Cocreating history: a new perspective on the old problem of role conflict and stress

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Extant services marketing literature suggests that subordinate, boundary spanning, service employees are subject (as a result of their status within the organisation) to higher levels of role conflict. This takes the form of in-role conflict, organisation-client conflict and/or inter-client conflict (depending on who is involved). Conflict creates role stress which has negative outcomes for both employees and organisations. Contemporary service encounters are also challenging for employees who are subject to increased pressure from employers and, increasingly, from more knowledgeable customers. Literature around S-D Logic suggests that greater collaboration within the service encounter may create challenging conditions for employees who are faced with more knowledgeable and demanding customers with higher expectations. Alongside increases in collaboration are growing demands to provide more personalized service experiences. These experiences suggests a growth in encounters where employees will be required to adapt their service delivery to meet customers ever shifting needs. Our research explore these issues through a case study of ‘Ancestral Tourism’, a phenomenon which sees visitors travel to a ‘homeland’ to seek information about their family history and as such is a highly personalized service experience. Our research took place in Scotland where around 250,000 people visit each year seeking information about their past and where the family history market is worth a potential $4bn over the next 5 years. Our study focusses on the delivery of ancestral tourism experiences across Scotland through a qualitative study. Our findings reveal complex, cocreated experiences between the tourist and provider which elicit strong emotions. Whilst positive experiences were identified where an individual’s ancestry was successfully discovered many others ended in disappointment. In many cases providers were forced to disprove visitor’s theories about who their ancestors were or where they came from. In some cases the family history carefully created by the visitor had to be carefully unpicked to leave a version of family history which was ‘somewhat’ accurate but avoided more unsavoury episodes or members. The need for highly personalized cocreated experiences places considerable pressure on service personnel to adapt service delivery to meet customers varying needs. In our example this included the added pressure of an experience where the customers own sense of self was at stake. We discuss the theoretical and managerial implications of our research for the delivery of personalized service experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2015
EventNaples Forum on Service 2015 - Naples, Italy
Duration: 9 Jun 201512 Jun 2015


ConferenceNaples Forum on Service 2015


  • role conflict
  • tourism
  • service employee


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