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This study proposes a relationship marketing model, which identifies the antecedents of commitment in the context of consumer services. The literature review initially considers relationship marketing (RM) and the concept of commitment from the context of the marketing and social psychology literature. Commitment is a key element of RM. If parties to a relationship are not committed, the relationship risks dissolution. In this study, commitment is conceptualised as having two distinct dimension i.e. affective and calculative commitment. Affective commitment represents a positive motivation for relationship continuance, whereas calculative commitment represents a negative motivation. Many studies consider commitment to be a unidimensional, global construct. However, using a global measure of commitment without considering the differing motivations could lead to problems in understanding why relationships are maintained. The proposed relationship marketing model identifies the antecedents and one consequence of commitment in the context of consumer services. A conceptual framework graphically represents the various relationships between the variables in the model. The relationships between the variables have been taken from empirical results of other commitment models from the various literatures. There is a lack of research that models the nature of commitment in consumer services and this research aims to address this issue. Depending on the dimension, the antecedents of commitment differ. The affective antecedents that are being considered in this study include affect, satisfaction, freedom to choose and trust, while the calculative commitment antecedents include dependence, size of investment, availability of alternatives, and value. Finally, the behavioural outcome that is considered in this study if ‘intention to continue’. The context of the study relates to a consumer service model of commitment tested on passengers of the airline industry. The research objectives are (1) to develop measurement instrument with good psychometric properties which will test the model, (2) to test the hypothesised relationships of the model and (3) to compare sub-groups within the respondent population. The research was designed to be quantitative in nature. The constructs of the model were measured using summated rating scales and consisted of established measures as well as measures developed specifically for this study. The sample consisted of 243 passengers intercepted at Dublin airport. The sampling technique involved non-probability sampling, by means of quota sampling. The final section of the study concerns the analysis and findings of the research. The analysis was carried out in three main stages in accordance with the three objectives of the study. The first part of the analysis deals with objective one, i.e. a measurement instrument with good psychometric properties. The scales of the final instrument demonstrated good reliability, as was evidence by high Cronbach alphas and demonstrated good unidimensionality, as shown by factor analysis. The second part of the analysis involves testing the conceptual model and the hypotheses relating to it by means of regression analysis (in line with objective two). Thirteen of the seventeen hypothesised relationships are supported by the regression analysis. The third and final part of the analysis concerns objective three of the research and involves comparing the subgroups within the respondent population. T-tests and ANOVA are used to determine whether the subgroups differ in terms of the variables in the conceptual model such as affective and calculative commitment.
Cooper, C.: the Role of Commitment in Relationship Marketing in Consumer Services - an Airline Perspective. Masters Thesis. Dublin Institute of Technology, 2002.