[We’re pleased to welcome author Holger Roschk of the Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt, Klagenfurt, Austria. Roschk recently published an article in the Journal of Service Research entitled “Compensation Revisited: A Social Resource Theory Perspective on Offering a Monetary Resource after a Service Failure,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Roschk reflects on the inspiration for conducting this research:]
One of the many propositions by social resource theory comprises that people assign different meanings to the same action. Being a great fan of mafia movies, this idea intrigued me as it nicely reflects the popular “kiss of death” metaphor. While a kiss is usually considered as something positive, it can also — as portrayed in these very special movie situations mean that a person has fallen in disgrace.
Fascinated by this idea, we wanted to see if complainants assign different meanings to an act of service failure compensation. In service recovery research, social resource theory has been employed in promising ways such as explaining the situational desirability of recovery efforts. Accordingly, it seemed logical to take the next step and see if varying the properties of one and the same resource—in our case money—impacts recovery effectiveness.
With this purpose in mind, we also had to deal with a couple of challenges. One of them was the above mentioned issue that people attach different meanings to the same action. It is not reported in the article, but it was quite interesting. Accidentally, in one of our tests we manipulated the compensation act in such a way that respondents seemed to assign a negative meaning, eventually leading to obstructive effects which was exactly the contrary of what we wanted to achieve.
People often talk about money in terms of “money is money—so why should one care about how it is given?” Finding that complainants actually do care about how they are compensated in a recovery situation is an interesting new perspective for practitioners and researchers alike. Practitioners in particular learn about an outcome relevant property allowing to facilitate recovery outcomes without additional monetary costs. Further, they learn about an interesting side effect. Specifically, we observed that handing over the money in a personal and tangible way can be used to increase monetary returns to the firm in the form of tipping and cross-buying.
With regards to the research community, we hope that future scholars also draw on social resource theory in order to broaden our understanding of service failure and recovery, especially as SRT comprises many more propositions not yet considered.