Publication details [#66576]

Decock, Sofie, Bernard De Clerck, Jasper Vandenberghe and Mathias Seghers. 2019. Theory versus practice. A closer look at transactional and interpersonal stance in English electronic complaint refusal notifications. English Text Construction 12 (1) : 103–136.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This paper investigates the attention given to and the impact of interpersonal, people-oriented and transactional, problem-oriented stance in English complaint refusals in business correspondence. The analysis is based on a sample analysis of English e-mail sequences from a Belgian multinational as well as experimental research that probes into the effect of interpersonal strategies on customer outcomes. The sample analysis shows a sharp contrast between theory and practice: while the need for supportive language and interpersonal attention are standard items in textbook instructions, the data show little alignment with the customer through expressions of regret, gratitude, or empathy. The experiment, in its turn, shows a positive impact of interactional stance on interactional justice but little to no impact on satisfaction, perceived professionalism, and loyalty. This raises a number of questions regarding best practice and best practice models.