This study examines the effect of internal marketing (IM) on salespeople's in-role and out-of-role behaviours and how these behaviours affect customer satisfaction and sales performance. It also tests the mediating role of job satisfaction as an emotional response and adopts survey design. Data from 322 companies in Daegu and Gyeongbuk Province in the Republic of Korea are collected and used to test the conceptual model using structural equation modelling. The findings reveal that organisations’ IM strategy for motivating employees positively affects salespeople's job satisfaction and out-of-role behaviour. The results also indicate that the salespeople's out-of-role behaviour enhances customer satisfaction and sales performance. This study suggests that organisations should provide guidelines and create an organizational culture that supports various IM activities to encourage employees’ spontaneous behaviours. It is among the very few, if not the first, studies that demonstrate how companies’ IM strategies could be leveraged to enhance job satisfaction and in-role and out-of-role behaviours in employees and how these behaviours could enhance customer satisfaction and sales performance.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are important in the economic and social development of countries (Pereira et al., 2022; Hessels and Parker, 2013). According to McKinney (2020), SMEs account for 45% of all employment in emerging countries, 60−70% of all employment in the organisation of economic cooperation and development (OECD) countries, more than 95% of all businesses, and a significant share of new job creation.
Although SMEs create jobs, aid in the production and development of entrepreneurship, and drive export growth in almost every country worldwide (Zhu et al., 2022), many SMEs, including those in South Korea, have struggled to recruit and retain long-term employees. Consequently, the South Korean government has implemented various systems and regulations (e.g. limiting bonus payments to long-term employees) in an attempt to help SMEs. However, SMEs must fundamentally transform themselves to ensure both employee retention and long-term competitiveness. Internal marketing (IM) which is a marketing-like approach and an application of marketinglike efforts, can most effectively motivate an organisation’s ‘internal market’ (i.e. its employees) to be more customer-conscious, marketoriented, and sales-minded (Gronroos, 1982 € ).
5.4. Limitations and Future Research Directions
This study has some limitations and offers suggestions for future research directions. First, this study investigated the role of emotional response as a mediator between appraisal processes and in-role and out-of-role behaviours. However, it failed to answer the question of which specific psychological states influence IM and employee behaviours. A more robust research model can be achieved if intervening factors were included. For example, psychological empowerment (Taylor, 2013; Chiang and Hsieh, 2012) and feeling of responsibility for change (Campbell, 2018; Fuller et al., 2006) have been used as major variables to explain employee out-of-role behaviour. When these are incorporated in the mediating process between the perception of the work environment and behaviour, a more indepth and interesting study could be obtained.
Second, situational variables or individual tendencies that may animate employees’ individual characteristics towards constructive change were not considered (Bettencourt, 2004). An important addition to the literature would be future research on how an individual’s out-of-role behaviour can be strengthened or weakened based on their character traits or personality under the same environmental conditions. For example, regulatory focus can influence out-of-role behaviour. When all else is equal, a promotion-focused person is more likely to engage in out-of-role behaviour than a preventionfocused one. Consequently, we could gain additional and possibly clearer insights if we further investigate the moderating effects of individual traits.
Third, this study relied on a single data source and collected data at a specific time point, which may have resulted in a common method bias. This bias can be reduced in future research if data is collected from two or more sources (e.g. employees, managers, employees, and archives). Furthermore, people from various job positions were interviewed, but they were analysed all together.
Finally, this study investigated the relationship between role behaviours and performance in SMEs. Although a survey at the company level (one person per company) was conducted, the majority of the respondents in the sample are from departments other than sales. No statistically significant difference exists in the response values of the respondents from other departments and sales departments for most variables. However, in future studies, investigating only salespeople may be necessary.