When others signal what to expect: Cultural biases in online complaining

Sanchayan Sengupta, Wolfgang Jonas Weitzl, Marc Linzmajer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review


Global companies are increasingly confronted with international dissatisfied customers, who voice their discontent about a service failure publicly on social media. In this research, we demonstrate that the interactive virtual presence (IVP) of online bystanders can have a strong impact on complainants’ recovery expectation. More specifically, this influence is dependent on IVP’s valence (positive vs. negative bystander comments), the type of consumption (conspicuous vs. inconspicuous), and complainants’ cultural background (collectivistic vs. individualistic). Results from a quasi-experiment show that when it comes to conspicuous consumption in collectivistic cultures, positive IVP leads to a lower recovery expectation than negative IVP. In individualistic cultures, this effect is however reversed. Furthermore, the results support our theory that after a service failure after inconspicuous consumption, there is no significant difference in recovery expectations following positive vs. negative bystander comments. This effect is constant across both cultures. This research helps marketers to predict the expectations of international online complainants by assessing bystanders’ online engagement. Here, comments supporting or attacking the company are sometimes used as important social cues for complainants.
Original languageEnglish (American)
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2022 AMA Summer Academic Conference
EditorsAndrea Flynn, Ravi Mehta, Cinthia Satornino
Place of PublicationChicago, IL
PublisherAmerican Marketing Association
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-87757-014-1
ISBN (Print)978-0-87757-014-1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event2022 AMA Summer Academic Conference: Light in the Darkness: Marketing’s Role in Driving Positive Change - Chicago, United States
Duration: 12 Aug 202214 Aug 2022


Conference2022 AMA Summer Academic Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

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