Consumer misbehaviour during professional service encounters

Keeffe, Dominique Alexi (2010) Consumer misbehaviour during professional service encounters. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


To date, consumer behaviour research is still over-focused on the functional rather than the dysfunctional. Both empirical and anecdotal evidence suggest that service organisations are burdened with the concept of consumer sovereignty, while consumers freely flout the ‘rules’ of social exchange and behave in deviant and dysfunctional ways. Further, the current scope of consumer misbehaviour research suggests that the phenomenon has principally been studied in the context of economically-focused exchange. This limits our current understanding of consumer misbehaviour to service encounters that are more transactional than relational in nature.

Consequently, this thesis takes a Social Exchange approach to consumer misbehaviour and reports a three-stage multi-method study that examined the nature and antecedents of consumer misbehaviour in professional services. It addresses the following broad research question:

What is the nature of consumer misbehaviour during professional service encounters?

Study One initially explored the nature of consumer misbehaviour in professional service encounters using critical incident technique (CIT) within 38 semi-structured in-depth interviews. The study was designed to develop a better understanding of what constitutes consumer misbehaviour from a service provider’s perspective.

Once the nature of consumer misbehaviour had been qualified, Study Two focused on developing and refining calibrated items that formed Guttman-like scales for two consumer misbehaviour constructs: one for the most theoretically-central type of consumer misbehaviour identified in Study One (i.e. refusal to participate) and one for the most well-theorised and salient type of consumer misbehaviour (i.e. verbal abuse) identified in Study One to afford a comparison. This study used Rasch modelling to investigate whether it was possible to calibrate the escalating severity of a series of decontextualised behavioural descriptors in a valid and reliable manner. Creating scales of calibrated items that capture the variation in severity of different types of consumer misbehaviour identified in Study One allowed for a more valid and reliable investigation of the antecedents of such behaviour.

Lastly, Study Three utilised an experimental design to investigate three key antecedents of consumer misbehaviour: (1) the perceived quality of the service encounter [drawn from Fullerton and Punj’s (1993) model of aberrant consumer behaviour], (2) the violation of consumers’ perceptions of justice and equity [drawn from Rousseau’s (1989) Psychological Contract Theory], and (3) consumers’ affective responses to exchange [drawn from Weiss and Cropanzano’s (1996) Affective Events Theory]. Investigating three key antecedents of consumer misbehaviour confirmed the newly-developed understanding of the nature of consumer misbehaviour during professional service encounters.

Combined, the results of the three studies suggest that consumer misbehaviour is characteristically different within professional services. The most salient and theoretically-central behaviours can be measured using increasingly severe decontextualised behavioural descriptors. Further, increasingly severe forms of consumer misbehaviour are likely to occur as a response to consumer anger at low levels of interpersonal service quality. These findings have a range of key implications for both marketing theory and practice.

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ID Code: 43700
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Russell-Bennett, Rebekah & Drennan, Judy
Keywords: consumer misbehaviour, dysfunctional customer behaviour, deviance, services marketing, professional services, social exchange theory, affective events theory, psychological contract theory, perceived justice, emotion, critical incident technique, Rasch modelling, structural equation modelling, experimental design
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 27 Jul 2011 06:46
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2017 14:42

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