Kuo Feng

Thesis title: Social connectedness: How commercial senior living facilities help enhance older adults’ social well-being through social activities in China

Start year: 2016

Supervisor(s): Professor Levent Altinay, Dr Jackie Clarke

Research topic

While an excess of research examines the antecedents and outcomes of positive employee-to-customer interaction in the hospitality industry, little empirical investigation has been conducted so far to understand the effect of social interactions with other actors on customers’ well-being. This omission is particularly intriguing in the context of senior living facilities. This research aims to investigate the influence of socially supportive services provided by commercial senior living facilities on older customers’ social well-being. This study seeks to test the moderating role of social connectedness on the above associations. It explores necessary conditions and causal recipes from the combination of interactions and social connectedness to predict customers’ social well-being. Building on a transformative service research perspective, the present study draws on a mixed-methods approach using a sequential quantitative-qualitative design to understand the interface between social interactions with employees, peers and outsiders, social connectedness, and social well-being. Using data from 267 elderly individuals in senior caring facilities combined with three focus groups in China, the study confirms the role of positive social interactions in enhancing social well-being of older customers. Social connectedness is also found to positively influence the relationship of social interactions and elderly customers’ social well-being. Findings from the qualitative study lend support to the proposed theoretical model and further demonstrate how elderly consumers’ social well-being is impacted in a transformative way by social interactions with employees, peers and outsiders. Findings also show how different actors and older customers deploy various resources to pursue transformative outcomes of value exchange and value co-creation. The study advances transformative service research and suggests implications for policy and managers in hospitality.