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Title: A grounded theory of authenticity and quality constructions for ethnic restaurants : implications for effective marketing strategies
Author: Chatzopoulou, Eleni
ISNI:       0000 0004 7429 9906
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2018
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Purpose: Authenticity and quality are important criteria in consumers’ selection of food hospitality services and are therefore essential characteristics in the development of a competitive marketing strategy and service delivery. This thesis examines the concepts of authenticity and quality at the ‘exchange intersection’ through an analysis of Greek ethnic restaurants’ constructions of authenticity and quality, and their consumers’ perceptual and experiential perspectives on these. Methodology: The research followed a Grounded Theory approach and used qualitative research methods, specifically in-depth interviews incorporating projective techniques to generate data from a cross-national sample of restaurateurs (n=19) and their consumers (n=23) in Greece and in the U.K. NVivo10 was utilised to facilitate the inductive and interpretive analysis. Findings: Restaurateurs’ constructed meanings of authenticity are shaped by their identities and experiences. A restaurant’s authenticity is structured upon the ethnicity of the staff, the menu, origin of the ingredients and wine, décor of the restaurant, music and entertainment as well as the methods of cooking. Similarly, consumers construct meanings of authenticity based on their identities. These constructions are either pragmatic iconicity, ancestral indexicality or innovative iconicity. Indexical authenticity is of greater salience for consumers of the same ethnic origin as the restaurant. Both restaurateurs and consumers perceive authenticity as a synonym for quality. Ethnic restaurants’ authenticity and quality meanings are transmitted via Word of Mouth (WOM) and electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) between actors. Theoretical contribution: The thesis contributes to the literature on authenticity and quality by demonstrating how ethnic identities shape the salience of indexical and existential conceptualisations of authenticity. Consumers for example who share the same identity with the restaurant’s theme are stricter with their judgements about the authenticity and quality of these restaurants. Relationships between authenticity and quality conventions, which were previously underdeveloped in Quality Conventions xv theory (QCT), are explored. An integration of quality and authenticity is proposed via the identified additional authenticity convention category. More specifically, quality and authenticity integrated perceptions are outlined within the ethnic restaurants context for the first time. Drawing on Actor Network theory (ANT), the thesis discusses how these two meanings are transmitted in the communication network of restaurateurs and consumers via word of mouth or eWOM. ANT is enriched now with insights about the ethnic restaurants sector and also by adding quality and authenticity constructed meanings to the theory. Finally, according to the findings, within the communication network of consumers WOM is the most influential communication method for ethnic restaurants rather than eWOM and online feedback. Managerial insight: The findings indicate how effective promotional methods, authenticity and quality perceptions can help restaurateurs to better engage with their customers while also respecting their culinary culture. Ethnic-themed restaurants are informal but powerful ambassadors for a country’s culture. Certification or official authentication could help protect and promote these assets for cultural and financial benefits, and this is discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available