Customer citizenship behaviour is among the most promising areas in marketing theory and practice. In marketing theory, customer citizenship behaviour (CCB) is perceived as non-obligatory consumer actions that create value for the company. It is addressed under various notions in several research streams, including service-dominant logic of marketing, customer engagement and customer prosumption (Dewalska and Mitręga, 2017). In business practice, companies welcome and encourage customers to engage in CCB. In turn, these customers are treated as value co-creators.
Although various factors are discussed in the literature as drivers of customer citizenship behaviour and value co-creation, the available knowledge about the mechanism that leads consumers to the engagement in these activities is still weak, especially on the empirical level (Alves at al., 2016; Roberts et al., 2014). The prior research on the antecedents of co-creation was in general unidimensional, i.e. focused on either consumer attributes (Huynh and Olsen, 2015; Xie et al., 2008) or the extrinsic factors that can be controlled by the companies or are context-specific (Haumann et al., 2015; Yi, Gong and Lee, 2013).
This paper presents the results of an empirical study conducted among Polish customers. The research was explorative in nature and conducted among 105 respondents. The study especially aimed to identify some consumer-related and company-related attributes that were hypothesised as drivers of customer citizenship behaviour. To identify the antecedents to customer value co-creation, the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was conducted. Next, the multi-dimensional factor structure was assessed with SmartPLS 3.0 using standard measures of validity. Finally, the Heterotrait-Monotrait Ratio of Correlations (HTMT) was controlled as the latest validity test. Apart from research results, the paper also presents conclusions, points of some important limitations connected with the explorative character of the current research and indicates the possible future research areas.
1 Value co-creation and customer citizenship behaviour — a literature review
Recently, there has been a focus on customer behaviour in management and marketing literature (Bettencourt, 1997; Groth, 2005; Yi et al., 2013; Aggarwal, 2014). Prior studies allowed to recognise the role of customers who engage in various positive, discretionary behaviour with companies and other customers (Yi and Gong, 2006). Various terms have been used to describe this conduct, including customer voluntary behaviour (Bettencourt, 1997; Rosenbaum and Messiah, 2007; Balaij, 2014) or customer citizenship behaviour (Gruen, 2000; Groth, 2005; Bove et al., 2009), which is the subject matter of the general interest presented in the paper.
Customer citizenship behaviour (CCB) may be defined as “discretionary and pro-social actions displayed by customers, that bring benefits both to the companies and other customers” (Bettencourt, 1997; Bove et al., 2009). Other authors (Bettencourt, 1997; Bove et al., 2009) presented similar definitions of CCB. Citizenship behaviours are extra-role initiatives beyond the requirements of the usually performed customer roles. Hsieh, Yen and Chin (2004) referred to such helpful behaviours performed by customers as customer voluntary performance (CVP).
Literature suggests that customer citizenship behaviour is a multidimensional construct consisting of several forms (Soch and Aggarwal, 2013; Garma and Bove, 2009; Balaji, 2014; Bettencourt, 1997; Groth, 2005; Johnson and Rapp, 2010; Gruen, 1995; Bettencourt, 1997):
- customer behaviour that involves the provision of information and (positive or negative) opinions regarding companies, their goods and services, with the intention of improving the marketing activity (co-creation, voice, consultancy);
- customer behaviour that involves encouraging other customers (friends, family members, Internet users etc.) to use goods or services of a company, positive word-of-mouth (WOM) and recommendations (advocacy);
- customer behaviour that displays the commitment to a company, a favourable attitude towards its products, services and marketing activity by presenting a company’s logotype (on clothes, bags etc.), presenting the involvement in marketing events provided by a company (displaying affiliation, social support);
- customer behaviour consisting of helping other customers when the use of a product or company processes may be troublesome and uneasy for other customers, benevolent acts of service facilitation towards other customers (helping other customers);
- customer behaviour that involves observing other customers aiming to eliminate inappropriate behaviour, e.g. not respecting the queue, misbehaving on the company’s fan page, being rude to other customers (mitigating, policing).
Among various dimensions of CCB, there is an overlap with customer value co-creation as a booming concept of today’s marketing (Alves at al., 2016; Roberts et al., 2014). Traditionally, suppliers produced goods and services, which were purchased by customers. In the traditional conception of the process of value creation, consumers were “outside the firm.” Value creation occurred inside the firm (through its activities) and outside markets. The concept of the “value chain” epitomised the unilateral role of the firm in creating value (Porter, 1980). The firm and the consumer had distinct roles of production and consumption, respectively. In this perspective, the market, viewed either as a locus of exchange or as an aggregation of consumers, was separate from the value creation process (Kotler, 2002). It had no role in value creation. Its role was the exchange and extraction of value (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004).
