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Nudging as a Strategy to Achieve Cost Effective Service Excellence
Authors: Anna Louise De Visser-Amundson (Hotelschool The Hague, Netherlands, The), Mirella Kleijnen (VU University SEB)
The food service sector contributes to 14% of the total food waste in Europe. The kitchen is responsible for about 66% of this, with professional kitchens wasting 20%-25% of the food purchased (Boulden, 2017). While chefs are generally aware that reducing avoidable food waste has a positive impact on both the bottom line and the environment, it is common practise to accept food waste as an integral part of creating and delivering service excellence (Pirani & Arafat, 2016).
Service operations in general perceive cost reduction measures as a trade-off in service quality (Rust & Huang, 2012). While it is relatively easy for firms to ingrain service excellence with individual employees, asking them to be cost-effective at the same time is more difficult. However, research on Cost-Effective Service Excellence (CESE) (Wirtz & Zeithaml, 2018), suggests that firms can operate under a dual strategy of both cost effectiveness and service quality. Nudging is an effective strategy to trigger such behavioural changes on an individual level (e.g., Lehner, Mont & Heiskanen, 2016). Recent research demonstrates that specific nudges implemented in a real-life setting can break wasteful habits of kitchen employees and reduce kitchen food waste up to 25%-33% (De Visser-Amundson and Kleijnen, forthcoming). The current research builds on those findings, developing a field experiment in a professional kitchen that explores the effect of a commitment nudge in more detail.
Research shows that specific commitment messages trigger greater behavioural change than general messages (Baca-Motes et al., 2013; Locke and Latham, 2002). They are also more effective when strengthened by ‘token’ support (e.g., a pin or a bracelet) (Baca-Motes et al., 2013). We build on these findings by exploring the effect of a token that is specific of the cause versus a general token (e.g., a pin that highlights food waste versus a pin with a globe). Additionally, a token support that is private (versus public) is more effective in stimulating subsequent ‘meaningful’ support (e.g., time, cost or effort) to the cause (Kristofferson et al., 2014) which is, in this case, the kitchen brigade’s effort to reduce food waste. We expect the specific (vs general) token support to be more effective as it reduces ambiguity and idiosyncrasies of the support of cause (Locke and Latham, 2002) and specifically when privately (vs publicly) displayed as it then “activates consistency motives and increases perceived value alignment between self and cause” (Kristofferson et al., 2014, p. 1150). The dependent variable is measured by the actual kilos food waste in the kitchen (a baseline measure is set up before the nudges are implemented). The experiment has already been planned and will take place in January 2019. Data analysis will therefore be completed by the time of the conference.