Diagnosing member-customer ostracism in co-operatives and counterpoising its relationship-poisoning effects

Theo Benos*, Nikos Kalogeras, Ko de Ruyter, Martin Wetzels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: This paper aims to examine a core member-customer threat in co-operatives (co-ops) by drawing from ostracism research, assessing co-op ostracism’s impact on critical membership and relational exchange outcomes and discussing why relationship marketing research needs to pay more attention to the overlooked role of implicit mistreatment forms in customer harm-doing. Design/methodology/approach: Three studies were conducted. In Study 1, ostracism in co-ops was explored, and a measurement scale for co-op ostracism was developed. In Study 2, the core conceptual model was empirically tested with data from members of three different co-ops. In Study 3, a coping strategy was integrated into an extended model and empirically tested with a new sample of co-op members. Findings: Ostracism is present in co-ops and “poisons” crucial relational (and membership) outcomes, despite the presence of other relationship-building or relationship-destroying accounts. Coupling entitativity with cognitive capital attenuates ostracism’s impact. Research limitations/implications: Inspired by co-ops’ membership model and inherent relational advantage, this research is the first to adopt a co-op member-customer perspective and shed light on an implicit relationship-destroying factor. Practical implications: Co-op decision makers might use the diagnostic tool developed in the paper to detect ostracism and fight it. Moreover, a novel coping strategy for how co-ops (or other firms) might fend off ostracism threats is offered in the article. Originality/value: The present study illuminates a dark side of a relationally profuse customer context, painting a more complete picture of relationship marketing determinants. Little attention has been given to ostracism as a distinct and important social behaviour in marketing research and to co-ops as a research context.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1778-1801
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Volume52
Issue number9/10
Early online date16 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Keywords

  • Co-operatives
  • Coping strategy
  • Membership
  • Ostracism
  • Relationship marketing
  • Relationship poison

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