In this study, the literature review is organized in line with its objectives having various topics and subtopics. The first part looks at theories that have been used in studying the roles of servicescape and authenticity when dining at Michelin starred restaurant. The theories include servicescape theory (substantive staging and communicative staging), authenticity theory and Bitner theoretical framework. Also, an empirical study is conducted that highlights servicescape and perceived authenticity. Background information on Fat Duck which is a three stars Michelin restaurant is explored. Finally, a summary of the reviewed literature is highlighted.
2.1.1 Theoretical Framework of Bitner (1992)
This framework proposed that servicescape entails all physical elements that a service provider can control thus enhancing the action of a customer and that of an employee. Bitner's model (1992) extends the original comprehensive version of Mehrabian and Russel (1974) in Stimulus- Organism- Response (SOR) model. The model is a holistic view of the internal surrounding relating to perceived servicescape. According to Bitner (1992), the perception of a consumer is influenced by tangible cues like the physical environment since they form services' opinion through means other than direct physical contact. It is the service environment of an organization that has a great impact on the perception of a customer towards service experience. Mostly, consumers tend to look for cues in the ability of an organization or services quality and see if the physical environment is rich with various types of cues. This is because it is the physical environment that influences the ultimate satisfaction of a customer with the service. The theoretical model of Bitner (1992) infers that consumers and workers in a restaurant are likely to respond to the physical environment of a service provider cognitively, emotionally and physiologically.
Bitner also infers that a servicescape is a form of non-verbal communication that gives meaning through environmental cues. As a result, eliciting cognitive responses that help a customer distinguish the services mentally in an organization. Thus, physical cues enable a consumer to carry out the distinguishing process. Bitner (1992) relies on Nguyen and Leblanc (2002) to propose that due to high intangibility and inseparability factor of services, they acquire less intrinsic cues on beliefs about service quality thus enabling the consumer to depend on altruistic cues like servicescape in inferring quality. Basically, this model ignores that the physical environment influences the behavior and satisfaction of a customer. Also, due to uniqueness of services features like intangibility, perishability, heterogeneity and inseparability, the physical environment where service takes place significantly impact on a perception of a customer of the service ultimately delivered since prior to purchase, consumers generally view cues on the capability and quality of an organization (Malhotra and Birks, 2007). In knowing that physical environment influences customers, then it comes the opportunity of influencing the setting design. Every customer goes to certain service firm with an aim that may be helped or get blocked by the setting. Significantly, a restaurant may need to make sure a certain event progression that is following a script is with the ultimate aim of enhancing the approach behavior of an individual.
2.1.2. Mehrabian and Russell's (1974) Model
The model of Mehrabian and Russell's (1974) is based on the paradigm of Stimulus-Organism-Response (SOR). It suggests that the physical environment has a direct impact on the approach and avoidance behaviors of individuals. From the paradigm, the S element is used as a stimulus for the environment, the O is the emotional state and R is the response of approach-avoidance behavior. Certain stimulus tends to affect the emotional state of pleasure and excitement which in turn affect the approach-avoidance response. The SOR model suggests that servicescape stimuli have an impact on the emotional state of a customer and hence lead to approach-avoidance behavior. This is confirmed by Newman (2007) when he affirmed that indeed consumers respond to servicescapes stimuli and their responses are termed as either approach or avoidance behavior. Similarly, Bitner (1992) and Hoffman and Turley (2002) categorized those responses as; a desire to stay physically in (approach) or to get out of (avoid) the surrounding. Also, willingness in exploring the environment (approach) or remaining inanimate in the surrounding and not interacting with it (avoid). Additionally, willingness in communicating with others in the surrounding (approach) or ignoring communication attempts from others (avoid).
