You Say You Want a Revolution? Drawing on Social Movement Theory to Motivate Transformative Change

Personal well-being of service employees and others is declining, yet well-being is likely to influence on-the-job productivity. Workplace wellness programming (WWP) is prevalent among service organizations, but is controversial with critics questioning the appropriateness and efficacy of employer involvement in personal health. To understand how employers engage employees in personal wellness, we conducted a qualitative field study of WWP in 10 diverse organizations. We found lower employee engagement and higher resentment in firms that relied primarily on wellness training, incentives, and impersonal communications. Employee engagement was higher in firms that collaborated with wellness-minded employees to (1) tap into long-standing, deeply held belief systems to forge an inspirational wellness ideology, (2) leverage social capital to recruit participants and resources, and (3) modify the physical environment to signal the importance of healthful behaviors and to reduce obstacles to healthful choices. The three strategies are pillars of social movement (SM) organization. Drawing on the rich SM literature and our fieldwork, we developed and tested an SM-inspired model for cultural and behavioral change. The findings have implications for internal marketing and social marketing theory and for managers seeking to create a culture of health and improve employee productivity and effectiveness in serving customers.


internal marketing  social movement  social marketing  personal well-being  workplace wellness 


Ann M. Mirabito and Leonard L. Berry (2015). You Say You Want a Revolution? Drawing on Social Movement Theory to Motivate Transformative Change. Journal of Service Research, 18(3), Pages 336-350.



Ann M. Mirabito
Leonard L. Berry

Journal of Service Research | 2015

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