Today, customers can engage in a dialogue with suppliers during each stage of product design and product delivery (Ballantyne, 2004). Due to the cooperation and mutual engagement, a supplier and a customer have the opportunity to create value through customised, co-produced offerings. The co-creation of value is a desirable goal as it assists firms in highlighting the customer’s or consumer’s point of view and in improving the front-end process of identifying customer needs and wants (Lusch and Vargo, 2006).
Literature studies indicate a noticeable difference between two terms that are similar but not synonymous, namely, co-creation and co-production. According to Payne et al. (2008), “co-creation” presents the service-dominant (S-D) logic, according to which acting together, a supplier and a customer have the opportunity to create value. The term “co-production” is tainted with connotations of goods-dominant (G-D) logic, which involves a transfer of some activities to customers (for example IKEA involving customers in transportation and assembly of flat-pack furniture).
In their value co-creation conceptual framework, Tommasetti et al. (2017) presented co-production as a constituent of value co-creation behaviour, together with cerebral activities, cooperation, information research and collation, co-learning and connection. This was also described by Lush and Vargo (2006 and 2014). While co-production refers to customer participation in the realisation of value proposition, the co-creation is defined as the customer creation of value-in-use. It means that value for the user is created or emerges during the use, which is a process, in which the customer as a user is in charge (Grönroos, 2011). As Vargo and Akaka (2009) observed, there could be no value without the customer incorporating the firm offering into his or her life. Hence, value is created by the user, and moreover, also experienced by the user, who also uniquely determines what value is created (Vargo and Lusch, 2004).
The classification of customer roles (Fig. 2) presents the eleven most popular and common roles. Although they are all distinct aspects, they are interrelated, and all play an important role for both companies and their customers.
The value obtained through co-creation may help satisfy customers and simultaneously benefit firms (Maglio et al., 2009; Edvardsson et al., 2011). Even in the case of a service failure, the involvement of customers in the recovery process could enhance customer satisfaction and encourage repeated purchases (Dong et al., 2008; Roggeveen, Tsiros and Grewal, 2008). Theoretically, better product quality (Füller, Hutter and Faullant, 2011), greater customer satisfaction (Nambisan and Baron, 2007) and reduced risk for the firm (Maklan, Knox and Ryals, 2008) are the key benefits of value co-created with the customer (Roser, DeFillippi and Samson, 2013).
It should be noted that value co-creation requires consumers to invest or sacrifice their resources (such as time and effort), which is sometimes described by as commitment or supportive behaviour (Wing Sung Tung et al., 2017). Since the behaviour is voluntary, it should be driven by specific motives. Therefore, it is only natural to ask: what antecedents of customer citizenship behaviours exist in general and for feedback in particular? To address this question, relevant concepts and theories should be considered.
According to Fowler (2013), the theory of motivation may suggest the answer to the question, with special regard to intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. The intrinsic motivation refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting, enjoyable or fits customer’s values or attitudes. Elster (2006) pointed at altruism as motivation. Studies on human altruistic behaviours have shown that an extra role can make the value co-creator feel happy and satisfied. Once people experience that by doing a good thing, they do more of it to obtain inner happiness. The extrinsic motivation, however, refers to doing something because it leads to a separable outcome, for instance, may be appreciated and rewarded by a reference group or a company (Kotler, 1994; Ryan and Deci, 2000).
Fernandes and Remelhe (2016) proposed a model based on four specific motives as drivers for customer involvement in the co-creation process, i.e.: intrinsic motives (such as joy, curiosity, new experience), financial motives (such as expected monetary compensation or other rewards, e.g. special offers, prices), but also knowledge motives (improvement of skills, self-development) and social motives (the sense of belonging, the sense of community, communication), which may be referred to as an orientation towards Maslow’s social and self-esteem needs. Hoyer et al. (2010) stressed that “consumer-level motivators” and “firm-level stimulators” are primarily responsible for the scope and intensity of value co-creation.
As far as the theory of motivation is concerned, to explain customer citizenship behaviour, the hierarchy of needs by Maslow may be useful. Cianci and Gambrel (2003) stated that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was the most referred to and discussed motivation theory. Maslow’s theory posits that an individual will satisfy basic-level needs before modifying behaviour to higher-level needs, i.e., from physiological, safety and security to belonging (social needs), self-esteem, self-actualisation and transcendent needs (Urwiler and Frolick, 2008). This approach to the theory of needs gained both its adherents (Urwiler and Frolick, 2008; Rosenbaum and Messiah, 2007; Koltko-Rivera, 2006; Coy and Kovacs-Long, 2005) and opponents (Yang, 2003; Wahba and Bridwell, 1976; Payne, 1970; Alderfer, 1969). Some researchers created an interesting concept, according to which it is possible to aggregate all the needs into three main categories, i.e., basic needs, social needs and altruistic needs (Cao et al., 2012; Radic, 2011). Thus, it may be hypothesised that customers engage in citizenship behaviour to fulfil their needs, mainly those that belong to higher levels in the hierarchy, such as self-esteem.
Value co-creation as a voluntary activity may also be explained by the social exchange theory in general, and the principle of reciprocity in particular. The core tenants of this framework are voluntary actions of an unspecified nature that extend beyond basic role obligations and suggest a personal commitment to others (Blau, 1964; Patterson and Smith, 2003). By participating in value co-creation, customers expect to be appreciated and helped in the future, and not necessarily by the same beneficiaries but while acting as the recipients of the support when needed (Falk and Fischbacher, 2006).
2 Research methods
The purpose of this study was to identify some correlates with the inclination of customers to engage in value co-creation in favour of companies, as a specific form of CCB. The research was conducted in 2017, in the form of a survey. It was a part of a survey on a broader spectrum of customer citizenship behaviour; nevertheless, the paper presents only selected results, i.e. research findings referring to customer value co-creation. The research was exploratory in nature, conducted aiming to determine the nature of the problem, and was not intended to provide conclusive evidence, but to have a better understanding of the problem (Henson and Roberts, 2006).
Data was collected from Polish customers only. The assumption of the sample selection was to find respondents, who declared they had engaged in value co-creation as a form of customer citizenship behaviour. Sampling was in the form of snowball sampling (a non-random technique). In total, 105 valid questionnaires were used in the analysis. Tab. 1 presents basic information about survey respondents.
Profile of survey respondents
|a. 18 – 25 years||40.0|
|b. 26 – 35 years||11.4|
|c. 36 – 45 years||13.38|
|d. 46 – 55 years||15.2|
|e. 56 – 56 years||10.5|
|f. 66 years and more||9.5|
|a. Primary and junior high school||2.9|
|c. Secondary general||33.3|
|d. Secondary technical||28.6|
The questionnaire was used as a research tool for data collection. It contained scales to measure the inclination to co-create value and its determinants. For the dependent variables (value co-creation through feedback), scales were adopted from studies by Soch and Aggarwal (2013), Groth (2005) and Johnson and Rapp (2010), while for independent variables (i.e. consumer innovativeness, fulfilment or the need for stability or the need for esteem, feedback appreciation), scales were generally adopted from studies by Kim et al. (2002), Cook and Wall (1980), Goldsmith and Hofacker (1991) and Gossling et al. (2003). The vast majority of constructs were measured with multi-item reflective measurement models using 5-point Likert scales ranging from (1) “strongly disagree” to (5) “strongly agree”, except for “feedback appreciation” measured as a single item (i.e. “To what extent the company has shown appreciation for your activities? From 1 — “has not shown appreciation at all” to 5 — “has shown a lot of appreciation”). Some adaptation was also used when respondents were asked about the frequency of an activity, ranging from (1) “I definitely did not perform”/“I will definitely not perform” to (5) “I definitely performed”/“I will definitely perform.” To reduce the measurement error and not to bias the results, neutral wording was used, as well as the assurance of respondent anonymity and data confidentiality.
Before analysing the interrelations between independent variables and the inclination to co-create as the dependent variable, the quality of the measurement model was tested. Firstly, answers for 14 items were analysed using the Exploratory Factor Analysis. The EFA results suggested some important revision with regard to the hypothesised factor structure (Table 2). Specifically, the Inclination to Co-Create, that was originally treated as one latent construct, appeared to be loaded clearly by two first items, while the third item, i.e. “Participating in customers surveys” did not load at a commonly acceptable level (>0.6) in any of the distinguished latent factors. Thus, the decision was made to treat this item as reflecting a distinct aspect of customer co-creation. Namely, we made a distinction between “Spontaneous Co-Creation” (Spontan_CoCreate) and “Organised Co-Creation” (Organised_CoCreate).
Rotaded Component Matrix
|Rotated Component Matrixa|
|Providing information on customer satisfaction||0.791|
|Providing feedback on the company’s products, services and market activity (online and offline)||0.764||−0.340|
|Participating in customer surveys||0.404||0.516|
|Always buys the latest models available in the market||0.760|
|Willing to buy the latest technology||0.685||−0.556|
|Knows brand names and the latest products offered in the market||0.904|
|Usually identifies the latest products faster than others||0.863|
|Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Varimax with Kaiser Normalization.|
Here, the first aspect of co-creation referred to situations when feedback provision by customers was conducted as a bottom-up process, i.e. the company did not organise formal customer surveys. The second aspect of co-creation referred more directly to the communication between companies and their customers initiated and organised by companies. Additionally, as one of the items was originally associated with consumer innovativeness (i.e. “Willing to buy the latest technology”) but received too strong cross-loading, this item was excluded.
