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A transactional model of forgiveness in the service failure context: a customer‐driven approach

Yelena Tsarenko (Department of Marketing, Monash University, Caulfield East, Australia)
Dewi Rooslani Tojib (Department of Marketing, Monash University, Caulfield East, Australia)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 2 August 2011




The concept of forgiveness has received significant attention in the fields of philosophy and psychology. However, little is known about the application of this concept in the business domain. To address this deficiency, this paper aims to conceptualise forgiveness as a customer coping strategy in the context of service failure incidents. Specifically, deriving from both theories of emotion and coping, this article proposes a conceptual framework of consumer forgiveness in service encounters.


A critical synthesis of the literature on forgiveness, service failure, and service recovery was conducted to generate a conceptual exploration of the role of forgiveness in the business domain.


While previous consumer behaviour studies have explored the emotional and behavioural states of consumers after service incidents, they overlooked one critical intrinsic psychological aspect which has a long‐lasting effect on service outcomes: consumer forgiveness. Thus, the main focus of this study is to devise a conceptual framework of consumer forgiveness which highlights several stages through which consumers progress in their forgiveness process. A range of situational and contingent factors that may facilitate the consumer forgiveness process are also identified and rationalised in the model.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers of consumer behaviour will benefit from understanding the roots of forgiveness and how this complex process determines and influences the psychological state of consumers after service incidents. The proposed transactional model of forgiveness serves as a starting point to explore this virtually ignored concept in the services marketing domain. Empirical studies employing various research methodologies are needed to support this model.


This paper is one of the first attempts to integrate the concept of forgiveness from the field of psychology into consumer behaviour research by highlighting the role of forgiveness as a coping strategy in the business domain.



Tsarenko, Y. and Rooslani Tojib, D. (2011), "A transactional model of forgiveness in the service failure context: a customer‐driven approach", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 381-392.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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