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Talk up or criticize? Customer responses to WOM about competitors during social interactions

Ranaweera, Chatura; Jayawardhena, Chanaka


Chatura Ranaweera

Chanaka Jayawardhena


Popular metrics such as the Net Promoter Score (NPS) highlights many benefits of word of mouth (WOM) to firms. Is WOM all it is claimed to be? Building on social identity theory, this research develops a conceptual model of WOM exchange in social settings and tests the model with customer surveys of three service sectors. The findings show that the effects of (1) positive and negative WOM (P/NWOM) received about competitors and (2) perceived presence of critical incidents (PPCIs) on P/NWOM given about own service provider are far from intuitive. Responses to PWOM received counter the suggestions in the NPS literature. The findings also indicate that the best firms can hope for when receiving NWOM about competitors is that their customers remain silent. It is recommended that firms communicate a message that is consistent with the nuanced views expressed by friends in social circles, rather than a uniformly superior positioning.


Ranaweera, C., & Jayawardhena, C. (2014). Talk up or criticize? Customer responses to WOM about competitors during social interactions. Journal of business research, 67(12), 2645-2656.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Apr 10, 2014
Online Publication Date May 9, 2014
Publication Date 2014-12
Deposit Date Dec 1, 2015
Publicly Available Date Nov 23, 2017
Journal Journal of business research
Print ISSN 0148-2963
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 67
Issue 12
Pages 2645-2656
Keywords Word of mouth received; Word of mouth given; Critical incidents; Social identity
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Author's accepted manuscript of article published in: Journal of business research, 2014, v.67, issue 12


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