Next, the quality of the revised 5-dimensional factor structure was assessed with the help of Smart-PLS 3.0 using standard measures of validity and this structure appeared to meet all standard thresholds (Table 3) except for Cronbach’s alpha for Spontan_CoCreat amounting to 0.64, which was acceptable concerning the exploratory character of this research project (Hair et al., 2013; Mitręga, 2014; Nunnally et al., 1967). Finally, the authors also controlled for heterotrait-monotrait ratio of correlations (HTMT) as the latest validity test suggested by Hair et al. (2017 for PLS-SEM and all HTMT was below the suggested (conservative) threshold value of 0.85.
|Cronbach’s Alpha||rho_A||Composite Reliability||Average Variance Extracted (AVE)|
3 PLS-SEM results
The authors of the article estimated structural links between the two-dimensional inclination to co-create and four distinct antecedents using the partial least square structural equation modelling technique (PLS-SEM). Also, the potential impact of some control variables was monitored, namely, customer age (Age), customer education (Education), the number of inhabitants at the place of residence (City size), the financial status perceived by a consumer (Econom status), and the frequency of the use of Internet (Internet use). Some advantages of PLSSEM helped to decide against the use of CB-SEM (covariance-based SEM). PLS-SEM is a promising method that offers a vast potential for SEM researchers, especially in the disciplines of marketing and management of information systems. Compared to CB-SEM, it is more robust with fewer identification issues. It works with much smaller as well as much larger samples, and readily incorporates formative as well as reflective constructs (Hair, Ringle and Sarstedt, 2011).
Specifically, it was considered that the main variables that were the focus of attention did not have a normal distribution, and PLS-SEM did not presume that the data were normally distributed (Hair et al., 2011). Also, PLS-SEM was preferred because Smart-PLS 3.0 software allowed for direct ex-post testing moderation effects connected with potential multi-group differences with regard to the gender of the respondents (Ringle et al., 2018).
Fig. 3 presents the results of the PLS algorithm estimation for the structural model with all control variables. The variables from the baseline model are marked in the upper-left corner, while the control variables are presented in the lower-left corner. The numbers on the paths between the latent variables represent p values for particular path coefficients, where p<0.05 represents a statistically significant path.
Concerning the results for the baseline model, only some causal paths were found statistically significant, namely, the impact of appreciation on Organised CoCreate and the fulfilment of the need for stability need on Spontan CoCreate (conservative significance level, p<0.05).
Thus, our dataset provided partial support for our structural model, which is reasonable concerning the exploratory character of this study. However, we have also conducted an ex-post moderation analysis with the consumer gender as the factor potentially explaining inter-group differences in the structural model with the help of PLS-MGA algorithm proposed by Henseler et al. (2009) and available in SmartPLS 3.0 (Ringle et al., 2018).
The results of this algorithm for two causal paths which were significantly different in male vs female subsamples (in the case of significance test with p <0.5) are presented in Table 4.
Bootstrapping results for PLS-MGA (female vs male)
|Path Coefficients Mean (female)||Path Coefficients Mean (male)||p-Values (female)||p-Values (male)|
|Appreciation -> Spontan_CoCreate||0.330||−0.194||0.003||0.107|
|stability_need_fulfil -> Spontan_CoCreate||0.550||0.042||0.004||0.515|
These results suggest that in the case of surveyed women, there was a significant and positive connection between showed appreciation and Spontan_ CoCreate, while this path was not statistically significant in the male sub-sample. In the similar spirit, the path between the fulfilment of the need for stability and Spontan_CoCreate was stronger in the women’s sub-sample than in the general sample, while in the case of men, this path was statistically insignificant. Thus, the structural model appeared to work much better in the case of women as co-creators of a company offering than in the case of men as potential co-creators. This mechanism was observed in the case of both aspects of co-creation, namely, spontaneous co-creation and organised co-creation.
4 Discussion of the results
Customer citizenship behaviour, although a relatively new concept, has been a subject of interest among many researchers presenting its definitions and dimensions. Although various factors are discussed in the literature as drivers of customer citizenship behaviour and the inclination for value co-creation, the knowledge about the mechanism that leads customers to engage in these activities is weak, especially on the empirical level.
