Date of Award

Summer 8-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Business Administration - Marketing

Committee Director

John B. Ford

Committee Member

Yuping Liu-Thompkins

Committee Member

Aaron Arndt

Committee Member

Weiyong Zhang


In the first essay, by drawing on theories of balance, social identity, and cue consistency, this research seeks to explain how in a mutual consumption customer B tie to the brand (other customer brand tie) may have an influence on customer A (new customer) brand trust and behavioral intentions. This study introduces a model integrating these constructs in a service context where there is a high chance of social encounters between and within customers and employees. The model also seeks to investigate the moderating effects of employee rapport building behavior, customer-to-customer closeness relationship, employee-to-employee positive interaction, and employee-to-employee incivility behavior on the main relationship. The fundamental propositions indicate that researchers should credit other customer relationship to a brand (i.e., other customer brand tie) as an antecedent of brand trust. This is critical for many companies where group consumption of services is a common phenomenon.

Relying on balance theory and cue consistency theory, essay 2 empirically tested a mechanism in which other customer brand ties can influence the focal customer’s brand trust in a dyadic social consumption situation. Study 1 demonstrates that other customer brand tie (OCBT) increases the focal customer’s brand trust, with more pronounced results for a strong customer-to-customer (C2C) closeness relationship between the focal customer and the other customer. Study 2 shows that the presence of employee rapport-building behavior increases the effectiveness of OCBT. Study 3 reveals the best approach in effectiveness for employee rapport. The overall results demonstrate that OCBT is enhanced only when the direction of rapport behavior is balanced between the two customers. This study broadens the concept of another customer having an effect on the consumer-company brand relationship. From a theoretical perspective, this study extends the findings of cue consistency theory and balance theory in the domain of services involving the dyadic consumption between two customers. From a managerial perspective, this research has implications for employee rapport behavior and acknowledges the role of social hubs in building brand trust for new customers.

Building upon cue consistency theory, essay 3 broadens the E2E incivility and employee rapport literature by examining observer responses to E2E incivility following a negative incident in the workplace. Study 1 demonstrates that after a negative incident in the workplace, the effect of server’s rapport on customer’s tipping intentions is significant when the server is civil with another employee after a negative incident. However, the effect of server’s rapport on tipping intentions is neutralized when the server is triggering E2E incivility. We also found a significant mediation effect of customer gratitude on tipping intention when the employee is civil and engages in rapport behavior. Study 2 replicates the first study when “other employees” are involved in E2E incivility in the scenarios. The results demonstrate that when other employees engage in E2E incivility, the effect of the server’s rapport, who is not part of the incivility, still significantly contributes to tipping intentions. Study 3 reveals that management interventions by offering an apology could mitigate the negative effect of witnessing E2E incivility on tipping intentions. The results of this research bring in theoretical and managerial implications for both the employee-to-employee and employee-to-customer relationship literatures.



Available for download on Friday, October 04, 2024