplete employees’ energy, we introduce transformational leadership climate as a novel contingency factor for this linkage at the organizational level. We propose that a medium to high transformational leadership climate is necessary to derive positive meaning from customer contact, while firms with a low transformational leadership climate do not get energized by customer contact. We tested the proposed moderated mediation model with multilevel modeling and a multi-source dataset comprising 9,094 employees and 75 key informants in 75 firms. The results support our hypotheses and offer important theoretical contributions for research on collective human energy in organizations and its interplay with customers.