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April 02, India has recently complained to the World Trade Organization against the United States over changes to visas for skilled workers that Republican presidential candidates have targeted for elimination, according to a report in the UK's Financial Times.
The WTO revealed that India had requested consultations with the US over moves by Washington to raise fees for L1 and H1B working visas and also restrictions on the number of those visas awarded. The move is the first step in initiating a dispute at the WTO. Meanwhile, the annual gold rush in Silicon Valley to file applications for H1B visas has just begun, as the federal government began distributing some of the 85, H1B visas it is authorized to issue this fiscal year, according to Vice News.
Why is India complaining? There are two main reasons: 1. India's overall exports have suffered 18th consecutive monthly decline in February , according to India's Economic Times.
Given India's heavy reliance on H1B workers for its IT exports earnings, it is natural that the Indian government gets very concerned whenever there's even a hint of the US possibly limiting H1B visas or making them more expensive. Riaz Haq said…. Annual race for 85, tech H1B visas is under way. India body shops in front.
Critics say those foreigners displace U. As the presidential race has thrust immigration and job displacement center stage, demand for foreign skilled-worker visas coveted by tech companies is expected to far outstrip supply again this year, likely prompting the government to hold a lottery.
Citizenship and Immigration Services, the federal agency that oversees the H-1B visa program, begins accepting applications Friday for fiscal An additional 20, visas go to individuals with advanced degrees from U. The 85,quota is expected to be exhausted in a matter of days for the third consecutive year despite announcements by some tech companies of layoffs, according to federal officials and immigration attorneys who file petitions for companies.
Employers pay fees to the government and lawyers to apply for the visas. The presidential race has altered the picture. On the campaign trail, the program has been blamed by some candidates for enabling employers to hire cheaper foreign labor at the expense of U.
At rallies, GOP front-runner Donald Trump has featured tech workers who said they were replaced by foreigners. At a recent debate, Mr. Trump briefly disavowed his opposition to the visa program, saying such foreign workers were needed.
But a short time later he switched back to opposing the program. Democratic contender Bernie Sanders also is a critic; Hillary Clinton is a supporter.
Hira, a critic of the program, said the Obama administration has failed to protect U. China tops the list of world's 10 largest industrial producers. Since , Pakistan's MVA per capita has slipped to Among the five most competitive are four high-income countries Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States , along with China ranking fifth.
Looking for ways to help Indian companies take on more debt, invest and create jobs, the government last year allowed them to issue rupee-denominated bonds overseas. However, despite Mr. Unrestricted by Indian regulations, global financial institutions like International Finance Corp. Masala bonds are an attractive source of funds for Indian companies as investors bear the foreign-exchange risk. Many Indian companies are struggling as the amount of rupees they have to pay to service their dollar and euro debt has ballooned as the South Asian currency has depreciated over the past year.
The masala-bond market was opened to companies late last year just as global interest in emerging markets was on the decline. Indian companies are also reluctant to pay the higher yield that investors want to compensate for the risk. Leong of Aberdeen. More than 8, miles away, at Western Kentucky, professors were taken by surprise when they learned last fall of the aggressive recruitment effort, sponsored by their international enrollment office.
Word began to spread here on campus that a potential flood of graduate students would arrive in the spring semester. But as colleges increasingly rely on these international recruiters, educators worry that students may be victimized by high-pressure sales tactics, and that universities are trading away academic standards by recruiting less qualified students who pay higher tuition.
RBI's Rajan's straight talk upsets Modi ministers. That Mr. It could signal that Mr. Modi will refuse to extend Mr. But letting Mr. Rajan go would be a mistake. His candor and perceived sense of independence are strengths, not weaknesses. Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley would be foolish to overlook this. In India, where Reserve Bank governors are usually drab, the year-old Mr. Rajan cuts a dashing figure.
