Religious Affiliation of Organizations - Does This Help Us to Forgive Their Misdemeanours?

Latest research on the effects of an organization's affiliation to a religion on consumer perception

Does an organization's ethical and religious affiliation influence where you shop, bank or eat? Or do you regard shop closures due to religious holy days in this era of 24/7 as a service failure? In the latest issue of the Journal of Services Marketing, published by global academic publisher Emerald Group Publishing, researchers have found that religious affiliation is viewed as a positive attribute by many consumers - and in the wake of so many recent corporate scandals, can be used at a time when the firm may need positive associations the most.

In the article, 'Religious affiliation: buffering negative reactions to service failures', Dr Kelly O. Cowart et al. studied the effects of an organization's affiliation to a religion - and whether this affords them more grace when it comes to a consumer's perception of the ethical behaviour and actions of the firm. This article can be freely read until the 16 May 2014 by visiting

The study suggests that a religious affiliation can garner favour even when the religion is not the dominant religion in a society - and that it may heighten customer expectations of ethical behaviour from the firm and its representatives. It concludes that religious affiliation is perceived as a positive attribute, and it motivates a degree of absolution when outcomes are less than favourable.

These findings are relevant and timely as America, and many other nations, stress the need for religious and political tolerance. For this reason, it should be of particular interest to service providers who practice a non-majority faith but may be reluctant to divulge this information for fear of customer alienation.

The article appears in Volume 28 Issue 1 2014 of the Journal of Services Marketing. First published in 1987, the journal has been a leader in services marketing thought and cutting-edge research for more than a quarter of a century. Published articles address a range of services-related issues of interest to marketing scholars and relevant to marketing professionals who represent a broad range of service industries. For more information, visit

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