Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

Major Professor

Dr. Sarah F. Gardial

Committee Members

Dr. Tom Ladd, Dr. John T. Mentzer, Dr. Robert B. Woodruff


Practitioners who want to strengthen their market position and avoid greater government regulation would benefit from research that helps them to effectively resolve the problems experienced by their customers. Unfortunately, research efforts to explore, understand, and ultimately predict the responses of dissatisfied customers have been sporadic and have failed to lead to a sustained program of research. This problem is due in part because classification and taxonomical issues have not been sufficiently resolved. Without a theoretically-supported method to categorize and differentiate the various ways that customers respond to dissatisfaction, research into this phenomenon will continue to be slow and erratic. In an attempt to resolve this problem, a new taxonomy to classify the coping tactics of dissatisfied customers is proposed and tested within this dissertation.

The theory of goal-directed behavior, as conceptualize by Bagozzi and Dholakia (1999), is used to show that dissatisfaction-related goals can moderate the responses of dissatisfied customers. These goals are then used to categorize dissatisfied customer responses into a new taxonomy comprised of 20 dissatisfaction coping tactics. Four scales were developed and administered to a student sample to measure the causal relationship between the dissatisfaction-related goals (prevention, accommodation, redress, and retaliation) and the dissatisfaction-related coping tactics employed by customers. Findings are interpreted to support the existence of the dissatisfaction-related goals of prevention, accommodation, and retaliation, but there is insufficient support for the goal of redress.

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