Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 552–564 | Cite as

Individual differences in perceptions of service failure and recovery: the role of race and discriminatory bias

  • Thomas L. BakerEmail author
  • Tracy Meyer
  • James D. Johnson
Original Empirical Research


This article investigates the role of contextual cues in the evaluation of a service failure. Empirical data demonstrates that although discrimination is a factor in the evaluation of a service failure for black (vs. white) customers, contextual cues also play a role in the evaluation of the encounter. When a black customer experiences a service failure, the failure will be evaluated more severely when no other black customers are present. In addition, the context of the event differentially affects the negative emotions generated by the service failure and results in racially driven differences in the amount of remuneration perceived as necessary to successfully recover from the failure. The implication is that when serving customers, the race of both the customer and other customers can provide service providers with information relative to the appropriate service recovery effort to implement.


Service failure Service recovery Discrimination Context effects 



The authors gratefully acknowledge funding received for this research from the Mini-Grant program at Clemson University.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas L. Baker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tracy Meyer
    • 2
  • James D. Johnson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Marketing, College of Business and Behavioral SciencesClemson UniversityClemsonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marketing, Cameron School of BusinessUniversity of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Psychology, College of Arts and SciencesUniversity of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmingtonUSA

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