Cobotic service teams and power dynamics: Understanding and mitigating unintended consequences of human-robot collaboration in healthcare services

Ilana Shanks, Maura L. Scott*, Martin Mende, Jenny van Doorn, Dhruv Grewal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In cobotic service teams, employees and robots collaborate to serve customers. As cobotic teams become more prevalent, a key question arises: How do consumers respond to cobotic teams, as a function of the roles shared by employees and robots (robots in superordinate roles as team leaders and humans in subordinate roles as assistants, or vice versa)? Six studies, conducted in different healthcare settings, show that consumers respond less favorably to robot-led (vs. human-led) teams. In delineating the process underlying these responses, the authors demonstrate that consumers ascribe less power to robot (vs. human) team leaders, which increases consumer anxiety and drives downstream responses through serial mediation. Further examining the power dynamics in cobotic service encounters, the authors identify boundary conditions that help mitigate negative consumer responses (increasing consumers’ power by letting them choose the robot in the service team, leveraging consumers’ power distance beliefs, and reinforcing the robot’s performance capabilities).

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Early online date2-Mar-2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2-Mar-2024


  • Anxiety
  • Cobotic service teams
  • Cobotics
  • Healthcare
  • Power
  • Technology

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