Unlike most of his predecessors at the year-old bank, Mr. Rajan earned his reputation overseas before returning to India. In , the International Monetary Fund appointed Mr. Rajan, a professor at the University of Chicago at the time, as its youngest-ever chief economist, and the first from a non-Western country. Two years later, Mr. When the global financial crisis struck in , many observers hailed Mr. Rajan for his prescience. Four years ago, Mr. Rajan returned to India to serve briefly as chief economic advisor to then-Finance Minister P.
Chidambaram before taking over at the Reserve Bank. To some in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr. Rajan is tainted by his appointment by the Congress Party. Nor did he help his own case by coming up with a sketchy index in that appeared designed to show that the western state of Gujarat, then headed by Mr.
Since Mr. Rajan has been pressured to boost growth by cutting interest rates. At the same time, over the past 15 months, the Reserve Bank cut interest rates by basis points to 6. Some also disparage Mr. In a speech last year, the governor warned against fetishizing strong governments by evoking Hitler.
During a national debate about rising intolerance, Mr. It is barely 8 a. Hundreds circle it quickly but silently, praying to the Hindu deity Balaji to grant the wish that has brought them here: to obtain a guest worker visa that will allow them to take their high-tech talents to America.
The Balaji Visa Temple is among a handful of such shrines that have sprung up in recent years, offering Indian workers hope of divine help in obtaining a temporary U. Those who receive them can spend three to six years working in the U. Having wages sometimes shaved through fees assessed by sponsoring companies, who may contract them out for other work.
Ted Cruz, as a threat to American workers. Still, they come in waves to cities like Hyderabad and shrines like the Balaji temple, eager to vie for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Some have seen their applications put forward year after year without success, putting off marriage or finding a permanent home in hopes that this will be the year they get to America.
To jobs that will boost their careers and pay far more than they can earn here. To a few years of adventure in the land of Hollywood and Disney World. Every year, thousands of Indian workers from Hyderabad alone get H-1Bs, while Indians overall make up more than two-thirds of those working on H-1B visas. Their growing presence has spurred calls for reform of the system on both sides: those who want the limited number of visas expanded and those who say the system has gotten out of control.
The number of visas available, however, has always been limited. Trade agreements reserve up to 6, of those visas for skilled Chilean and Singaporean workers. Exempt from the cap are skilled workers employed in higher education, nonprofit research or government research. Also not counted in the cap are extensions of an H-1B for a second three-year term.
Since , the huge demand for H-1Bs has prompted a computerized lottery to dole out the visas. In fiscal year , the most recent year data are available, 67 percent of H-1B visa recipients were from India, the highest proportion in at least 18 years. Indian companies, including Tata Consulting Services, Wipro and Infosys, submit tens of thousands of visa requests on behalf of U.
Critics say they are effectively gaming the lottery — depriving smaller companies of the chance to fairly compete for H-1Bs and taking visas that could go to more highly skilled, higher-paid workers for low-level, lower-paid programmers. Constituting 7. Construction has played a major part, both in rural areas through the year-old Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which provides jobs building ponds, roads and other infrastructure and urban areas through real estate and infrastructure.
These are estimations; the actual figures may be higher. This will hit job creation and potentially stall the fall in poverty levels. Several million of those lifted out of poverty continue to hover just above the poverty line officially described as the ability to spend Rs 47 person per day in urban areas, Rs 32 in rural areas , in danger of slipping below it when livelihood opportunities slow down.
The sectors that can absorb construction labour are slowing, as the fall in credit growth, in infrastructure and roads, respectively, indicates, according to Reserve Bank of India monthly data. Although Pakistan is formally an ally of the United States, American officials have made clear that India has displaced Pakistan in American interests and hearts.
Carter said in April. The price is still under discussion, but more difficult issues like liability have been resolved. Modi said in Hindi. The news media in India has extensively chronicled comments by Mr.
While Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has said little about India, his vows to tighten immigration policies worry Indian officials. Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Obama is eager to prevent. Once the accord enters into legal force, no nation can legally withdraw for four years. Stavins, the director of the environmental economics program at Harvard.
