Service recovery in higher education: Does national culture play a role?

Thorsten Gruber, Ilma Nur Chowdhury, Alexander E. Reppel

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It is now well recognised that an effective service-recovery system plays a crucial role in service organisations. However, the importance of such systems has not yet been acknowledged by the higher-education industry. Given the need for more research on service-recovery expectations of students, this exploratory study attempts to shed light on what students believe to be the desirable attributes of professors during recovery encounters. To investigate how national culture influences student expectations during such encounters, 40 students from the UK and Bangladesh were interviewed and 210 questionnaires were completed by students. Using the semi-standardised laddering interviewing technique in combination with Kano questionnaires, the study provides an in-depth insight into the qualities and behaviours that students expect professors to portray during service-recovery encounters. The research reveals that the key attributes desired by both groups of students include being approachable, listening actively, showing empathy and providing an explanation. Among a wide range of benefits, students link these attributes to enhanced teacher-student relationship, better academic performance and at a more abstract level, to desired end-states such as harmony and well-being. © 2011 Westburn Publishers Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1261-1293
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number11-12
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Cultural differences
  • Educational services
  • Kano
  • Laddering
  • Service failure and recovery


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