Date of Award

5-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

Ernest R. Cadotte

Committee Members

Sarah Fisher Gardial, Kenneth B. Kahn, Robert T. Ladd

Abstract

Gaining competitive advantage in today’s fragmented markets is a powerful incentive for marketers to create superior customer value to. Multiple research streams were carried out to understand the meaning of customer value and determine the most effective ways to provide it. A review of the extant literature revealed that these research streams fall into in four different categories, namely cultural values of the customer, customer value as a trade off, customer value as a process, and customer value as an experience. This dissertation research focuses on the third path, which uses means-end theory to understand customer value by exploring the meanings attached to the consumption of services. . This dissertation posits that a service provides superior value to customers if it contributes more towards the attainment of customer goals more than competitors.

Although there is a great deal of research on means-end theory with products, limited empirical research has been conducted on services. Recently, some studies have been conducted using quantitative methods to explicate customer value hierarchies. However, means-end theory and its hierarchical framework of attributes, consequences and goals have not been tested using quantitative methods. This dissertation fills this gap by successfully testing the means-end theory in the context of an educational service. The hierarchical framework was analyzed using structural equation modeling to simultaneously test the proposed four hypotheses. The fit of the model was good and all the hypothesized paths were significantly correlated.

In sum, this dissertation presents a completely quantitative approach for analyzing dominant paths among many important goals, consequences and attributes in the presence of high multicollinearity. Using this approach, it is possible to measure the types of customer value that may be created by the consumption of services and products.

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