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Exploring cultural differences in customer forgiveness behavior

Haithem Zourrig (Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Jean‐Charles Chebat (HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada)
Roy Toffoli (Université du Québec à Montréal, Montréal, Canada)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 7 August 2009



The purpose of this paper is to provide a deeper insight on the psychological mechanism of customer forgiveness viewed from a cross cultural perspective.


Drawing on the cognitive appraisal theory, this paper relates forgiveness cognitive, emotional and motivational patterns with differences in cultural values' orientations.


The insights from this paper suggest that idiocentric customers are more likely to adopt problem solving strategies when they decide to forgive, whereas allocentric ones tend to regulate their emotional responses to their environment such as expressing benevolence and goodwill, as they are more sensitive to maintaining connectedness within group members.

Research limitations/implications

Albeit conceptual and exploratory in nature, this paper is intended as a beginning for further empirical validation and theoretical refinement. The paper contends that forgiveness is a dynamic, interactive process that should be investigated with different sequential orders. Furthermore, as customer forgiveness is related to time, longitudinal studies are more appropriate to test the proposed model.

Practical implications

Firms serving international markets as well as multiethnic ones would have advantage to understand cultural differences in shaping customer forgiveness. This is relevant to conceive efficient marketing strategies aiming at managing interpersonal conflicts with wronged customers and promoting benevolence and goodwill.


Little is known about customer forgiveness. This paper adds a new insight by examining cultural effects on forgiveness process, allowing for a more comprehensive view of customer forgiveness triggers.



Zourrig, H., Chebat, J. and Toffoli, R. (2009), "Exploring cultural differences in customer forgiveness behavior", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 404-419.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited