Researcher finds companies' religious affiliation can buffer negative reactions

August 07, 2014

While companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are at the forefront of debate over the religious rights of employers, a new study by a Grand Valley State University researcher shows religious affiliation can safeguard companies against negative reactions to store policies. The findings were published in the Journal of Services Marketing.

The research, led by Kelly Cowart, assistant professor of marketing at Grand Valley State University, examines the effect of a firm's religious association on customer perceptions of the firm, especially when a service failure occurs. A service failure is defined as limited hours of operation or a temporary store closing.

Cowart said the current findings indicate that religious affiliations may buffer against some of the negative fallout that ensues in the wake of a service failure, as consumers do not penalize such firms as heavily as those without an affiliation. "More importantly, the findings suggest that a religious affiliation can garner favor even when the religion is not the dominant religion in society," she said.

Two experimental studies were conducted in which participants assumed the role of a customer visiting a restaurant for the first time. In study one, the customer either ate a meal at the restaurant or could not eat a meal due to the restaurant's closing for an annual holy day. In study two, the restaurant is closed for weekly religious worship rather than an annual holy day.

"Results from both studies revealed that customers are more likely to forgive firms when service failures are associated with religion, regardless of attitudes toward the religious group," said Cowart. "The results were similar no matter what religion was used in the scenarios: Christianity, Judaism or Islam."
-end-
Edward Ramirez, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Texas at El Paso, and Michael K. Brady, chair of the Department of Marketing at Florida State University, co-authored the study.

For more information, contact Kelly Cowart at (616) 331-7304 or cowartk@gvsu.edu.

Grand Valley State University

Related Religion Articles from Brightsurf:

How religion can hamper economic progress
Study from Bocconi University on impact of antiscientific curricula of Catholic schools on accumulation of human capital in France during the 2nd Industrial Revolution could hold lessons on impact of religion on technological progress today.

CU Denver study looks into the connection between religion and equal pay
Traci Sitzmann, an Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Denver Business School, and Elizabeth Campbell, an Assistant Professor at the University of Minnesota, provide empirical evidence and an explanation into why religion perpetuates the gender wage gap.

How religion can heighten or help with financial stress
Researchers found that some people experience financial stress due, in part, to their religion's demands on their time and money.

Religion associated with HPV vaccination rate for college women
A survey of female college students finds 25% had not been vaccinated for HPV and religion may be a contributing factor.

Rise of religion pre-dates Incas at Lake Titicaca
An ancient group of people made ritual offerings to supernatural deities near the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, about 500 years earlier than the Incas, according to an international team of researchers.

Sociologists study the impact religion has on child development
Do children raised by religious parents have better social and psychological development than those raised in non-religious homes?

Research: Religion affects consumer choices on specialty foods
People with strong religious beliefs are more likely to buy fat-free, sugar-free or gluten-free foods than natural or organic foods, according to new research that could influence the marketing of those specialty food products.

Drug use, religion explain 'reverse gender gap' on marijuana
Women tend to be more conservative than men on political questions related to marijuana.

UTSA researcher studies the impact religion has on sleep quality
Christopher Ellison, in The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Department of Sociology, Terrence D.

Some black and Latino Christians rely on religion for healing
Christians who are comparatively well-represented in the medical field, like Korean-Americans, understand the relationship between faith and health differently than those who are not, like African-Americans and Latinos.

Read More: Religion News and Religion Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.