Perceived prevalence and personal impact of negative online reviews

Graham L. Bradley, Beverley A. Sparks, Karin Weber

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Technological advancement and growth in social media have meant that customers are increasingly using the internet to write a review or express opinions about products and services. Many of these online reviews are critical of service organizations and workers. The purpose of this paper is to document the experiences that service industry personnel have of negatively valenced, customer-authored, online reviews, the personal impact of these reviews, and the manner in which participants respond emotionally and behaviorally to these reviews. Design/methodology/approach – This research drew on the stress, coping, and service literature, with particular emphasis on stress appraisal theory. The study involved the completion of an anonymous online questionnaire by 421 restaurant owners, managers, and employees. Findings – Many respondents reported feelings of anger and use of maladaptive coping strategies in response to negative online reviews (NORs). Smaller numbers reported feelings of embarrassment and guilt, and thoughts of leaving the industry. Factors pertaining to respondents’ online review exposure, emotional responses, and coping strategies predicted the effects of negative reviews on thoughts of exiting current employment. Research limitations/implications – The findings have implications for protecting worker well-being and job tenure in an industry deeply affected by electronic word-of-mouth. Replication is recommended using a longitudinal design and more objective data obtained from validated instruments and independent sources. Originality/value – This survey provides the first known evidence of the personal impact of NORs on business owners, managers, and employees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-533
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Service Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2016


  • Complaints
  • Coping
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Internet
  • Online reviews
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Perceived prevalence and personal impact of negative online reviews'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this