Defense Date

1-5-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Specialization

Marketing

Chair or Co-Chair

Dr. Joseph Hair

Committee Member or Co-Chair

Dr. Alex R. Zablah

Committee Member

Dr. Greg W. Marshal

Abstract

Salespeople in business-to-business markets are given autonomy to manage firms’ relationships with their customers. This autonomy implies that salespeople are responsible for making decisions that not only benefit but may also adversely impact customers (e.g., offer an account preferential treatment vs. terminate an established account). While numerous studies establish that autonomy (a critical facet of empowerment) has a positive impact on sales employee’s job outcomes, this study investigates the possibility that salesperson autonomy also has undesirable effects on salesperson job outcomes because it makes them responsible for decisions that have adverse consequences on the customers they are charged with satisfying.

Specifically, this study explores salesperson autonomy’s indirect positive (mediated by engagement) and negative (mediated by burnout) effects on salesperson job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions. In addition, the study explores how three resources, namely, customer orientation, supervisor support, and job training, moderate salesperson autonomy’s positive and negative effects on salesperson’s job outcomes. In so doing, this research (1) builds on Job Demands-Resources theory to conceptualize salesperson autonomy as a job demand that salespeople can simultaneously perceive as a challenge and a hindrance, (2) contributes to the sales management literature by being among the first to investigate how and when job autonomy can have deleterious effects on salesperson job outcomes, and (3) extends the sales management literature by being among the first to examine how sales force activities influence stakeholders (in this case salespeople) other than customers.

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