Xiao Ma

Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management

First Advisor

Robin B. DiPietro


The purpose of this study was to conceptualize restaurant employee experience, develop a scale to measure it, and test its effects on turnover intention in the context of the U.S. full-service casual dining restaurants.

The study took a mixed-methods approach. Specifically, four steps were conducted, namely specifying the construct domain, generating items and dimensionality of scale, refining the measurement, and validating the measurement. Consequently, the restaurant employee experience was conceptualized with 44 items, which built up four dimensions: technology, physical workplace, customer-employee interactions, and organization-employee interaction.

To further validate the measurement of restaurant employee experience and test its effect on turnover intention, a conceptual model was proposed based on social exchange theory, person-organization fit theory, and cognitive appraisal theory. The results showed positive effects of restaurant employee experience on employees’ affective commitment and person-organization fit. Restaurant employee experience also positively affected affective commitment via the mediation of person-organization fit. Moreover, the results indicated that restaurant employee experience indirectly reduced employees’ turnover intention via affective commitment.

This study made both theoretical and practical contributions. This was the first attempt to conceptualize restaurant employee experience, which was identified as a series of employee touchpoints between an employee and a restaurant before, during and after his/her tenure. This conceptualization confirmed the multidimensional nature of the restaurant employee experience and provided a comprehensive and integrative understanding. This study adopted an employee-centric perspective, which challenged the existing assumption of organization-centric perspective, in answering the research questions. This extended the application of the assumption-challenging approach in the restaurant research and proved its applicability in new knowledge acquiring and theory building.

This study also provided insightful practical implications for restaurant owners/managers. First, the results highlighted the importance for restaurants to adopt the employee-centric view in designing employee experience to reduce turnover intention. The quantitative results provided a measurable framework along with four dimensions and forty-four items that can offer guidance on how to measure and design employee experience. The qualitative results illustrated the depth and width of the restaurant employee experience by illuminating richer details, providing a more comprehensive understanding.


© 2023, Xiao Ma

Available for download on Sunday, August 31, 2025