Investigating the consequences of word of mouth from a WOM sender's perspective in the services context

Chawdhary, Rahul (2015) Investigating the consequences of word of mouth from a WOM sender's perspective in the services context. (PhD thesis), Kingston University.

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Abstract

Word of Mouth (WOM) is produced as a result of an interaction between a dyad of sender and recipient. Previous research on WOM has focused on the phenomenon's effect on the recipient's attitudes and behaviour, emphasising the role of WOM in customer acquisition. In contrast, little research has examined the effect of WOM on the person generating it: the WOM sender. Consequently, this study examines the consequences of acrticulating offline WOM, both positive and negative on this participant in the WOM dyad. These consequences of WOM can be categorised as firm-related and self-related outcomes. This study is the first of its type to examine these outcomes simultaneously and it provides empirical evidence that singular episodes of WOM not only hold implications for the firm but also have psychological implications for the sender. The firm-related implications comprise WOM sender's affective commitment towards the firm, their loyalty intentions and their likelihood to give future WOM about the services provider. The self-related outcome is the sender's self-enhancement. Our understanding of the impact of this WOM interchange on the sender is enriched by examining certain moderation and mediation effects. Tie strength within the WOM dyad is posited as a moderator of the effect of WOM on the sender's firm-and-self-related outcomes; affective commitment with the services provider is suggested as a mediator between WOM behaviour and firm-related outcomes. Finally, this study is the first to investigate the relative impact of WOM valence on the sender's firm- and self-related outcomes, complementing prior research which examined the relative impact of WOM valence on the recipient. Scenario-based experimental research design is employed to test the theoretical framework with mobile phone services and health club services as the research settings. A representative sample of respondents with an existing relationship with a services provider in these research settings are recruited via an online customer panel company. Pre-tests conducted to validate the scenarios and their realism suggests that the scenarios produce the intended effect. This study contributes to the WOM literature, by providing empirical evidence that WOM behaviour by an individual is likely to spawn their future WOM behaviour about the services provider, whatever the WOM valence. Furthermore, novel to the WOM literature this research indicated that self-enhancement is an outcome of WOM behaviour irrespective of WOM valence. On the other hand, the research findings show that the articulation of PWOM and NWOM have a converse effect on the affective commitment and loyalty of the sender. With regards to the relative impact of WOM, the research results suggest that NWOM holds a greater effect than PWOM on the sender's firm-related outcomes, whereas the impact of PWOM is stronger than NWOM on the sender's self-related outcome. Finally, this study indicated that the tie strength between the WOM participants does not influence the effect of WOM on the sender's firm- and self-related outcomes. This contrasts with prior research which suggests that tie strength is a key influence on the effectiveness of WOM on the recipient's behaviour (Bansal and Voyer, 2000). In addition, the analysis shows that affective commitment partially mediated the relationship between WOM behaviour and and future WOM intentions of the sender and fully mediated the relationship between WOM behaviour and willingness to pay more (attitudinal loyalty) regardless of valence. However, affective commitment fully mediated the relationship between WOM behaviour and switching intentions (behavioural loyalty), but only in the NWOM condition.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Physical Location: This item is held in stock at Kingston University library.
Uncontrolled Keywords: WOM, affective commitment, loyalty, self-enhancement, tie strength, experiments, services
Research Area: Business and management studies
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Business and Law
Depositing User: Jennifer May
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2016 10:28
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2016 10:28
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/35841

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