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Flying to Quality: Cultural Influences on Online Reviews

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Abstract: Customers increasingly consult opinions expressed online before making their final decisions. However, inherent factors such as culture may moderate the criteria and the weights individuals use to form their expectations and evaluations. Therefore, not all opinions expressed online match customers’ personal preferences, neither can firms use this information to deduce general conclusions. Our study explores this issue in the context of airline services using Hofstede’s framework as a theoretical anchor. We gauge the effect of each dimension as well as that of cultural distance between the passenger and the airline on the overall satisfaction with the flight as well as specific service factors. Using topic modeling, we also capture the effect of culture on review text and identify factors that are not captured by conventional rating scales. Our results provide significant insights for airline managers about service factors that affect more passengers from specific cultures leading to higher satisfaction dissatisfaction.

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