Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the phenomenon of emotional contagion in service encounters by proposing and testing an empirical model of the antecedents and consequences of affective service delivery by employees. Design/methodology/approach – A theoretical framework of the antecedents and outcomes of employee affective delivery in service interactions is developed on the basis of relevant studies in marketing, psychology, and organization. In total, nine hypothesized relationships between the constructs in the conceptual model are proposed and tested by structural equation modeling using data collected from 217 employee-customer pairs in ten service industries. Findings – Results showed that employee inner emotion, work group mood, and service environment all have a positive influence on employee affective delivery, which, in turn, positively influences customer emotion and service outcomes. Research limitations/implications – This study represents an early attempt at exploring the antecedents of employee affective delivery in service context. Future research is discussed, with an emphasis on characteristics of employees/customers, employee experiences, and service norm. Practical implications – Managers of service firms should recognize the importance of the drivers of employee positive displayed emotion. Service firms can benefit from focusing their attention on enhancing affective service delivery. Originality/value – This study described in this paper addresses important research gaps in the service marketing literature by: empirically examining the antecedents of employee affective delivery in service interactions; and providing the first test of emotional contagion and its related processes with data collected from ten different service industries, rather than a single industry.
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