Zooming out: actor engagement beyond the dyadic

Matthew J. Alexander, Elina Jaakkola, Linda D. Hollebeek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The aim of this paper is to broaden extant understanding of actor engagement behavior beyond its currently dominant dyadic (micro-level) focus, by examining it from multiple levels of aggregation within a service ecosystem framework.
Design/methodology/approach: This conceptual paper draws on service-dominant logic and structuration theory as theoretical lenses to inform engagement research.
Findings: By means of a stepwise exercise of ‘zooming out,’ the paper introduces a multiperspective (micro-, meso-, macro- and meta-level) view of actor engagement that develops understanding of multiple engagement contexts, and suggests that balancing multiple roles may result in actor disengagement behavior. The role of reference groups and role conflict associated with balancing multiple roles is critical to understanding why engaged actor proclivities may wax and wane between contexts.
Research limitations/implications: The paper offers a set of five propositions that can be utilized by engagement scholars undertaking further research in this area.
Practical implications: Firms need to understand the values and norms embedded in diverse engagement contexts which can affect actor groups’ needs and motivations. Firms should develop appropriate organizational mechanisms to facilitate (rather than impede or obstruct) the desired behaviors of engaged actors.
Originality/value: The broader context within which engaged actors operate, and its effects on engagement, has been largely overlooked to date. By broadening the analytical perspective on engagement beyond the dyadic this paper reveals previously unaddressed aspects of this phenomenon, such as the role of disengagement behavior, and the effects of multiple engagement contexts on actors’ future behaviors.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Service Management
Early online date4 Jan 2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jan 2018


  • service-dominant logic
  • structuration
  • actor engagement
  • customer engagement
  • service ecosystem
  • role conflict


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