The reliance of high-contact service industries on human resources to create high-quality service experiences explains why a great deal of attention has been paid to the behaviour of service providers, in particular those involved in customer– employee exchanges. Given the critical role of service interactions in the achievement of success by service organisations, there has recently been an increased focus on employee behaviour that deviates from organisational rules of customer service and, as a consequence, harms the interests of an organisation. The purpose of the paper is to explore selected antecedent and consequent variables of customer-directed counterproductive work behaviour in a high-contact service environment. The linkages among customers’ deviant behaviour directed at employees, employees’ deviant behaviour directed at customers, and the competitive performance of an employing organisation were examined. The study adopted a quantitative approach. Data were collected from 106 food service employees in Poland by means of an online questionnaire. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were performed to test the proposed hypotheses. The results show that employee-directed customer misbehaviour contributes to customer-directed counterproductive work behaviour. Customer-directed counterproductive work behaviour in turn leads to a deterioration in the competitive performance of a food service establishment; the importance of service process quality, as a success factor, serves as a moderator in this linkage. The present research adds to the ongoing debate about the antecedents of counterproductive work behaviour and its effects on the performance of service organisations. From a managerial perspective, the identified relationships emphasise the importance of actions to be taken by employers to neutralise the negative consequences of dysfunctional customer behaviour on employee behaviour and job performance.
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