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Linking Firms, Employees, and Customers: A Multilevel Research Agenda for Hospitality Studies

Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


Hospitality studies often point to a need to investigate the linkage between service providers/firms, employees, and customers. Although there is a large body of literature showing that customer behaviors are shaped by the providers while employee performance and commitment are shaped by the organizations they are embedded within, most research exclusively uses data from a single level to infer social phenomena at multiple levels. This limitation creates fallacies that inhibit a complete understanding of research problems that traverse several social hierarchies. This article presents common research problems in the hospitality literature and examples of how multilevel methods could facilitate more rigorous research by controlling contextual and potentially confounding variables that exist at multiple levels. It also presents new research avenues that could advance the knowledge and theoretical development of the field. Based on examples of three scenarios delineating research problems in three major research streams, this article shows how multilevel methods could represent a leap forward to promote more rigorous and fruitful hospitality research. It further explains how multiple methods could bridge the divides between micro and macro research and between science and practice.