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Playing Their Roles: Experiential Design Concepts Applied in Complex Services
Journal of Management Inquiry (2012)
  • Madeleine E. Pullman, Portland State University
  • Michael Gross, Colorado State University - Fort Collins
With the increasing use of experience design with its theatrical ideas of scripting, staging, and other performing arts concepts in the service industry, the reaction of employees working in these environments has come under the spotlight. In addition, as the setting moves beyond theme parks to more complex contexts such as hospitals or hotels, these areas have received little exploration by researchers. This case study examines reactions of managers and service employees to a workplace implementing experience design concepts. Using an ethnographic approach, this article finds that management and employees diverge in their perceptions, meaning, and effectiveness of theatrical concepts. The authors identify two types of differences: (a) divergent interpretations in how employees and managers understand the content of the hotel’s chosen themes and (b) divergent interpretations in how employees and managers understand scripting. As a result, the employees deliver a service experience that creates conflicts with the management’s objectives. Finally, the authors find that employee’s alignment with a prescribed design depends on their job experience, occupational norms, and context of delivery. The key findings from this study inform theory and practice for managers designing service encounters, particularly related to (a) employee viewpoints and reactions to different theater-based concepts in more complex service environments and (b) implications for improving the design and implementation of these concepts for managers, employees, and customers or guests.
  • Hospitality industry -- Management,
  • Hospitality industry -- Marketing,
  • Operations management,
  • Consumers' preferences,
  • Hospitality industry -- Employees -- Attitudes
Publication Date
January, 2012
Publisher Statement
Copyright © 2014 by SAGE Publications
Citation Information
Madeleine E. Pullman and Michael Gross. "Playing Their Roles: Experiential Design Concepts Applied in Complex Services" Journal of Management Inquiry Vol. 21 Iss. 1 (2012)
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