Application of Fairness Theory to Service Failures and Service Recovery

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Title Application of Fairness Theory to Service Failures and Service Recovery
Author McColl-Kennedy, Janet R.; Sparks, Beverley
Journal Name Journal of Service Research
Editor Roland Rust
Year Published 2003
Place of publication United States
Publisher Sage Publications, Inc.
Abstract This article presents a fairness theory-based conceptual framework for studying and managing consumers' emotions during service recovery attempts. The conceptual framework highlights the central role played by counterfactual thinking and accountability. Findings from five focus groups are also presented to lend further support to the conceptual framework. Essentially, the article argues that a service failure event triggers an emotional response in the consumer, and from here the consumer commences an assessment of the situation, considering procedural justice, interactional justice, and distributive justice elements, while engaging in counterfactual thinking and apportioning accountability. More specifically, the customer assesses whether the service provider could and should have done something more to remedy the problem and how the customer would have felt had these actions been taken. The authors argue that during this process situational effort is taken into account when assessing accountability. When service providers do not appear to exhibit an appropriate level of effort, consumers attribute this to the service provider not caring. This in turn leads to the customer feeling more negative emotions, such as anger and frustration. Managerial implications of the study are discussed.
Peer Reviewed Yes
Published Yes
Publisher URI
Copyright Statement Copyright 2003 Sage Publications. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. First published in Journal of Service Research. This journal is available online:
Volume 5
Issue Number 3
Edition 2003
Page from 251
Page to 266
ISSN 1094-6705
Date Accessioned 2004-03-19
Language en_AU
Research Centre Griffith Institute For Tourism
Subject Marketing and Market Research
Publication Type Journal Articles (Refereed Article)
Publication Type Code c1

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