“My colleague is a robot” – exploring frontline employees' willingness to work with collaborative service robots

Stefanie Paluch*, Sven Tuzovic, Heiko F. Holz, Alexander Kies, Moritz Jörling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


As service robots increasingly interact with customers at the service encounter, they will inevitably become an integral part of employee's work environment. This research investigates frontline employee's perceptions of collaborative service robots (CSR) and introduces a new framework, willingness to collaborate (WTC), to better understand employee–robot interactions in the workplace.
Drawing on appraisal theory, this study employed an exploratory research approach to investigate frontline employees' cognitive appraisal of service robots and their WTC with their nonhuman counterparts in service contexts. Data collection consisted of 36 qualitative problem-centered interviews. Following an iterative thematic analysis, the authors introduce a research framework of frontline employees' WTC with service robots.
First, this study demonstrates that the interaction between frontline employees and service robots is a multistage appraisal process based on adoption-related perceptions. Second, it identifies important attributes across three categories (employee, robot and job attributes) that provide a foundation to understand the appraisal of CSRs. Third, it presents four employee personas (supporter, embracer, resister and saboteur) that provide a differentiated perspective of how service employee–robot collaboration may differ.
Practical implications
The article identifies important factors that enable and restrict frontline service employees' (FSEs’) WTC with robots.
This is the first paper that investigates the appraisal of CSRs from the perspective of frontline employees. The research contributes to the limited research on human–robot collaboration and expands existing technology acceptance models that fall short to explain post-adoptive coping behavior of service employees in response to service robots in the workplace.
Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Service Management
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 17.11.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • robotization
  • collaborative service robots
  • human–robot interaction
  • willingness to collaborate
  • frontline service employees

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Competition economics and service strategy - Service and customer-oriented management


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