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Examining the effects of exit barriers on marketing relationships in the context of service failure and recovery

Matthew P Bunker, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Knowledge of the effects of exit barriers on customer relationships with service providers is limited. Some empirical evidence suggests that moderate exit barriers enhance customer commitment. Some authors have argued; however, that high exit barriers can damage marketing relationships, but little empirical evidence of this exists. This study examines the effect of high exit barriers on a marketing relationship after a service failure and service failure recovery attempt has occurred. ^ Sixteen structured interviews were conducted for the purpose of further understanding the relationships between the constructs in this study as well as to help create scales for some of these constructs. Later an experiment was conducted using 320 subjects that were recruited by the help of several community groups. ^ The key constructs in this study include trust, commitment, powerlessness, grudge holding, illusory control, predictive control, and the desire to retaliate. Trust was measured before and after the service failure to determine what differences exists between firms that have high and low exit barriers even before a service failure occurs. In addition to the experiment, a model was created that illustrates what may happen in a marketing relationship when a service failure occurs. ^ The results indicate that initially, customers trust firms more that have low exit barriers than firms that have high exit barriers. After a good service recovery, customer trust in high exit barrier relationships increased almost to the level of customer trust of high exit barrier firms. After a service failure, customers of high exit barrier firms felt more powerless than customers of low exit barrier firms. ^ The results from this research imply that the strength of exit barriers is an important component of marketing relationships and should be investigated in the future. In addition, the importance of a good service recovery is still important to a marketing relationship, despite the size of the exit barriers. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Marketing

Recommended Citation

Bunker, Matthew P, "Examining the effects of exit barriers on marketing relationships in the context of service failure and recovery" (2003). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3102564.