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Civility Matters

Description: While the proliferation of literature on the subject of growing incivility in society demonstrates the increasing importance given to civility by corporate America, there has been little academic investigation of the concept. The limited number of academic studies on civility reveals immense negative consequences for uncivil behavior. One question for marketers of businesses is whether lack of civility among front-end personnel can negatively influence sales. This dissertation is an attempt to fill this research gap by exploring responses to uncivil behavior under the theoretical framework of attribution theory. Using the CDSII scale based on attribution theory, experimental research design was used with current civil and uncivil behavior by the store employees and past experiences (positive, negative, and no-experience) with the store as stimulus. The consumers' perception of civility, attributions and behavioral intentions were measured and used as dependent variables. The results of the experiment showed that when a customer discerns employee behavior to be uncivil, the customer's perception of the level of the ability of the employee to control his own behavior decreases. The results of the study enhance the knowledge of two important consumer behaviors, namely complaining and switching behaviors by empirically studying their antecedents in a particular market interaction context. The results imply that it is important to eliminate or minimize any experience that the customer may construe as negative at a store. If practitioners can work towards eliminating or decreasing certain attributions of consumers, they can reduce the switching behaviors and thus impact customer retention rates and future sales. Though this study contributes to marketing theory and provides vital insights to practitioners, this study is but a starting point for further examination of the role of civility in consumer behavior and decision making.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Vahie, Archna
Partner: UNT Libraries