Power perceptions and modes of complaining in higher education

Mukherjee, Avinandan, Pinto, Mary Beth and Malhotra, Neeru (2009) Power perceptions and modes of complaining in higher education. The Service Industries Journal, 29(11), pp. 1615-1633. ISSN (print) 0264-2069


This study examines the relationship between student perceptions of different types of educator power and different modes of student complaining behaviour in the case of university education. A large sample of marketing students in the business school responded to the study from a state university in Northeastern United States. Factor analysis and canonical correlation analysis are used to explore the relationships between five bases of power perceptions (referent, expert, reward, legitimate, and punishment) and four modes of complaining behaviour (voice, negative word of mouth, third party, and exit). The results indicate that students engage in different modes of complaining as they perceive different types of educator power. The predominant complaining mode is found to be voice under referent or expert power, third party under legitimate power, and exit under reward or punishment power. Our findings offer important implications for student satisfaction, retention, and completion rates in higher education.

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