Recent patrols by Chinese submarines in the Bay of Bengal have unnerved New Delhi, and a visit to India by the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, did nothing to soothe Indian sensibilities, as Chinese troops made an incursion into border territory that India claims as its own. The tech industry fell into a regulatory blind-spot, unhampered by red tape and the labor laws that strangled other sectors. These firms offered businesses around the world an efficient, low-cost way to outsource their in-house IT work.
Building and maintaining enterprise-specific IT infrastructure for overseas clients provided a steady stream of income. India could beat the competition for this work because of its large pool of trained, low-cost engineers. Once wildly successful, this model has now begun to run into a whole host of problems. First, slowing growth in the West means that many companies have cut down on the discretionary spending that once went into outsourcing contracts.
Salaries have begun to rise, threatening a business model based on generating relatively little revenue per employee. Companies could once draw clear distinctions between the core of their business and extraneous IT work that could be outsourced.
Now, with the shift to digital services and cloud computing, more and more companies view IT as integral to the transformation of their overall business. They're looking for higher-value services and more innovation than Indian IT companies have traditionally provided.
Infosys's struggles with its core consulting revenue led to it declaring disappointing results last Friday. Bengaluru's flagship companies are hardly unaware of this. TCS says its revenue from such work is growing at 10 percent annually. The problem is that these kind of projects don't require masses of low-priced engineers.
TCS is hiring fewer people and laying off some. A wave of job cutbacks could attract the baleful glare of the state. In a hangover from India's socialist past, the government has traditionally been overprotective of workers in the formal sector.
While the roughly 3 million people who work in the IT industry are a tiny drop in India's billion-plus population, they account for a huge chunk of the organized labor market -- almost a quarter of the formal work force. How will politicians and bureaucrats react to IT champions radically changing their operations, perhaps shrinking or even trying to move offshore?
When some Indian airlines, as part of a necessary restructuring, tried to trim bloated bits of their work force a few years ago, the government pressured them into retreating.
It's reasonable to fear that similar meddling might be in store for Indian IT. The three executives were members of an executive council disbanded after Tata dismissed chairman Cyrus Mistry on Monday.
The council, comprising five senior Tata group executives and Mistry, was tasked with creating long-term value for stakeholders and boosting returns on investment. Those who quit are group human resources chief N. Rajan; group business development and public affairs head Madhu Kannan; and group strategy executive Nirmalya Kumar.
Reuters could not reach any of the three for comment. Tata did not respond to an e-mail request for comment on Saturday. Reuters reported earlier this week that the other two council executives, Mukund Rajan and Harish Bhat, would take on senior level responsibilities within the Tata group. One person close to Tata said there was no certainty all the positions would be re-filled as the group's structure is likely to change with Mistry's exit.
Another person, however, said replacements could be named as early as next week, though there was no management crisis as each Tata company has its own team of public affairs and business development executives. But some governance experts say the resignations of senior executives risk increasing the sense of uncertainty at Tata. That prepared the ground for a "probe into the allegation of mismanagement of funds," said an official at the national Enforcement Directorate, on condition of anonymity.
The agency was not immediately available to comment. Tata did not respond to Reuters questions on this matter. An AirAsia India spokeswoman said she had no immediate comment. India's capital markets regulator is already looking into Mistry's allegations related to violations of corporate governance rules at Tata.
Employees and advocates are criticizing the move, saying it will leave the university and the UCSF Medical Center staff with inferior service and could endanger medical data. The UCSF workers, due to lose their jobs in February, are training their replacements, sometimes via videoconferencing to India.
Administrators say the university faces fiscal challenges. Disney laid off about IT workers, although some were brought back in different roles. Southern California Edison planned to pare about workers through layoffs and attrition to outsource its operations.
