When does uncertainty avoidance promote customer-to-customer intercultural service encounters?

Nabil Ghantous (College of Business and Economics, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar)
Amro A. Maher (The University of South Dakota, Vermillion, South Dakota, USA)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Publication date: 13 May 2019



Previous literature has reported inconsistent findings regarding the impact of uncertainty avoidance (UA) on intercultural experiences. This includes positive, negative and insignificant associations between UA on the one hand and cosmopolitanism or comfort with intercultural service encounters (ICSE) on the other hand. The purpose of this paper is to participate in addressing these contradictions. More specifically, this study examines how UA affects expatriate cosmopolitanism as well as approach of service environments patronized by local customers by introducing two moderators: national identification and perceived discrimination.


The authors propose a conceptual model based on the results of a literature review. The authors test it with survey data collected from Indian expatriates (n=341) living in Qatar, using structural equation modeling.


The results corroborate the moderating role of national identification. Under low identification, expatriate consumers engage in a prospective form of uncertainty management, leading them to adopt a more cosmopolitan stance. Under high identification, their uncertainty plays an inhibitory role, reducing their cosmopolitanism and negatively affecting their approach of service places patronized by local consumers. Perceived discrimination did not moderate the impact of UA as expected on either cosmopolitanism or approach.


This paper extends the prior research on UA by testing how two moderators could activate either a prospective or an inhibitory form of uncertainty. It also contributes to research on ICSE, by focusing on customer-to-customer interactions in a multicultural marketplace.



Ghantous, N. and Maher, A. (2019), "When does uncertainty avoidance promote customer-to-customer intercultural service encounters?", International Marketing Review, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 445-463. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-09-2017-0178

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