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An exploratory study of the contextual stability of SERVQUAL amongst three retail clusters in far North Queensland

Darren Lee‐Ross (School of Business, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia)

Journal of Place Management and Development

ISSN: 1753-8335

Article publication date: 14 March 2008




This study seeks to assess the psychometric properties of SERVQUAL, a prevalent instrument for measuring service quality within the “place” context of a shopping mall. Since, appearing in the management and marketing literature, this instrument has proved popular amongst researchers and practitioners. However, evidence supporting or refuting the tenets of the “gap” model and the dimensionality of the questionnaire is equivocal.


Modified versions of the questionnaire were used as a basis for interviewing customers of three retail clusters in the region of far North Queensland (n=782).


Analysis of data failed to support the generic five‐factor structure of service quality amongst these retail outlets. Service quality was perceived to be context‐specific and less multi‐dimensional than contended by the original SERVQUAL authors. Furthermore, little support was found for the concurrent validity of the instrument. Moreover, notions of service quality may have been confused due to the separate perspectives of three retail clusters within the overall context of a shopping mall. The multi‐dimensional nature of intangible service quality and dynamic expectations of customers and clients therefore presents significant challenges for place managers.

Research limitations/implications

A practical decision was made to maximize the generalizability of the research by aggregating individual retail outlets into three overall clusters. Some measure of internal validity may therefore have been sacrificed.

Practical implications

It is recommended that future research begins with 360‐degree qualitative analyses of contexts from which new constructs and instruments may be developed.


The retail industry in far North Queensland is a previously under researched area in terms of the SERVQUAL instrument. The new factor structures found for clusters should improve service‐quality management and impact on tourism‐related business in the region.



Lee‐Ross, D. (2008), "An exploratory study of the contextual stability of SERVQUAL amongst three retail clusters in far North Queensland", Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 1 No. 1, pp. 46-61.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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