Construction and Validation of the Customer Participation Scaleby S. C. Chen, C. Raab

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DOI: 10.1177/1096348014525631 published online 13 March 2014Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research

Sandy C. Chen and Carola Raab

Construction and Validation of the Customer Participation Scale

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DOI: 10.1177/1096348014525631 © 2014 International Council on Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Education 1

ConstruCtion and Validation of the Customer PartiCiPation sCale sandy C. Chen

Oregon State University–Cascades Campus

Carola raab

University of Nevada-Las Vegas

Although the importance of a mandatory customer participation construct in service delivery has been much discussed in the literature, little research has been devoted to conceptualizing and measuring one. To fill this void, this study followed a seven-step process for creating and analyzing scales in order to develop a customer participation scale and evaluate its generalizability, reliability, and validity. In theoretical terms, this scale extends the service quality literature, which has heavily emphasized the service provider’s responsibility for service quality, and will facilitate further studies in customer participation. In practical terms, the scale provides practitioners with useful mechanisms that could enhance their interactions with customers through facilitating the latter’s mandatory role in service delivery.

Keywords: mandatory customer participation; customer roles; service quality; scale development; customer loyalty introduCtion

Customer participation is not a new concept in the service quality literature.

In fact, the number of studies addressing its importance has increased in the past decade (e.g., Bowen & Ford, 2004; Dong & Sui, 2013; Ford & Heaton, 2001;

Namsivayam, 2003). These studies have advocated that service managers treat customers as active participants or service coproducers rather than as passive recipients or buyers. They have also offered specific managing techniques, such as treating customers like quasi-employees (Bowen & Ford, 2004) and letting them have a sense of control or fairness in service delivery (Namsivayam, 2003).

These thoughts are in line with the service quality literature on recognizing the difference between a service and a goods product. As the service marketing literature has revealed, a key characteristic of a service product is service 525631 JHTXXX10.1177/1096348014525631Journal of Hospitality & Tourism ResearchChen, raab / Customer Participation scale research-article2014

Authors’ Note: The authors would like to thank the Caesars’ Foundation for partially funding this research. at Abant Izzet Baysal University on April 28, 2014jht.sagepub.comDownloaded from 2 JOURNAL OF HOSPITALITY & TOURISM RESEARCH inseparability, defined as the need for both the service provider and the customer to participate in service production so that the service can be successfully created, purchased, and consumed; in other words, service quality is influenced by inputs from both parties.

Thus, the consensus in the service marketing literature is that managing service production is a core component in managing service quality. This is further explained by a classification framework of properties of offerings (Zeithaml,

Bitner, & Gremler, 2006), which posits that service offerings such as vacations, hotel rooms, and restaurant meals are high in experience qualities (e.g., comfort, excitement, taste, etc.) because their attributes cannot be fully known or evaluated by consumers until they have been purchased and are being experienced and consumed. Consequently, the management of service quality during service production becomes a difficult task that distinguishes successful service companies (e.g., Ritz-Carlton, Disney) from those that fail.

To date, despite this considerable importance of service production in service quality management and an increasing interest in the concept of customer participation in the literature, empirical research has focused largely on the role of the service provider. Meanwhile, research on critical issues such as defining, conceptualizing, measuring, and determining the customer’s mandatory participatory role in service production remains scarce, and a reliable and valid customer participation scale has yet to be developed. The purpose of this study, therefore, is first to explore the nature of customer participation and second to develop and test a customer participation scale by collecting empirical data. In theoretical terms, this scale fills a void in the service quality literature and will facilitate further studies in customer participation. In practical terms, the scale provides practitioners with systematic and useful mechanisms that could enhance their interactions with customers so as to effectively create high-quality service.

In the following text, the researchers first examine definitions of customer participation, explores its dimensionality and measurement as a construct, and proposes a model of participation. The researchers then report a series of steps in developing a measure of customer participation and assessing the new measure’s reliability and validity. literature reView