Service Mega-disruptions: A Conceptual Model and Research Agenda
Purpose This paper aims to formally conceptualize service mega-disruptions as any far-reaching and unforeseen general environmental stressor or threat that impacts a service organization’s ability to provide a desired level of service. The authors differentiate sudden large-scale general environmental threats from traditional service failures in scope and scale of impact via number of customers and sectors affected and duration and speed of the disruption.
Design/methodology/approach This paper draws from service recovery theory to build a conceptual model of service mega-disruptions. The resulting conceptual model maps service failure recovery strategies against a service mega-disruption recovery approach to examine consumer response to changes in service value. This work further articulates additional research needs including conceptualization, measurement and methods as traditional drivers of service recovery and the value of the service experience change in response to service mega-disruptions.
Findings This work proposes a research agenda to investigate whether service mega-disruptions can bypass the need for service recovery due to a consumer self-moderating process. As past research shows, the less control a service provider has over a failure, the more customers attribute fault to the situation and transfer blame away from an organization. This paper suggests that this self-moderating process disrupts the need for service providers to court forgiveness for a failure with perceptions of similarity and controllability providing an alternate pathway to customer forgiveness. Similarly, it is suggested that service mega-disruptions play a role in transforming service ecosystems into tighter, more contractual systems with less agency for service providers and poorer ability to adjust to market conditions. The duration and longevity of effects on service providers’ control, agency and ability to adjust following a service mega-disruption must be researched further.
Originality/value This paper builds theory to develop a conceptual model of service mega-disruptions and their role in customer engagement and reshaping the service ecosystem. This paper culminates in the proposition of a research agenda that aims to build research capacity among services marketing scholars as service providers’ coordination and market conditions are challenged by service mega-disruptions.