In , a Pakastani transcriber threatened to post confidential patient records unless she received more money. The threat was eventually withdrawn.
During the campaign, I also spent time with American workers who were laid off and forced to train. Foreign workers were brought in to replace them. We won't let this happen any more. India has come in for special mention not merely by Trump but by successive presidential candidates over the past decade, with the word "bangalored" becoming an acceptable verb.
The H-1B visa programme allows US employers to import up to 65, foreign workers with "highly specialised knowledge".
However, US studies have said the top users of the H-1B visa were outsourcing companies, mainly from India. Trump can reduce the cap on H-1B visas or raise the fees or auction them. He could also order that H-1B workers have to be paid higher wages which would make Americans more competitive. India's tech graduates fear America may shut them out. The year-old computer science student isn't planning to spend his career in India's version of Silicon Valley.
He hopes the big American investment bank will move him to its U. Related: Tech industry braces for Trump's visa reform The Trump administration is looking to make changes to a host of visa programs, including restricting the H-1B visa that allows thousands of Indian techies to work in the U. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said last month that this may be done "through executive order and through working with Congress.
Efforts to restrict foreign workers through legislation are already in progress -- multiple bills seeking curbs on the H-1B program have been introduced by Republican and Democrat lawmakers this year. Savita Rani, head of career counseling at the Ramaiah Institute of Technology where Suvalka studies, says jobs at outsourcing companies are in high demand because of the potential to move to the U.
But the possibility of America's doors slamming shut is already sowing confusion among students. Are H-1B visas being "hijacked" to lower labor costs? Bruce Morrison authored the H-1B visa bill in to allow American corporations to recruit the best foreign talent for emerging engineering and scientific jobs. But now Morrison says he is outraged by the way companies are abusing loopholes to outsource jobs to low-cost foreigners -- and sometimes even pressuring the displaced American workers to train their replacements.
Yet today, nearly every Silicon Valley tech company has brought in foreigners on H-1B visas and argue they can still use more because there are not enough Americans to fill those jobs.
Morrison is mad. The H-1B has been hijacked as the main highway to bring people from abroad and displace American workers. Many hi-tech jobs typically pay double that.
Adding insult to this travesty is the practice of pressuring displaced employees to train their replacements, usually through a modest financial incentive. He says they were replaced with Indian workers being paid half his salary with no benefits. Diangelo and his fellow workers were also financially incentivized to remain at Northeast Utilities, now called Eversource, to train their replacements.
During the process, he and his fellow staffers placed small American flags outside their offices as a quiet protest. A flag came down as each worker left the company after training a replacement. H1B visas: India talks tough, signals it may hit back over US curbs.
It is a situation which is not where only the Indian companies have to face the US executive order. There are many US companies in India which are doing business for some years now. If this debate has to be expanded, it has to be expanded to include all these aspects. We shall ensure that all these factors are kept in mind.
At the same time, I have no hesitation in saying that India will ensure that it shall not accept unfair treatment. This comes on top of the erosion of its competitive edge by automation and robotics. Already, the layoffs have started as projects get trimmed and margins take a hit. Lacking a well-honed, long-term strategy to cope with the political and economic forces aligned against it, the industry has responded timidly—petitioning and invoking contributions to the US economy and producing numbers to state its case.
Contrast that with his kids-glove treatment of China. All his threats of naming the country as a currency manipulator before the elections seem to have been silenced once the reality of possible Chinese retaliation hit home.
The Indian software services industry is a custodian not merely of its own fortunes but that of the future of an entire nation. Even as industry leaders Tata Consultancy Services Ltd, Infosys Ltd and Wipro Ltd examine the impact of these recent setbacks on their bottom lines, concluding mostly that it will be marginal, there is a far bigger issue at stake.
In an increasingly digital world, India has the manpower and the head-start needed to build the kind of global position that, for instance, Germany has in engineering or before that Britain built with its naval fleet.
