E-Service Quality and eWOM: The Moderating Role of Customers’ Risk Orientation and Moral Identity: An Abstract
The study provides a novel attempt to house customer characteristics within a study of eWOM antecedents. Unlike prior research, this study posits that moderating effect of customers’ risk orientation and moral identity bridges the gap in the consumer behaviour literature concerning the boundary conditions of the e-service quality–eWOM relationship. In essence, we investigate the effect of customer perceived e-service quality on eWOM and how this link is impacted by two moderating factors: customers’ risk orientation and moral identity. We collected data through a survey targeting consumers who shop online and reside in the United Kingdom. The survey consisted of five main sections, e-service quality, eWOM, moral identity, risk orientation and customer characteristics. In the survey, participants (N = 217) were asked to answer a series of questions based on their last online shopping experience. We adopted all scales from prior research published in well-established and academic journals. We used eTailQ framework (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2003) to measure e-service quality; eWOM through a four-item scale by Srinivasan, Anderson and Ponnavolu (2002); risk orientation with two dimensions from Westaby and Lowe (2005); and moral identity with the two dimensions (internalization and symbolization) used by Reed, Aquino and Levy (2007).
We found that the direct effect (e-service quality → eWOM) was strongly positive and significant Furthermore, risk orientation is found to be a moderating factor of this relationship meaning that people with higher risk orientation do not engage in positive eWOM activities. This finding suggests that customers who are more inclined to take risk are less likely to be participant with positive eWOM actions. Similarly, the internalization dimension of moral identity significantly moderates the effect of e-service quality on eWOM, showing how at the same level of perceived e-service quality individuals with higher levels of internalization are keener to participate in EWOM activities.
The symbolization dimension returned a non-significant effect on the relationship between e-service quality and eWOM. Surprisingly, symbolization on itself presented a significant direct effect on the action of eWOM. This finding may indicate that people who scored higher on this dimension might provide eWOM despite the influence of any other factors.
Our study contributes to previous literature by introducing a new moderator (moral identity) as a factor influencing the propensity customer has to share their e-service experiences. We also suggest strategies managers can implement to leverage the different dimensions of moral identity to stimulate positive eWOM.