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When good news is bad news: the negative impact of positive customer feedback on front-line employee well-being

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-04-13, 12:38 authored by Linda Nasr, Jamie Burton, Thorsten GruberThorsten Gruber
Purpose – Front-line employee (FLE) well-being is an under-researched field. Contrasting the prevailing view that Positive Customer Feedback (PCF) can only have ‘positive’ impacts, this study aims to answer the counterintuitive question: Could the apparently positive construct ‘Positive Custo mer Feedback’ have a negative impact on the well-being of front-line employees? Consequently, working within the Transformative Service Research (TSR) framework, we investigate whether PCF can negatively affect the eudaimonic and hedonic well-being dimensions of FLEs, thus decreasing their overall psychological well-being level. Design/methodology/approach – A multidisciplinary literature review was conducted, particularly in the social psychology, human resources and organizational behavior fields, to examine the potential negative impacts of PCF. Subsequently, an exploratory qualitative study consisting of seven focus groups with 45 FLEs and 22 in-depth interviews with managers working across various service industries were performed. All the transcripts were analyzed via an iterative hermeneutical process. Findings – A model describing ten negative impacts and six key contingencies of PCF was developed. The identified impacts can negatively affect the eudaimonic and hedonic well-being dimensions of FLEs. PCF can have a negative impact on the eudaimonic dimensions such as harmony, respect and support. Moreover, PCF appears to increase the negative affect by creating tension, fear, strain and stress, thus, negatively affecting the happiness level of FLEs (hedonic well-being). The identified contingencies play a crucial role in determining the direction and intensity of the negative impact of PCF. Therefore, the overall psychological well-being level of FLEs can suffer as a result of PCF. This study also discusses managerial challenges associated with PCF management. Research limitations/implications – The article discusses important managerial implications in the field of FLE well-being and PCF management and suggests directions for future research aiming to expand the boundaries of the current TSR agenda and service human resources. Originality/value – This study is the first to explore the negative side of PCF from a TSR perspective. It extends the understanding of the overlooked area of PCF and FLE well-being.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in







599 - 612 (14)


NASR, L., BURTON, J. and GRUBER, T., 2015. When good news is bad news: the negative impact of positive customer feedback on front-line employee well-being. Journal of Services Marketing, 29(6-7), pp. 599-612.


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  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

Publication date



This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Services Marketing and the definitive published version is available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JSM-01-2015-0052.




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