Customer Complaint Behavior: An Examination of Cultural vs. Situational Factors


  • Jeffrey G. Blodgett University of Houston-Victoria
  • Aysen Bakir Illinois State University
  • Alok Saklani Apeejay School of Management
  • Manisha Bachheti Apeejay School of Management
  • Shilpa Bhaskar Apeejay School of Management


The purpose of this research is to assess the extent to which cross-national differences in customer complaint behavior are due to cultural vs. situational factors. Previous research indicates that in collectivist and high-uncertainty avoidance cultures, dissatisfied customers are unlikely to complain to the seller, and instead are more likely to silently exit (taking their business elsewhere) and warn others about the offending company. Other evidence, though, indicates that culture has only a minor impact on customer complaint behavior and that situational factors (i.e., retail policies) better account for these differences. This is an important issue, as effective recovery management first requires that dissatisfied customers voice their complaints to the seller. In order to gain a
better understanding of this issue, three studies were conducted: two qualitative and one empirical. Collectively, the results indicate that the decision to voice a complaint and seek redress is influenced more by situational variables than by cultural factors. Given that recovery management has been shown to increase market share and profitability, these findings should be of value to all marketers.




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