Effects of Human Resource Practices on Internal Influence and External Representation: An Empirical Study of Flight Attendants

Article excerpt

The present study examines relationships among the HR practices of empowerment and training), employee job satisfaction,, employee organisational commitment with internal influence and external representation), as well as the mediation role of the employee attitudes. Using data collected from 335 flight attendants, structural equation model analysis reveal positive effects of employee attitudes on both internal influence and external representation. Moreover, HR practices are found to be positively associated with job satisfaction, while job satisfaction is indicated to be the only mediator in the structural model. The results show job satisfaction and empowerment to have strong predictive power. Implications for services marketing are drawn from the results.

1. Introduction

Due to the liberalisation of the airline industry and the emergence of low-cost carriers, intense competition is the inevitable phenomenon for airlines around the world. As such, securing competitive advantages is a crucial determinant of company's survival. In the service sector, scholars suggest that firm's competitive advantages can be significantly accrued through its ability to provide superior customer service (Vargo and Lusch 2004; Meng et al. 2009). Recognition of the importance of service quality not only leads service providers to the pursuit of service excellence, but also draws scholars' attention on increasing the quality of service delivery. It is believed that one way to enhance service quality and delight customer is to have employees go beyond the normal call of duties (Ennew and Binks 1999). Thus, research attention has been placed to focus on the importance of organisational citizenship behaviours (OCBs - behaviours that entail individual contributions in the workplace beyond the specified role requirements and are not explicitly recognized by the formal reward system), as the relationship between employee behaviours and customers' perceptions of service quality is evident. Although much research effort was devoted to explore such behaviours, most of the focus was on affiliative behaviours such as interpersonal helping and compliance which are intended to maintain and reinforce the status quo (Choi 2007). Discretionary behaviours which are promotive but challenges the status quo (i.e. making suggesting to improve work performance) has received only limited research attention (Bettencourt 2004). Also, how external representation (i.e. employee being vocal advocates to outsiders) develops has gained limited research attention despite its important contribution to the firm's image and success (Bettencourt and Brown 2003). In addition, despite numerous OCBs have been studies in the hospitality industry, only a handful was found in the case of airline cabin staff. Thus, leaving a void on how airline companies can lead employees to engage in It is generally believed that human resource management practices enhance employee performance. However, relative little is known about approaches for developing and motivating frontline service employees (Elliger et al. 2007). In addition, there remains fundamental gap in our current understanding on how management practices influence discretionary behaviours. The main objective of the current study is to examine the relationships between human resource management practices (i.e. empowerment and training) and two boundary-spanning behaviours including 1) internal influence, taking individual initiative in communications to the firm and co-workers to improve service delivery by the organizsation, co-workers, and oneself (cf. Bettencourt and Brown 2003; Bettencourt et al. 2005), and 2) external representation, being vocal advocates to outsiders of the organisation's image, products, and services (Bettencourt and Brown 2003; Bettencourt et al. 2005). Drawing from the service related literature, the authors posits that that HR practices play an indirect role in organisational performance by enhancing employee job attitudes. …