Does Gender Matter? The Effect of Management Responses on Reviewing Behavior
59 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2020 Last revised: 19 Jun 2021
Date Written: June 18, 2021
We study the effect of management responses on the reviewing behavior of self- identified female and male reviewers. Using data from Tripadvisor, we show that after hotels begin to respond to reviews, the probability that a negative review comes from a self-identified female reviewer decreases. To explain these findings, we use a survey to show that female reviewers, when writing a negative review, are more likely to perceive management responses as a source of conflict. To understand whether these concerns are well founded, we use Tripadvisor data to provide evidence of gender bias in the way hotel managers address reviewers writing negative reviews. We show that responses to self-identified female reviewers are more likely to be contentious, i.e., confrontational, aggressive, or trying to discredit the reviewer. Finally, to confirm that gender bias directly affects reviewing behavior, we show that the probability that a negative review comes from a self-identified female reviewer is lower for hotels that write more contentious responses. While the introduction of management responses created a new channel of communication between firms and consumers, our findings show that such a channel can be misused to discriminate and can lead to unexpected consequences such as a reduction of reviews by those users more likely to be discriminated against.
Keywords: TripAdvisor, online reviews, gender bias, management responses
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