Does Gender Matter? The Effect of Management Responses on Reviewing Behavior
56 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2020
Date Written: June 12, 2020
In this paper, we study the effect of management responses on the reviewing behavior of female and male reviewers. First, we use a survey to show that female reviewers are more likely to perceive management responses as a source of conflict. Second, we use Tripadvisor data to provide evidence of gender bias in the way hotel managers address reviewers writing negative reviews. Third, we investigate the downstream consequences of these findings using a Difference in Differences strategy to show that, after hotels begin to respond to reviews, there is a decrease in the likelihood of observing a review written by a female user. Moreover, we show that this effect is driven by a reduction in the number of negative reviews, and by independent hotels. Fourth, we validate these results using a lab experiment which shows that, to avoid conflict, female reviewers prefer a platform that doesn't allow management responses when they want to write a negative review. Overall, our findings show that, while the introduction of management responses created a new channel of communication between firms and consumers, 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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