Do service expectations when flying long haul differ between consumers of different nationalities? A Cross Cultural study on four British Commonwealth countries (United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand)
The airline industry plays a major role in today’s global economy (Heracleous, Wirtz, & Pangarkar, 2006; Tiernan et al., 2008). The airline industry is very customer-focused, thus delivering high quality service has become a requirement. However, with recent global and national economic problems, many airlines struggle to merely keep themselves alive. Many have been forced to cut costs and thus services are restricted and standardised. For that reason, it is essential for airline management to verify what its clientele wants and expects as well as what they do not want and expect. It is important for airlines to maintain the essential service items and reduce time and cost spent on the less significant service items while, at the same time, maintaining customer perceptions of their service quality (James J. H. Liou, Hsu, Yeh, & Lin, 2011). Several authors argue that customer expectations are some of the most challenging and important areas for service providers to acquire specific knowledge (Armstrong et al., 1997; Babbar & Koufteros, 2008; Drege, 1991; Sonnenberg, 1991).
Besides only looking at service offerings and what can be improved across markets this research focuses on differences in service quality expectations across countries, continents and cultures. While standardising some services, it is seen as important for airlines to balance the service provision with local needs. Researchers point out that it is a crucial management problem to find out which (if any) of the service elements that should be consistent across the different markets the company operates in, as well as choosing which elements that should be customised and tailored to local needs and competitive dynamics (Hollis, 2010; Lovelock, Patterson, & Wirtz, 2011). Sklair (2002) proposes that the globalised world of today affects several areas of life, including political, economic, social and cultural. Thus, understanding of other cultures has risen to be an important aspect for international companies (House, 2004). Findings from the Global Leadership and Organizational Behavior Effectiveness (GLOBE) study will be implemented for this study. The GLOBE researchers studied approximately 17 000 managers from 951 organisations across 62 societies worldwide (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004). The GLOBE study was designed to expand upon and replicate some dimensions of Hofstede's ‘Culture’s Consequences’ (1980) research (House, Hanges, et al., 2004). This cross-cultural dissertation aims to explore airline service expectations among different country nationals in order to find out if service expectations when flying long haul differ between countries. This research specifically looks at possible differences among some of the British Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom (the UK), Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. The selected countries have been chosen mainly because no relevant studies have been done on these countries, as well as due to the researcher’s interest in the Commonwealth countries and possible differences within this one specific group of countries. Results discussed may be of importance for airlines in order to possibly modify their service offerings to their magnitude of customers. Conclusions are drawn from the results found as well as in light of literature discussed.