Application of fairness theory to service failures and service recovery

McColl-Kennedy, J. R. and Sparks, B. A. (2003) Application of fairness theory to service failures and service recovery. Journal of Service Research, 5 3: 251-266. doi:10.1177/1094670502238918

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Author McColl-Kennedy, J. R.
Sparks, B. A.
Title Application of fairness theory to service failures and service recovery
Journal name Journal of Service Research   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1094-6705
Publication date 2003
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/1094670502238918
Volume 5
Issue 3
Start page 251
End page 266
Total pages 16
Editor R. T. Rust
Place of publication London
Publisher Sage Publications
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subject C1
350100 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability
720401 Marketing
1499 Other Economics
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.
Keyword Accountability
Counterfactual thinking
Fairness theory
Justice theories
Moral principles
Service failure
Service recovery
Situational effort
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Excellence in Research Australia (ERA) - Collection
2004 Higher Education Research Data Collection
UQ Business School Publications
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Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 5 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Tue, 14 Aug 2007, 19:11:59 EST