Date of Award

8-2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

John T. Mentzer

Committee Members

Theodore P. Stank, Matthew B. Myers, Robert T. Ladd

Abstract

The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the loyalty phenomenon and to understand the role of logistics service in creating customer loyalty. The main objective is to help companies assess the impact of logistics service in creating loyalty. Logistics service quality is purported to consist of two separate constructs – relational LSQ and operational LSQ. These elements of LSQ drive satisfaction. This research also explores the loyalty phenomenon, which is conceptualized as a causal relationship between affective commitment and purchasing behavior. The strength of this relationship is proposed to be moderated by calculative commitment, which involves the calculation of costs and benefits and the assessment of the investments made in the relationship, along with the availability of alternatives. Further, satisfaction influences the loyalty relationship differently. This research contends that satisfaction has a linear relationship to affective commitment, but its relationship to purchase behavior is nonlinear, being more significant at the extremes. These constructs are defined and operationalized, and by testing its components, along with calculative commitment and satisfaction, different loyalty "types" should be identified. Understanding that firms have a portfolio of different customer relationships, the research should ascertain what conditions drive various types of customer relationships.

This nomological model should also provide managerial insight to the proposition that there are different loyalty "types" that would have different strategic implications. Top firms recognize the differences in the needs and desires of major customers and design offerings according to those needs (Zhao, Droge and Stank 1996). Because an important goal for firms is to grow a larger share of the profitable revenue available (Bowersox, Closs and Stank 2000), managers must realize that not all customers are the same. This research should help distinguish different customer segments based on their loyalty profiles. If the loyalty relationship can be better understood, then managers will have more clarity about how to determine what level of logistics service (as well as other services) to provide to different customer groups.

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