Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Wendy S. Zabava Ford

Second Advisor

Heather Cercek Wade


This study explored how workplace interactions affect service providers in relationship-oriented versus encounter-oriented service contexts. A critical incident survey design was used to collect data from a large Midwestern university classroom. The results of the study were based on a ranking system and themes identified among 42 useable surveys out of 51 collected. Two stages of analyses revealed that supervisors tended to have a much greater impact on service providers in encounter-oriented contexts than in relationship-oriented contexts; coworkers appeared to have a relatively similar impact in both contexts; and in relationship-oriented contexts, customers were more likely to have an impact than in encounter-oriented contexts. Themes identified showed that the nature of the relationships between supervisors, coworkers, and customers differed for customer service providers depending on whether their interactions with customers were of a relationship-oriented or encounter-oriented context.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only