Acceptance of Professional Service Robots: A Cross-Cultural Study
Keywords:artificial Intelligence, culture , professional service robots, robotics, service industry
Service robots are humanoid and non-humanoid machines that communicate and deliver services to customers of an organisation. They are Artificial intelligence (AI) enabled and display human intelligence (Wirtz et al., 2018; Blut et al., 2021). Service robots may undertake cognitive-analytical activities and emotional-social duties. Artificial Intelligence is built-in to service robots, allowing them to interact with the customer as regular hospitality services thrive on providing interpersonal interactions to create customer value. As substitutes for human employees, service robots may posit a psychological and emotional challenge to the traditional view of hospitality services, such as human frontline employees. Professional Service Robots (PRS) have proven to have the potential to drastically change the service industry. The use of PSR is lagging in an African context, necessitating more research on factors that may influence acceptance. This study aims to explore the cultural factors that influence consumers’ acceptance of PSR. The Service Robot Acceptance Model (sRAM) is adopted as a guiding framework for this study. Using an exploratory qualitative research approach data is collected using three focus groups, with 16 participants in total, using the simulation method. Interviews were also conducted with seven participants who were purposively selected based on age, gender, and race. Sexual orientation was found to have a positive influence on acceptance while beliefs and norms were barriers to acceptance, with the Ubuntu philosophy being one of the main reasons for rejection. Language appeared to have a huge role, as forwarded by the sRAM. The results suggest that acceptance of PSR is also dependent on cultural factors, however, its influence is lesser in certain types of service sectors. The research recommends that practitioners, service robot developers, and implementers should consider the culture of the consumers when implementing service robots.