Date of Award
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Dr. Michael K. Brady
Dr. Yany Gregoire
Dr. Brian Rutherford
This study is the first to examine the effects of firm-induced relationship termination on customer rejection perceptions and firm-related outcome behaviors. A research model is developed that focuses on several key issues with respect to the post-termination process. First, the study explores how direct versus indirect termination styles influence a consumer’s feelings of relational evaluation. The author hypothesizes that indirect termination strategies lead to lower levels of rejection upon the dissolution of the relationship. Second, the author examines how the level of perceived rejection experienced by customers affects their subsequent emotions. Specifically, as a result of this rejection, customers may experience betrayal or yearning for the lost relationship. Third, the moderating effect of emotional attachment on the emotions that are present following rejection is examined, with results showing that an increased sense of attachment leads to greater feelings of betrayal as well as yearning. Finally, as a result of these emotions, the study sheds light on how customers behave upon being rejected; namely, whether they choose to seek revenge or attempt to reconcile their relationship with the firm. From an academic perspective, this is the first study in the marketing literature to examine the downstream effects of firm-induced termination and, in so doing, to apply the concept of rejection to a consumer-based context. From a managerial perspective, the study uncovers many issues associated with the practice of customer relationship termination.