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Abstract

Firms with the ability to provide superior customer service can accrue significant competitive advantage and research suggests that frontline service employees' (FLSEs) actions have a considerable influence on the success of service operations. Yet, the high level of customer defections consistently attributed to poor and indifferent service suggests that many organizations are not placing sufficient emphasis on developing FLSEs to interact more effectively with customers. Although it is generally believed that human resource development enhances employee performance, relatively little is known about firms' approaches for developing and motivating FLSEs. We therefore examine the influence of service provider organizations' developmental practices on FLSE performance using data collected from 307 customer contact personnel. Our findings indicate that, in contrast to conventional wisdom, higher levels of employee development may not always yield the most beneficial outcomes.