Daniel Lourenço is a Portuguese international business student. Born in Reguengos de Monsaraz, he is an active sportsman, excelling in football and swimming. As a young man, Daniel has developed a keen interest in aviation. He has just started writing his master thesis, and he has handed in his research proposal to his company advisor, Leonor Soares Henriques Pais.

Leonor is a senior operations manager for CAP Airlines, a Portuguese aviation company. Leonor has been working for CAP Airlines since 2008, and he is responsible for ensuring that business operations are efficient in terms of using as little resources as needed, and effective in terms of meeting customer requirements. Leonor’s job is quite hectic, and ever since he started, Leonor has been working long hours.

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Daniel and Leonor have agreed to meet in a few days to discuss Daniel’s research proposal.


1.1    Introduction

The story below is one of the many typical complaints posted on an airline complaint website (http:// describing passengers’ experiences with CAP Portugal. CAP is the airline of PLC Travel Group, a leading international travel corporation based in Lisbon.

On 23 September 2010 I was flying from Milan to Lisbon and then to Faro with CAP Portugal having the worst experience ever in my life. First of all, the delay from Milan to Lisbon made me to miss flight to Faro. They put me in the next flight 7 hours later which was also delayed for 3 hours and made me to have a total time of 16 hours spend from Milan to Faro which is more than unacceptable. I have had delays with other airlines as well in the past but CAP is something different. They didn’t grant me the entrance to their Lounge in order to find some quietness and make some phone calls to reschedule all my appointments which I lost due to their delays. I had to wait for 45 minutes at the transfer desk which was manned only with 4 people; the slowest people I ever seen in my life, helping to form a queue at Lisbon airport of more than 200 meters with people who lost their planes. CAP People were rude, barely English speaking, not helpful at all and when we at last got on a plane they served us a lousy sandwich. From Lisbon to Faro they didn’t had the smallest dignity to give us a glass of water, although they knew that we were waiting the whole evening at terminal 2 at Lisbon where we could not even get a sandwich to eat. At my return on 27 September from Faro to Lisbon the CAP Pilot made the worst landing I have ever had in my life with the most people in the plane praying. CAP means for me “Choose Another Plane!!!!”

PLC Travel Group was formed eight years ago by the merger of First International Holidays with the tourism division of NTI Portugal. PLC Travel Group carries the brands Arches, Portugal International, and CAP, and it is the largest tour operator in Portugal. PLC Portugal has its own airline company (CAP) and owns a franchise chain of CAP travel agencies. CAP carries out charter and regular flights to medium-haul destinations such as the Mediterranean, North Africa, and the Red Sea and to long-haul destinations such as the Caribbean. Today, CAP’s fleet consists of three (new) Boeings 737-800 and four (outdated) Boeings 767-300. Because the Boeings 767 are rather outdated, they need more maintenance than the average airplane. Despite an intense maintenance program, these planes have a lot of technical problems. Consequently, the long-haul fleet of CAP has dealt with a lot of delays recently. New long-haul planes have been ordered, but these planes will not be delivered before 2016. This means that more delays will inevitably occur. For this reason, CAP needs to obtain more knowledge on the wait experience of passengers during delays and the effects of this experience on customer satisfaction and the evaluation of the service CAP provides.

This research proposal will address the problem and problem statement in Section 1.2. Section 1.3 details the research questions that will help to answer the problem statement. Next, Section 1.4 discusses the relevance of the project. Section 1.5 provides a brief description of the research design, while Section 1.6 includes information on the time frame of this study. Finally, this research proposal will provide a selected bibliography.

1.2    Problem Indication and Problem Statement

Prior research has claimed that service waits can be controlled by two techniques: operations management and/or management of perceptions. For CAP, it is very difficult to obtain “zero defects” (no delays). Hence, this project will focus on managing the perceptions of the wait experience: Because CAP cannot control the actual amount of delays and wait duration (recall that it works with a number of outdated planes), the company must focus on controlling the customers’ perception of the waiting experience. To do this successfully, it is important to know the variables that influence the perception of this waiting experience and the possible impact of waiting on customer satisfaction and service evaluations. More specifically, this project focuses on the following problem statement:

How do delays affect consumers’ service evaluations?

