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PhD Bursary Competition: Persistent complainers

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Queen Margaret University (QMU) is currently offering a fully funded PhD bursary [BUR16-02] on complainant characteristics. Details of the bursary competition for the Centre for Applied Social Sciences are available here.

About the topic:

The literature on consumer complaint behaviour (CCB) is dominated by attempts to explain why and in what circumstances consumers choose to voice their complaints. Hirschman (1971) famously described potential consumer responses to sub-standard service delivery as a choice between ‘exit’, ‘voice’, and ‘loyalty’. Another strand of consumer complaint research is concerned with assessing consumer satisfaction with service recovery processes once consumers have chosen to voice a complaint. In this literature, the guiding theoretical framework has been Lind and Tyler’s (1988) theory of procedural justice.

To date, however, there has been little attention paid to what happens after failed service recovery efforts, particularly in relation to consumer decision-making about whether or not to refer a complaint to a third party independent complaint handler, such as an ombudsman. The literature has also neglected to explore why some consumers persist with their complaints through several stages of an ombudsman’s complaints process, while others do not. This proposed research would investigate this under explored aspect of consumer complaint behaviour: why do only some dissatisfied consumers refer their complaint for external adjudication? And why are some consumers more persistent in pursuing these concerns?

The research would therefore seek to explore the motivations and characteristics of four groups of complaining consumers:

  • ‘committed complainers’ (who are dissatisfied with a business’ response and have chosen to refer a complaint to a third party);
  • ‘exiting complainers’ (who are dissatisfied with a business’ response and have chosen not to refer a complaint to a third party);
  • ‘persistent complainers’ (who are dissatisfied with the ombudsman’s first stage response and refer their complaint to the second stage); and
  • ‘fatigued complainers’ (who are dissatisfied with the ombudsman’s first stage response but chose not to refer their complaint to the second stage).

This would suit someone would a strong academic background looking for a career change or someone looking for a career break. There would be an opportunity to amend the focus of the project within this broad them depending on the interest of the candidate.

The closing date for applications is Friday 1st April 2016.

Contact:

Chris Gill, email cgill@qmu.ac.uk

 

 

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