Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of culture (Western versus East Asian) on customers' perceived informational fairness of several types of failure explanations - excuse, justification, reference, and apology. It also seeks to examine whether informational fairness influences post-failure satisfaction and consequent loyalty intentions. Design/methodology/approach: A two (culture: US and Taiwanese) × four (explanation type: excuse, justification, reference to other people, and penitence) between-subjects experimental design was used to test the hypotheses. Participants were exposed to a written scenario describing a flight delay. A total of 286 undergraduate students served as the subject pool. Findings: The findings of this study imply that customers from different cultures perceive service failure explanations somewhat differently. US customers perceive reference to other customers to be more just while Taiwanese customers perceive apology to be more just. Furthermore, such informational fairness influences satisfaction, and consequent loyalty intentions. Research limitations/implications: Owing to the comparison of US and Taiwanese participants in this study, these results may not be applied to customers from other countries. Second, the stimuli involved service failures that are in the context of air travel. Third, though the student sample is appropriate for cross-cultural research, it limits the generalizability of the study's findings. Practical implications: The study findings indicate that explanations for service failures enhance customers' fairness perceptions, thus inducing loyalty. Yet, it is important for front-line employees to keep in mind that customers' cultural backgrounds can affect their perceptions of specific types of explanations. Originality/value: The findings of this study add to the evidence that culture is an important factor in determining the effectiveness of a service recovery effort. Specifically, this research shows cross-cultural differences in informational fairness perceptions across various explanation types.
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