From a theoretical perspective, the paper integrates several approaches to customer citizenship behaviour, explaining the meaning and several dimension on the basis of literature studies. A focus is on value co-creation as one of the forms (dimensions) of customer citizenship behaviour, apart from advocacy, affiliation, helping other customers and mitigating them when inappropriate behaviour has been noticed. The paper also presents a conceptual framework of the possible motives to undertake an extra role.
The conducted research was exploratory in nature and aimed at identifying antecedents of a specific form of customer citizenship. The inclination to co-create was originally treated as one latent construct, but the hypothesised factor structure appeared to reflect distinct aspects of customer co-creation, i.e., spontaneous co-creation (fully initiated by customers, voluntary behaviour) and organised co-creation (customer contribution as a response to specific actions undertaken by a company). On the basis of the estimated PLS structural model, some casual paths were found as statistically significant, while other paths were not. There was a significant impact of appreciation on organised co-creation and the fulfilment of the need for stability on spontaneous co-creation. These factors can be interpreted within the theory of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation (Fernandes and Remelhe, 2016; Fowler, 2013; Elsver, 2006; Ryan and Deci, 2000). In the case of a company’s planned actions aimed to engage customers in value co-creation, any appreciation expressed by a company in the form of compensation, rewards or bonuses (i.e. special offers, lower prices, letters of gratitude etc.) significantly enhances the customer’s inclination for organised co-creation. Referring to Hoyer et al. (2010), “firm-level stimulators” are responsible for the scope and intensity of organised value co-creation.
Simultaneously, in terms of voluntary and discretionary value co-creation, intrinsic motives in the form of the fulfilment of the need for stability correlate with the inclination for spontaneous co-creation. The sense of satisfaction of needs or compulsion makes customers more eager to engage in the process of co-creation.
The results of the post-hoc analysis suggest that in the case of co-creation, the customer’s gender is the factor explaining some inter-group differences within the structural model. It seems that women could be more motivated to act as co-creators in the aspects of both spontaneous and organised activity. It is an interesting finding, which may be explained using communication skills (Gustafsson et al., 2012) or social motivation (Fernades and Remelhe, 2016). A relatively small sample and exploratory nature of the study require a deeper insight to legitimatise this interpretation in further research, e.g. using a larger survey sample and an experimental approach.
From a managerial perspective, the paper provides intellectual input into attempts of companies to facilitate the turning of consumers into “good soldiers” (Groth, 2005) and to voluntarily provide strategic marketing resources. By successfully managing customer citizenship, companies may seek to maximise the lifetime value of desirable customer segments. Business entities may gain a competitive advantage by involving customers in the value-delivery process. However, customers may satisfy their needs not only by receiving co-created values but also by performing an extra role for the benefit of others, and their involvement would be reflected in the level of satisfaction received from contacts with companies in the cooperation.
In summary, customer citizenship behaviour may be perceived as a complex aspect of customer behaviour. The behaviour is driven by specific factors that encourage customers to undertake an extra role. This research suggests focusing on two dimensions of customer co-creation as a form of CCB, i.e., initiated by companies (Organised Co-Creation) and by customers (Spontaneous Co-Creation). The estimated PLS modelling identified some significant antecedents to customer citizenship, i.e., appreciation shown by companies towards customers who engage in the organised co-creation process (as extrinsic motivation) and customer innovativeness, as well as the fulfilment of the need for stability (as intrinsic motivation) in terms of spontaneous co-creation. The ex-post moderation analysis identified gender as the factor potentially explaining inter-group differences in the structural model, which is not conclusive but opens an interesting direction for further research.
This study may enrich the understanding of the inclination of customers for co-creation on both theoretical and empirical levels, indicating some drivers for customer propensity to undertake an extra role. The presented findings may be interesting for researchers and business practitioners.
Nevertheless, some limitations are worth addressing. Firstly, the research sample was somewhat small. Although results on customer co-creation were a part of a broader research, a more prolific sample may allow identifying new drivers for co-creating behaviours. Secondly, this research focused only on a very specific aspect of customer citizenship overlapping with value co-creation, namely customer feedback regarding the company’s initiatives, so this study does not comprise the conceptual diversity of both CCB and VCC as described in the recent literature (Assiouras et al., 2019; Kim and Choi, 2016; Vargo and Lusch, 2016). Thirdly, the data collection and analysis methods may be extended. Finally, research based on the perspective of companies may be conducted. This leaves some space for a future study.
The research presented in the paper was partially prepared by Maciej Mitręga and sponsored by the National Science Centre of Poland (Narodowe Centrum Nauki) under the project No. UMO-2017/25/B/HS4/01669.
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