|dc.description.abstract||Service failure and recovery is the topic of this thesis, with a focus on strategic alliance settings. There is little research on consumer responses to service failure events in settings that involve multiple organizations in the service provision. That is despite the fact that in the past decade many service firms have committed significant resources to operational aspects of collaborative business arrangements such as strategic alliances. This research aims to address the lack of service failure/recovery research in settings other than the currently prevalent individual service provider-consumer setting. At the same time it attends to the paucity of alliance research on consumers in, and their evaluation of, alliance entities. Drawing on organizational justice theory as a theoretical framework, this thesis adapts, extends, and tests in an airline alliance setting a model of organizational justice, recently proposed by Cropanzano and colleagues (2001). Consequently, considerable insights into consumer responses to service failure events in strategic alliance settings were gained.
The thesis consisted of three major studies. In the first study, the in-depth interviewing technique was employed with 22 informants to 1) explore consumer responses to service failure events in airline alliance settings, 2) identify factors that influence these responses, and 3) assess the applicability of the proposed model of organizational justice in an alliance setting. Findings indicated that consumer responses differed significantly, depending on which alliance entity was evaluated. Consumers' identification with a particular airline (social identity), the mood they are in prior the service encounter with alliance entities (pre-consumption mood), and which alliance airline caused the service failure (locus of service failure) emerged as important factors influencing consumer responses. Results also provided initial support for the proposed model. Study 2 examined the impact of pre-consumption mood (positive versus negative), interactional (high versus low) and distributive justice (comparison of the outcome of others: better versus unknown) (manipulated), and social identity (strong versus weak) (measured) on consumer evaluations of, and behaviour towards, three distinct alliance entities (home carrier, partner airline, alliance). The 2x2x2x3 mixed factorial design used a student sample (n=241), randomly allocated to one of eight treatment conditions. Repeated measures MANOVA was used to analyse the results. Findings showed 1) main effects for interactional justice and entity that were further clarified by an interaction effect of interactional justice and entity, 2) a main effect for social identity, and 3) an interaction effect of pre-consumption mood, distributive justice, and entity. Building on the results of Study 2, the third major study utilized a 2x2x2x3 mixed factorial design that tested the impact of social identity strength (strong versus weak), locus of service failure (home carrier versus partner airline), and social accounts (excuse versus apology) (manipulated) on consumer evaluations and behavioural intentions of the three alliance entities (home carrier, partner airline, alliance). Furthermore, the model of organizational justice in a multiple service provider setting was tested. A sample of business travellers (n=200) was randomly assigned to one of eight treatment conditions. Results were analysed using repeated measures MANOVA and multiple regression analysis. Findings identified three main effects for social identity, locus of service failure and entity that were further clarified by two interaction effects: 1) social identity and entity, and 2) locus of service failure and entity. A consumer's strong identification with the home carrier resulted in greater satisfaction and more favourable intentions towards the home carrier than both the partner airline and the alliance. In contrast, a consumer weakly identifying with the home carrier was more satisfied with and had more favourable intentions towards the home carrier than the partner airline but not the alliance. Furthermore, if the home carrier caused the service failure it was rated significantly lower than the partner airline in terms of event fairness but higher for in terms of global fairness, satisfaction, and behavioural intentions. Similarly, the partner airline was rated significantly higher than the alliance in terms of event fairness, while the alliance received significantly higher behavioural intention ratings. In contrast, if the service failure was caused by the partner airline, consumers perceived the partner airline significantly less fair at the event and global level, and rated it significantly lower in terms of satisfaction and behavioural intentions than the home carrier and the alliance. Finally, study results provided support for the proposed model of organizational justice in a multiple service provider setting. The thesis made several theoretical contributions. To the researcher's knowledge, this was the first investigation of the impact of service failure events on consumer responses in an alliance. It was also the first study that identified factors that influence consumer responses to service failures in alliances. Finally, Cropanzano and colleagues' (2001) work was extended beyond a single organization setting.||en_US