To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Intercultural competence and customer facial recognition

Geraldine Rosa Henderson (Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Tracy Rank-Christman (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)
Tiffany Barnett White (University of Illinois, Champaign, Illinois, USA)
Kimberly Dillon Grantham (University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA)
Amy L. Ostrom (Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, USA)
John G. Lynch (Leeds School of Business, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Article publication date: 10 August 2018

Issue publication date: 10 August 2018



Intercultural competence has been found to be increasingly important. The purpose of this paper is to understand how intercultural competence impacts service providers’ ability to recognition faces of both black and white consumers.


Two experiments were administered to understand how intercultural competence impacts recognition of black and white consumer faces.


The authors find that the more intercultural competence that respondents report with blacks, the better they are at distinguishing between black regular customers and black new shoppers in an experiment. The authors find no impact of intercultural competence on the ability of respondents to differentiate between white consumers. These findings hold for respondents in the USA and South Africa.

Research limitations/implications

One limitation of this research is that the studies were conducted in a controlled lab setting. Thus, one could imagine additional noise from a true consumer setting might increase the effects of these results. Another limitation is the focus on only black and white consumer faces. In this paper, the authors focused on these two races, specifically to keep the factorial design as simplified as possible.


The implications of this research are important given that the ability of employees’ recognizing customer faces can affect customers’ day-to-day interactions in the marketplace.



Henderson, G.R., Rank-Christman, T., White, T.B., Grantham, K.D., Ostrom, A.L. and Lynch, J.G. (2018), "Intercultural competence and customer facial recognition", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 570-580.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited