Status, National Culture and Customers’ Propensity to Complain

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People’s ability to express their voice in different situation is an important facet of their quality of life. This study examines the relationship between social status, cultural characteristics and customers’ voice behavior in multiple cultures. We hypothesized that social status would be positively related to customers’ voice expression. The cultural dimensions of power distance and uncertainty avoidance were expected to affect that behavior and to moderate the status–voicing relationship. Analysis of data concerning 8,479 customers from 12 countries showed that, as expected, customers with high status tended to register more service failures and to complain more frequently than customers of lower social status. All three social status distinctions explored in this study (gender, education, and age) correlated negatively with formal complaint, but only age correlated negatively with informal complaint. In addition, the two cultural dimensions had the expected negative effect on intention to complain, and moderated the relationship between social status and intention to complain. Theoretical contributions and applied implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-330
Number of pages22
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Culture
  • Customer complaints
  • Service recovery
  • Social status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences


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