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Causes and consequences of grudge‐holding in service relationships

Matthew P. Bunker (College of Business Administration, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA)
Dwayne Ball (University of Nebraska‐Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 22 February 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to place grudge‐holding as a theoretical construct, measure it, and empirically place it in a nomological net and, additionally to discuss the consequences of grudge‐holding in this research.

Design/methodology/approach

A 2 × 2 scenario‐based experiment was performed using 320 subjects, approximately 80 people per condition. The size of the exit barrier (high/low) and the effectiveness of the service recovery (good/poor) were varied between each scenario to determine changes in grudge‐holding.

Findings

Some consequences of grudge‐holding are retaliation desire and communication avoidance. Although trust was tested in this research, and is still an important relationship variable, the results show that loss of trust cannot explain these outcomes in the presence of grudge‐holding.

Research limitations/implications

The results are limited by the fact that they are based on scenarios rather than real events. As such, they should be interpreted with some caution, and confirmed by later studies using cross‐sectional or natural experimental data.

Practical implications

A grudge‐holding item should be included in routine customer satisfaction surveys, especially since grudge‐holders are less likely to initiate communication. If grudge‐holding is suspected, this paper suggests steps that managers can take to defuse grudges.

Originality/value

The results of this research confirm that grudge‐holding is an important construct of service relationships. Understanding grudge‐holding is important because it predicts the desire for retaliation and the desire to avoid communication, both of which can increase expenses for the firm, and eventually lead to a mass exit of customers.

Keywords

Citation

Bunker, M.P. and Ball, D. (2008), "Causes and consequences of grudge‐holding in service relationships", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 37-47. https://doi.org/10.1108/08876040810851941

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited