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EMAC 2020 Annual Conference

Don’t Shoot the Messenger! The Effects of Customer Ratings on Relationships in Platform Markets

Published: May 27, 2020


Sebastian Starke, University of Mannheim; Sergej von Janda, University of Mannheim; Sabine Kuester, University of Mannheim


Platforms; Customer ratings; Bidirectional ratings


Despite the growing relevance of platforms, their management as digital business models remains challenging. To regulate encounters between customers and service providers, platforms frequently employ bidirectional rating systems used for both parties to evaluate each other. But how do customers react to receiving customer ratings? And how do these customer ratings affect the relationship between customers and the platform? We conduct an online scenario experiment in which customers receive customer ratings for their behavior in a service. Using balance theory as a conceptual underpinning, we show that customers’ reactions are affected by the perceived adequacy of the ratings and their trust in the platform. Our findings contribute to the emerging literature on platforms and improve our understanding of the effect of customer ratings on relationships in platforms. Further, this study urges platform managers to educate service providers about the importance of adequate customer ratings.