Drawing from prior research in the areas of waiting, service evaluations, attribution theory, and mood theory, hypotheses are generated regarding the relationships among a delay, affect, and service evaluations. The hypothesized relationships are tested in a field setting involving delayed CAP airline passengers.

1.3    Research Questions

To deal with the preceding problem statement, the following research questions are answered:

1.       How does a delay affect service evaluations?

2.       What are the affective consequences of delays, and how does affect mediate the relationship between waiting and service evaluations?

3.       How do situational variables (such as filled time) influence customer reactions to the delay?

1.4    Relevance

Regarding the practical usefulness of the research project, this project gives CAP an indication of its level of performance during delays and shows what the effects of this performance are.

The results of this project allow CAP to improve its service, to keep people “smiling” even during delays.

1.5    Research Design

The hypotheses of this study will be tested with a standardized questionnaire. Data will be collected from passengers on delayed medium- and long-haul flights over a period of two months by the cabin crew. Delays on outbound and inbound flights will be used to gather data from passengers. Flights are only sampled if the post-schedule wait is more than one hour. The passengers are asked to fill out and hand in the questionnaire at the end of the flight (approximately one hour before the airplane will land). Post-flight services, such as luggage pick-up, are ignored for practical reasons. Asking the passengers to fill out a questionnaire after they leave the plane will cause a further delay.

1.6    Time Frame

The time frame necessary for this project is approximately six months. During these six months, periodic reports will be provided on the progress being made.

1.7    Selected Bibliography

Folkes, V. S., Koletsky, S., & Graham, J. L. (1987). A field study of causal inferences and consumer reaction: The view from the airport. Journal of Consumer Research, 13, 534-539.

Oliver, R. L. (1996). Satisfaction: A behavioral perspective on the consumer. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.

Richins, M. L. (1987). A multivariate analysis of responses to dissatisfaction. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 15, 24-31.

Smith, A. K., & Bolton, R. N. (2002). The effect of customers’ emotional responses to service failures on their recovery effort evaluations and satisfaction judgments. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 30, 5-23.

Taylor, S. (1994). Waiting for service: The relationship between delays and evaluations of service. Journal of Marketing, 58, 56-69.

Westbrook, R. A. (1987). Product/consumption-based affective responses and postpurchase processes. Journal of Marketing Research, 24, 258-270.


Assume that Leonor has asked you to review the research proposal for him before he meets with Daniel.

Your Assignment

Address the following:

1.       Provide an evaluation of Daniel’s problem statement and research questions. Use the following criteria:

a.       The background of the problem is clear.

b.       The goal of the research project is clear.

c.       The problem statement is formulated in a neutral and unambiguous way.

d.       The problem statement is precise and specific.

e.       The problem statement is relevant.

f.        The problem statement is feasible.

g.       The specific research questions follow logically from the problem statement.

h.       The specific research questions are precisely written and lead to observable outcomes.

2.       Areas of improvement:

a.       Improve the section “Relevance.”

b.       Do you think that the section “Research Design” provides enough information? Why/why not?

c.       Does the section “Time Frame” provide enough information? Improve this section if necessary.

3.       Explain how a literature review helps Daniel to solve CAP’s problem.

4.       Search for three more relevant papers in academic journals. Explain why you have selected these specific papers.

 Be sure to include the following critical elements.

a.       Evaluation of Problem Statement and Research Questions: Describe the clarity of the problem background and project goal. Determine if the problem statement is precise, specific, relevant, feasible, and neutral. Determine if the research questions follow logically from the problem statement and are written with precision that will allow observable outcomes.

b.       Revisions: Make the necessary changes in the “Relevance” section and the “Time Frame” section. Justify the level of information provided in the “Research Design” section.

c.       Literature Review: Explain why a literature review can be beneficial to solving the problem.

d.       Sources: Find at least three additional relevant journal articles. Explain why these are applicable.

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