Assessment of Servicescape and authenticity on Customer satisfaction
Food is recognized to be an essential factor that contributes to the authenticity perceptions about restaurants. However, customers may lack the knowledge of determining whether the cuisine is authentic or view for something beyond the meal before their patronage (Ryu, Lee, and Gon Kim, 2012). There are three key elements of a servicescape that impact the authenticity assessment of a consumer; the physical setting, service providers and other customers (Wang and Mattila, 2015). Authenticity from a themed environment is a process in which conventional design elements are integrated thus conveying a feeling of ethnic culture. Restaurants purpose in constructing environments that can be seen as authentic by their customers. They strategically employ servicescape elements like lighting, colors, symbols, and artifacts to connect the service surrounding the stereotypes related to the culture. Thus, ethnically themed services bring a significant impact on authenticity assessment of the customer. Additionally, customers are able to ground their authentic assessment through the presence of referent ethnic service providers. Service providers are social servicescape element and customers are able to perceive them as either authentic or inauthentic. Also, the ethnic appearance of employees including chefs and waiters is critical to the evaluation of a customer on authenticity. Thus, referent ethnic appearance of the service providers has a great impact on the evaluation of a consumer of service offering. Ethnically themed physical servicescape and presence of ethnic service providers have an impact on the authentic perception of a customer but the two are viewed in a holistic way. From the previous research, customers follow the Gestalt notion of surrounding perception and cues of incongruent have an adverse effect on their experiences (Carroll and Wheaton, 2009). Therefore, themed servicescape and service appearance have a positive impact on authenticity evaluation of a customer. Other customer is another ethnic background on the service setting that contributes to the authenticity assessment of a customer. In a service setting, presence of referent ethnic customers makes them feel associated with the culture hence perceiving their experiences in an authentic context. According to Wang and Mattila (2015), individuals in the local areas can be seen as signifiers of past events or ways of life. To travelers seeking the authentic local services, local people can be represented as 'exotic other' hence illustrating the quality of services. Even if there is no direct communication, the presence of local customers can make travelers feel a sense of validation. Thus, a truly authentic restaurant is not only based on design, cultural artifacts and music, but also on people that work and patronize the place (Bell, Holbrook, and Solomon, 1991). In as much as the restaurant draws referent ethnic consumer, the presence of other referent ethnic consumers propose an ethnic authenticity of a service restaurant. Therefore, it is clear that referent ethnic customer has a significant impact on authenticity assessment of a customer of ethnic dining services.
Mostly, a consumer relies on physical evidence or tangible cues so as to examine services given prior to purchase. Major elements of a servicescape that influence a consumer include substantive staging which entails the interior design of a facility like the ambient state, layout and functionality, signs, symbols and hygiene. Additionally, communicative staging is essential since it looks at personnel performance of an employee like sincerity, helpfulness towards the restaurant and customers and also their physical attractiveness. Therefore, Servicescape plays a significant role in determining whether a consumer will be satisfied and thus influencing how long they stay in the restaurant. Significantly, authentic experience is a core element that can be used in impressing customers not only the authenticity of food but also on the whole authentic dining experience. Although authenticity is induced by servicescape, it influences customer satisfaction.
One of the limitations is that the research in our study focuses mainly on Michelin Star Restaurants without looking at or comparing the results with other types of restaurants. Therefore, future research is required in examining all restaurants without generalizing the results. Also, the research was focusing on the subjective perception of 'type authenticity' where the service offerings belonged to the ethnic group. However, some theoretical perspectives like the existential authenticity that relate to the experience of the consumption were ignored. Therefore, it is required that future research extend authenticity notion into the experience itself. Even though the research was able to highlight the core factors of servicescape, the research was just confined to only fine dining restaurants. This is an effect of generalizability of findings and it is important for future research to focus on other experiences like fast food and casual dining restaurants. Some model used as the regression model significantly predicted just one-third of the variance, it is therefore important for future research to consider other models that can look at the whole variance of the research. The research was able to focus on just perceived authenticity without investigating other hospitality services of ethnic-oriented like discrete emotional responses and cognitive assessments. Future studies should, therefore, assess other responses of a customer like discrete emotions and overall impressions.
A major ethical issue during the research was on the issue of informed consent which results when a person voluntarily and intelligently gives his/her consent. Participant's right to autonomy should be secured so as to prevent any assaults, but secure personal liberty and veracity. In order to take part in the research, individuals should make informed decisions only if they have information on the probable risks and benefits of the research (Kimmel, 2010). The researchers, on the other hand, should explain the procedures so as to create awareness to the participants on some of the possible risks of the voluntary research. Also, any physical harm or discomfort, any privacy invasion and any threat to the dignity of the participants should be highlighted clearly. The researcher should give noncoercive disclaimer stating that participants can voluntarily participate and no penalties that can be g...
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