Intentional failures, which refer to purposeful transgressions by the organization or its employees against customers, has received little scholarly attention. Anecdotal evidence suggests that there are regular instances of failures to which consumers may ascribe some intentionality. For example, airlines, hotels, and restaurants overbook and overcharge their customers, and banks unilaterally close customers’ accounts. Besides transgression on the firm level, individual employees may also account for such failure instances due to revenge in response to customer misbehaviour (Harris and Ogbonna 2002). Prior research from the psychology literature shows that people are sensitive to an intentional harm, inflating its perceived magnitude (Ames & Fiske, 2013).
Yet, despite its marketplace relevance and theoretical importance, research on intentional failures remains largely unexplored in the service context. Against this background, this project aims to provide a better understanding of intentional failures and how intentionality translates into negative customer responses. Accordingly, the project is divided into two main streams: In the first stream, the research focuses on customers’ reactions to intentional failures such as firm-initiated service termination. In the second stream, the research focuses on the construct of intentionality to provide a better understanding of customers’ evaluation of attribution dimensions following service failures and also to capture the true effect of intentionality through examining how intentional compared to unintentional failures affect customers’ attitudinal, emotional, and behavioural reactions. Further, the project aims to provide more nuanced insights into intentional failures by exploring boundary conditions under which intentional failures are less (or more) harmful.