City Research Online

Customer Work Practices and the Productive Third Place

Mimoun, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-5173-312X and Gruen, A. (2021). Customer Work Practices and the Productive Third Place. Journal of Service Research, doi: 10.1177/211014278


Third places – communal or socializing places such as coffee shops – are confronted with a rising customer segment: customers who use them for work. Prior research is divided on this trend: customer-workers are seen either as a source of added value or a major threat to third places. Relying on a multi-method, qualitative study, we investigate the strategic implications of the rise of customer-workers in third places. We extend prior research by considering customer-workers as a new and valuable segment, with its specific motivations and practices. Building on the co-constitution of practices and places, we show that the rise of the customer-worker segment has fostered market differentiation. We identify four types of third places (archetypal, status quo, compromise, and productive) depending on their targeting strategy and their servicescape adaptation. We delineate how customer-workers transform third places’ value proposition and bring challenges to each type. Specifically, we show that status quo third places are most prone to customer conflicts while compromise third places generate managerial struggles. In contrast, productive third places adapt their servicescape to become work accelerators and a source of professional identity for customer-workers. We provide recommendations for managers to overcome conflicts and benefit from this growing customer base.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication and will be published in Journal of Service Research ( The article is protected by copyright and reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. Users may also download and save a local copy of an article accessed in an institutional repository for the user's personal reference.
Publisher Keywords: Third place; productive third place; customer work; servicescape; market differentiation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Business School > Management
Date Deposited: 05 May 2021 10:06
Text - Accepted Version
Download (2MB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login