THE IMPACT OF SERVICESCAPES ON THE PRE-CONSUMPTION AUTHENTICITY ASSESSMENTS OF ETHNIC-ORIENTED SERVICES

Open Access
Author:
Wang, Chen-Ya
Graduate Program:
Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
January 31, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Anna S Mattila, Dissertation Advisor
  • Anna S Mattila, Committee Chair
  • Dr Karthik Namasivayam, Committee Member
  • Breffni M Noone, Committee Member
  • Margaret Grace Meloy, Committee Member
  • James Landis Rosenberger, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • authenticity assessments
  • servicescape
  • ethnic-oriented services
Abstract:
Authenticity, typically defined as being genuine, real, or true (Taylor, 1991), plays an essential role in the consumption of both goods and services (Jacknis, 1990; Lowenthal, 1992; Grayson & Martinec, 2004). Consumers think of the objects and services they perceive as authentic as having a deeper meaning and more value than those they see as inauthentic (Carroll & Wheaton, 2009; Frazier et al., 2009). This study investigates customers’ pre-consumption authenticity perceptions and consequent patronage intention, in the context of ethnic oriented services. This study proposes that the servicescape offers customers easily accessible cues based on which they make authenticity assessments. The three key elements of the servicescape--- physical setting, service providers, and other customers, each convey ethnic orientation. Furthermore, the impact of servicescape cues on authenticity perceptions depends on the ethnic group to which a given consumer belongs—whether she/he belongs to a society’s majority ethnic group or to the referent ethnic group. This study’s empirical investigation comprised one pilot study and one main study applying a between-subjects experimental design. The hypotheses were tested in Chinese restaurants in the US. The results suggest that servicescape dimensions can induce pre-consumption authenticity perceptions of service offerings and that the dimensional cues interplay to affect authenticity assessments. A customer’s ethnicity affects how she/he interprets servicescape cues and, therefore, his/her authenticity assessment. Furthermore, perceived authenticity increases patronage intentions among ethnic customers but does so among mainstream customers only when they are already relatively familiar with the ethnic-oriented service. This dissertation contributes to our empirical understanding of authenticity assessments. The findings presented are of both theoretical and practical significance.