Attributions on dissatisfying service encounters: A cross‐cultural comparison between Canadian and PRC consumers

Patrick S. POON, Michael K. HUI, Kevin AU

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)


Based on the proposition that deprivation of control is a key instigator of attribution thoughts, this study explores cross‐national variations in consumers' formation and consequences of attributions on dissatisfying service encounters. We hypothesize that variations in the stage of economic development and the cultural dimension of long‐term versus short‐term orientation affect consumers' perceived level of control in and attributions of dissatisfying service encounters, and the relative effects of various attribution dimensions (including locus, controllable‐by‐organization, and stability) on consumers' switching intentions. Results obtained from a cross‐national survey show that compared to PRC consumers, Canadian consumers experience more deprivation of control in dissatisfying service encounters and exhibit stronger self‐serving biases in forming attributions about their dissatisfying service experiences. Moreover, the controllable‐by‐organization dimension (i.e. whether the problems of the service encounter could be controlled by the service firm) is found to have a stronger effect on the switching intentions of Canadian consumers than that of PRC consumers, while the opposite is found for the stability dimension (i.e. whether the same problem would recur in experiences with the service firm). Managerial implications for multinational service firms, particularly in terms of service recovery strategy for Chinese and Western consumers, are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1527-1540
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number11/12
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2004

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Canada
  • China
  • Cross‐cultural studies
  • Service improvements
  • Services


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