HCBE Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship


Larry G Chiagouris

Committee Member

Paul Dion

Committee Member

Russell Abratt


U.S.-based Institutions of Higher Education (IHE) face significant competitive forces including market-based pressures in the form of new and increased competition, an escalating cost base and reduced financial aid sources.

The practice of customer loyalty development and the study of the loyalty phenomena are prevalent in the marketing literature. Despite the prevalence of studies focusing on relationship marketing concepts and loyalty as drivers of customer retention, little progress has been made in conceptualizing and testing frameworks that can explain the impact of relationship marketing on attitudinal and behavioral loyalty in an IHE setting.

This study proposed a relationship marketing approach towards the challenge of increasing student loyalty and thus ultimately student retention. Both offensive (relationship marketing concepts aimed at increasing trust, commitment and perceived value) and defensive (subjective norms and switching costs) strategies were proposed as antecedents of student loyalty. Several existing marketing and organizational behavior scales were modified for use in an IHE environment.

Research into the dynamics of relationship marketing in a real-world setting was conducted to (1) confirm the scales for use in the IHE environment , (2) to broaden the settings in which the selected scales have been deployed, and (3) to offer depth to the relationship marketing and loyalty field of study.

A survey was administered in three South Florida IHEs and 549 responses were collected. The use of structural equation modeling permitted the researcher to establish the measurement validity of the relationship marketing survey instrument and the statistical reliability and validity of the of the proposed variables. There were significant relationships noted between: trust and perceived value; perceived value and commitment; commitment and loyalty; front line employee behaviors and trust; and management policies and procedures and trust; confirming past studies. However, counter to past research, results showed no significant relationship between subjective norms and commitment.

Some of the limitations from previous research were addressed by proposing a more integrated model that combined both offensive and defensive marketing constructs. Future research is needed to determine the causes for the lack of statistical significance for the proposed defensive marketing strategies.

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