Business, College of


First Advisor

Ravipreet Sohi

Date of this Version



Kim, C. (2023). Realizing the Good Despite Customer Mistreatment [Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska - Lincoln].


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Business (Marketing), Under the Supervision of Professor Ravipreet Sohi, Chair. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2023

Copyright © 2023 Carissa L. Kim


Unruly and rude customer behavior is on the rise. Estimates indicate that frontline employees experience ten episodes of customer mistreatment daily. Not only is customer mistreatment detrimental for the frontline employee (e.g., higher turnover, lower job satisfaction, lower well-being, and more), but also for customers that witness (e.g., emotional contagion) or engage (e.g., loss of morals) in these deviant interpersonal behaviors. Extending the body of research on customer mistreatment, my dissertation seeks to investigate silver linings or possible functional consequences of customer mistreatment. My dissertation draws from Emotions as Social Information (EASI) theory to investigate the outcomes of mistreatment in addition to moderators that may enhance functional outcomes. I examine the transgressor’s perspective and how frontline employees may nudge customers into engaging in prosocial behaviors.

I use multiple methodologies to answer my research questions. First, I conduct a longitudinal survey of frontline employees through Experience Sampling Methodology. Second, I collect a dyadic field survey from the customer and the frontline employee. Finally, I conduct an experiment to understand the transgressor’s perspective. Overall, this dissertation aims to contribute to the nascent literature on the functional outcomes of deviant interpersonal behavior. I hope to provide actionable insights for managers and frontline employees when faced with customer mistreatment.

Advisor: Ravipreet Sohi

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