The Spillover Effects of Customer No-Shows: Field Evidence from an Online Education Platform
40 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2019 Last revised: 30 Jan 2020
Date Written: December 21, 2019
Emerging technologies have created a new business model: the sharing economy, which connects independent service providers to customers on digital platforms for short-term contracts. Since independent contractors have different work experiences from traditional in-house employees, it is important to understand what shapes their motivation and emotions. We contribute to this understanding by studying how customer no-shows influence independent contractors’ effort provision and positive affective displays during interactions with their next customer. Using data from six million scheduled classes on an online education platform in which student no-shows do not affect teachers’ pay, we find that unexplained student no-shows reduce teachers’ subsequent effort provision and positive affective displays at their next class. These effects are attenuated when student no-shows are beyond students’ controls (as caused by Internet connection problems) as well as when teachers have more teaching experience off the platform. We build on attribution theory and the customer incivility literature: Independent contractors attribute unexplained customer no-shows to disrespectfulness, which leads them to exert less effort and display positive affect less frequently when serving the next customer; this effect becomes weaker when independent contractors can attribute customer no-shows to other reasons. In a scenario-based experiment mimicking our field setting, we provide initial evidence that no-shows can yield perceptions of customer disrespectfulness and that external attributions attenuate this effect. Our research advances understanding of drivers of independent contractors’ engagement, the interplay of work experiences between traditional organizations and sharing economy platforms, and the source and impact of customer incivility.
Keywords: sharing economy, independent contractors, customer no-shows, spillover effect, attribution, customer incivility, motivation, natural experiment
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