Customer online reviews and hospitality employees’ helping behavior: moderating roles of self-efficacy and moral identity

Yoo Hee Hwang, Xingyu Wang, Aysin Pașamehmetoġlu

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


Purpose: Online reviews are perceived as credible and trustworthy across various business sectors; thus, they influence customers’ purchase decisions. However, the potential role of customer online reviews as feedback for employee performance and employee reactions to customer reviews remain largely unclear. To address this knowledge gap, this study proposes that employee characteristics, namely, self-efficacy (Study 1) and moral identity (Study 2), moderate the effect of the valence of customer reviews on hospitality employees’ helping behavior. Design/methodology/approach: The authors used a scenario-based, quasi-experimental design in two studies. They recruited a total of 215 frontline employees at independent casual dining restaurants in Istanbul, Turkey (Study 1) and 226 US residents who have worked in the restaurant industry for more than six months (Study 2). Multiple linear regressions via PROCESS and moderation analysis via Johnson–Neyman technique were used. Findings: Study 1 demonstrates that when employees’ self-efficacy is low, positive (vs negative) customer reviews enhance employees’ helping behavior. By contrast, when employees’ self-efficacy is high, their helping behavior is invariantly high regardless of the valence of customer reviews. Study 2 reveals that when employees’ moral identity is low, their helping behavior decreases in the presence of negative (vs positive) customer reviews. Conversely, when employees’ moral identity is high, their helping behavior is similarly high regardless of the valence of customer reviews. Practical implications: Hospitality managers may need to develop training programs to enhance their employees’ self-efficacy and moral identity. They may also provide necessary organizational support to induce their employees’ self-efficacy and moral identity, given that such psychological resources help buffer the dampening effect of negative reviews on helping behavior. Last, hospitality managers may consider incorporating customer reviews as part of employee performance feedback. Originality/value: This study advances the understanding of employees’ responses to customer reviews, with the performance appraisal feedback framework as fresh theoretical lens. This study is among the first to demonstrate the relationship between the valence of customer reviews and subsequent helping behavior of employees toward customers. It also contributes to the emerging literature that identifies boundary conditions for employees’ responses to customer reviews.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1461-1481
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2021


  • Helping behavior
  • Moral identity
  • Online review
  • Performance feedback
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management

Cite this