Conceptualisation and development of the admin-avatar taxonomy : antecedents, attitudinal and behavioural consequences

Elsharnouby, Mohamed H.

Business
November 2015

Thesis or dissertation


Rights
© 2015 Mohamed H Elsharnouby. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.
Abstract

Academics and practitioners have increasingly acknowledged the significance of the consumer–brand relationship in both traditional and online contexts. However, the impersonal nature of the online environment is considered to be a hindrance in the development of the brand–consumer relationship. The literature suggests that strong relationship outcomes depend on successful relationship marketing tactics. Admin-avatar concept is a new concept -firstly emerged in this research- which can be used as a technological and marketing tactic. Admin-avatar can embody consumer-facing employees and mimic their real-life roles on companies’ websites, thereby playing a key role in enhancing the relationships between consumers and brands in the online environment. Despite the importance of this technology, very little attention has been paid to the investigation of the admin-avatar concept from a marketing perspective. Following a systematic review of the literature found in 10 major electronic databases and published between 1993 and 2013, significant gaps in literature were identified. Specifically, this research examines the nature of the admin-avatar concept, including its main characteristics, dimensions, and conditions as well as the attitudinal and behavioural consequences of admin-avatar users.

Adopting the mixed methods design, a taxonomy was developed from interviews (qualitative phase) which laid the foundation for the development of the admin-avatar framework. Spiggle’s (1994) framework was adopted for the qualitative data analysis. A conceptual framework was developed and built on the theoretical foundations of reasoned action theory (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). The admin-avatar framework was empirically tested through a series of lab-based experiments (quantitative phase). Following a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) was carried out to purify the scales, determine the dimensionality of the constructs and support their convergent and discriminant validity. The context used for this study was the university admissions admin-avatar. propositions were tested using repeated measures (first experimental deign study), factorial design (second experimental deign study) and serial mediation techniques for both experimental studies. The results mostly support the taxonomy developed from the qualitative phase.

This thesis contributes to the new technology in marketing and practice, specifically by: (1) providing a clear and comprehensive definition of the admin-avatar concept, (2) developing a comprehensive taxonomy of admin-avatar that enriches the area of new technology in marketing by the further investigations by applying the taxonomy to other contexts (e.g., schools, banks, retails and other commercial companies), and (3) confirming the notion that the addition of an admin-avatar will transform the consumer attitude towards the website and the brand. Furthermore, the addition of an admin-avatar will prompt consumers to engage in voluntary behaviours such as saying positive things about the organisation/brand (word of mouth) and recommending the brand and its products to other potential consumers (recommendation). In other words, adding the admin-avatar on the brand website will significantly change the attitudes of brand’s consumers. These positive attitudes will encourage consumers to do voluntary behviours for the brand. From a practical perspective, these findings offer practitioners a clearer and richer understanding of the admin-avatar, facilitating appropriate designs for admin-avatar(s). The findings of this research also give practitioners clear insights into the main advantages of the admin-avatar, such as the degree of its convenience (e.g., quickness and effortless), hedonism (excitement) and attractiveness.

Publisher
Business School, The University of Hull
Supervisor
Jayawardhena, Chanaka
Sponsor (Organisation)
Computek International
Qualification level
Doctoral
Qualification name
PhD
Language
English
Extent
15 MB
Identifier
hull:17238
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