Last year I decided to invest on a financial product. I wanted to put in practice some of the finance concepts that I was learning on my masters, so I wasn’t looking for a standardize investment product. However, given my limited knowledge about financial markets and services, I needed professional guidance. Increasingly, firms are viewed as facilitators of the value co-creation process rather than as producers of standardized value (Payne, Storbacka, and Frow 2008), so I contacted my bank and met with an asset manager. Together we setup a portfolio taking into account my profitability and risk goals. I was very satisfied with this service, in part because I had a voice on the portfolio composition, but what about the manager?

I was satisfied to participate in the process of creating the portfolio because I had more control over the product and the outcome met my personal goals and needs. However, this implied that the manager had less power over the portfolio composition and more input uncertainty. In fact, customers’ increased involvement in the service process may shift more power from employees to customers, and thereby increase employee workloads and role conflict (Hsieh, Yen, and Chin 2004; Kelley, Donnelly, and Skinner 1990). Customer participation can increase task difficulty for employees, leading to role ambiguity (Larsson and Bowen 1989) and ultimately job dissatisfaction. So did I increase the asset manager’s job stress?

According to the research study “Is Customer Participation in Value Creation a Double-Edged Sword? Evidence from Professional Financial Services Across Cultures”, (Kimmy Wa Chan, et al.) the answer highly depends on the cultural values of the employee and the customer.

The study analyzed (1) how customer participation drives performance outcomes (e.g. employee’s job stress) through the creation of economic and relational values and (2) how it differs across different cultures. The study used data collected from 349 pairs of customers and service employees in two national groups (Hong Kong and the United States) of a global financial institution.

Conceptual framework
Proposed conceptual framework

Customer Participation can drive service outcomes through the creation of either economic values (the benefit and cost outcomes of the portfolio co-created) or relational values (the emotional bonds between the asset manager and me) for both customers and service employees.

In order to understand how participants’ cultural differences have an impact on the effects of customer participation on value creation, the study analyzed three cultural value orientations: individualism, collectivism and power distance (Hofstede 1980).

The table above explains these cultural values orientations and shows countries in which they are verified.

Hofstede's cultural dimensions
Hofstede’s cultural dimensions

Customer participation may be a double-edged sword. If customers have high collectivist and power distance value orientations, they perceive less economic value and are able to enhance employee’s job satisfaction, through the creation of relational value. However if otherwise they are highly individualists or with a lower power distance value orientation, customer participation can indeed increase employees’ job stress.

Given the increasing globalization of markets, it could be worthwhile to match customers and employees by their cultural values, in order to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs of customer participation.


Kimmy Wa Chan, Chi Kin (Bennett) Yim, & Simon S.K. Lam (2010), “Is Customer Participation in Value Creation a Double-Edged Sword? Evidence from Professional Financial Services Across Cultures”, Journal of Marketing, Vol. 74 (May 2010), 48–64

Guerrier, Yvonne and Amel S. Adib (2000), “‘No, We Don’t Provide That Service:’ The Hararssment of Hotel Employees by Customers,” Work Employment Society, 14 (4), 689–704.

Hofstede, Geert H. (1980), Culture’s Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Hsieh, An T., Chang H. Yen, and Ko C. Chin (2004), “Participative Customers as Partial Employees and Service Provider Work- load,” International Journal of Service Industry Management, 15 (2), 187–99.

Kelley, Scott W., James H. Donnelly Jr., and Steven J. Skinner (1990), “Customer Participation in Service Production and Delivery,” Journal of Retailing, 66 (Fall), 315–35.

Payne, Adrian F., Kaj Storbacka, and Pennie Frow (2008), “Managing the Co-Creation of Value,” Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 36 (1), 83–96.




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