A multilevel study on preferences for self-service technology versus human staff: Insights from hotels in China

Chun Liu, Kam Hung

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Rapid technological developments bring with them an inevitable, still unresolved debate over high-tech versus high-touch service. Technology adoption usually involves multilevel phenomena (e.g., individual, organization, and industry-wide). Moving beyond previous work, which has focused primarily on individual-level adoption, this research aims to develop a hierarchical framework integrating multiple domains. Based on 59 in-depth interviews with hoteliers and customers, the framework unveils the mechanisms of organizational and individual preference construction for self-service technologies compared with human-delivered services. Findings reveal that the interplay between the external environment, organizational context, internal service encounters, and core customer experience influences customers’ and hoteliers’ preference construction. Results further show that organizations pay more attention to the environment and organizational context, whereas individuals tend to highlight differences between customers more strongly. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102870
JournalInternational Journal of Hospitality Management
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • Hierarchical framework
  • Human services
  • Multilevel research
  • Preference construction
  • Self-service technology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management

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