Principles and Principals: Do Customer Stewardship and Agency Control Compete or Complement when Shaping Frontline Employee Behavior?

Jeroen Schepers*, Tomas Falk, Ko de Ruyter, Ad de Jong, Maik Hammerschmidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article introduces customer stewardship control (CSC) to the marketing field. This concept represents a frontline employee's felt ownership of and moral responsibility for customers' overall welfare. In two studies, the authors show that CSC is a more encompassing construct than customer orientation, which reflects a frontline employee's focus on meeting customers' needs. They provide evidence that the former is more potent in shaping in- and extra-role employee behaviors. Moreover, they highlight how CSC operates in conjunction with an organization's agency control system: Stewardship's positive influence on in- and extra-role behavior is weaker in the presence of high agency control. They offer actionable advice about how to solve the resulting managerial control dilemma. Finally, the authors show that CSC depends on drivers that reside at the individual level (employee relatedness), the team level (team competence), or both levels of aggregation (employee and team autonomy). These findings show how to effectively design a frontline employee's work environment to ensure optimal frontline performance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Marketing
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)1-20
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Frontline employees
  • Stewardship theory
  • Marketing control
  • In-role behavior
  • Extra-role behavior
  • Multilevel analysis

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