Service recovery research remains conflicted in its understanding of consumers' recovery expectations and of why similar goods or service failures may lead to different recovery expectations. The authors argue that this conflict results from the assumption that consumer recovery expectations are monolithic and largely homogeneous, driven mainly by behavioral, relational, or contextual stimuli. Instead, recovery scenarios involving high-involvement (i.e., self-relevant) goods and service failures may activate closely held, identity-related cultural models that, though ultimately applied to regain balance (a foundational schema), differ according to their sociocultural heritage and create a range of unique consumer recovery preferences. The authors empirically identify three embodied cultural models—relational, oppositional, and utilitarian—that consumers apply to goods or service failures. Furthermore, the authors discuss implications for service recovery research and services marketing practice and introduce adaptive service recovery diagnostics that enable providers to identify and respond to consumers' varying recovery preferences.
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