Examining Public Hospital Service Failure: The Influence of Service Failure Type, Service Expectations, and Attribution on Consumer Response

Andrea Walton, Margee Hume

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates three independent variables; types of service failure, service expectations, and attribution on postfailure responses in healthcare. A between-subjects 3 × 2 × 2 experimental design using written scenarios was used. The findings demonstrate that customer responses to service failures in hospitals are extensively influenced by the type of service failure, the level of service expectation of the provider, and, to a lesser extent, the controllability of the cause of the failure. Core service failures lead to greater increases in negative responses for satisfaction, emotional, and behavioral responses than supplementary service failure with high service expectations protecting the provider against overall dissatisfaction, negative word-of-mouth, and switching behaviors. Interestingly, perceived high controllability leads to greater dissatisfaction but not to increased negative emotional or behavioral responses. The study applies attribution theory to explain the results. The article concludes with managerial implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)202-221
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Nonprofit and Public Sector Marketing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes



  • attribution
  • core service failure
  • expectations
  • healthcare
  • service failure

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