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Consumer Trust, Value, And Loyalty In Relational Exchanges

Deepak Sirdeshmukh, Jagdip Singh, Barry Sabol

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The authors develop a framework for understanding the behaviors and practices of service providers that build or deplete consumer trust and the mechanisms that convert consumer trust into value and loyalty in relational exchanges. The proposed framework (1) uses a multidimensional conceptualization for the trustworthiness construct; (2) incorporates two distinct facets of consumer trust, namely, frontline employees and management policies and practices; and (3) specifies value as a key mediator of the trust–loyalty relationship. The authors test the proposed model using data from two service contexts—retail clothing (N = 264) and nonbusiness airline travel (N = 113). The results support a tripartite view of trustworthiness evaluations along operational competence, operational benevolence, and problem-solving orientation dimensions. Moreover, the authors find evidence of contingent asymmetric relationships between trustworthiness dimensions and consumer trust. For frontline employees, benevolent behaviors demonstrate a dominant “negativity” effect (i.e., a unit negative performance has a stronger effect than a unit positive performance), whereas problem-solving orientation has a dominant “positivity” effect (i.e., a unit positive performance has a stronger effect than a unit negative performance). Value completely mediates the effect of frontline employee trust on loyalty in the retailing context and partially mediates the effect of management policies and practices trust on loyalty in the airlines context. The role of frontline employees is more critical in the retailing context, whereas management practices and policies play the dominant role in the airlines context. Overall, the proposed framework successfully models trust and loyalty mechanisms across the two industries examined in the study, while remaining sensitive to essential contextual differences.