It is something a country needs to keep working on through innovation. India's IT giants are laying off employees.
And the worst is yet to come. For years, campuses across India have relied on the mass hiring by the likes of Infosys, Tech Mahindra, Cognizant, etc as the placement hub for India's large crop of engineers.
But, of late, the sun has stopped shining on the sector. Major recruiters like Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant have been seen significant reduction in their workforce. The bad news though is that the worst is yet to come. For various reasons, we may see massive layoffs in the IT sector. Here's why: 1. The rise of automation Over the past few years, automation has gathered pace and, in the coming time, it promises to replace many jobs, especially of repetitive and mundane nature.
The competitive advantage in favour of automation has been increasing with technological advancement reducing cost, improving performance and wider applicability becoming possible. The Indian IT sector faces a serious challenge from automation as the nature of most jobs here is "mundane".
Besides, human discretion and intelligence are low enough to be easily replaced by automation. Australia, Singapore and many other popular lucrative markets too have introduced procedural changes making life difficult for Indians.
Getting a work visa has been made both time-consuming and costly. This will affect one of the most lucrative opportunities that our IT workforce enjoyed, and make it more difficult to employ middle-level employees whose higher salary expectations are difficult to fulfil within India in an industry, where mass hiring at the bottom to keep the cost low is the norm.
Rises of protectionist politics in US, Europe The rise of protectionist politics in advanced economies has increased the pressure on companies there to outsource contracts to local companies, instead of firms in India. This is making growth prospect more difficult for Indian IT companies. The proposed reduction in corporation taxation in the US as well as France will also further incentivise more of the IT big shots to shift back some, if not a major portion, operation back to the US.
All this again doesn't bode well for jobs in the Indian IT sector. Corporate governance and Indian IT brands Indian IT's fabled rise was built on the foundation of outstanding corporates who won the trust and respect of their stakeholders at home and abroad through admirable corporate governance.
But even as the industry needs the goodwill in these difficult times, the Indian IT bellwether have had a rather tough time negotiating corporate governance troubles. While TCS has seen Tata Sons being mired in a dirty and ugly boardroom struggle, Infosys, after years of being led by unsatisfactory successors to its founders, found a decent performer in Vishal Sikka.
But the respite seems short-lived as the current leadership has been engaged in a power-cum-perception struggle against Infosys old guard, notably Narayana Murthy, who has levelled and repeated some serious charges against the present leadership.
Sluggish global economy and low demand As such, the big ticket projects are far fewer in number now with the global economy slowing compared to the initial decade of the millennium when Indian IT sector came of age. Information Technology companies like Infosys, Cognizant and Tech Mahindra have announced redundancies this year and some analysts have said that this string of layoffs are expected to continue for the next two years. A recent report from McKinsey India says that at least , software engineers in India will lose their jobs each year over the next three years.
According to local media reports, tech giant Infosys had earlier announced its plans to lay off about 1, employees at senior levels based on performance-based processes, the company also then announced its plans to hire 10, Americans over the next two years — a move many analysts have said will please U.
President Donald Trump. Following this move, other companies such as Cognizant announced their plans to cut 6, jobs. This will undoubtedly benefit U. President Donald Trump's "America First" agenda and focus on curbing immigration especially around the much-sought-after H-1B visa policy may hurt India's massive information technology sector that forms a strong base for the country's economy. Data from Goldman Sachs estimates that Indians accounted for nearly ,, or And hence, President Trump's decision to steer his policies towards "America First" is clearly going to hurt these professionals as well as Indian software companies.
But there are divergent views on whether the redundancies in India by major IT companies have anything to do with Trump's policies. The Indian IT sector employs more than 3 million, according to industry body Nasscom. IT companies such as Infosys and Wipro grew rapidly over the past three decades by hiring huge numbers of Indian software engineers to perform software installation and maintenance work for global companies, at relatively low cost. But recruiters say the companies now appear to be cutting staff at an increasing rate, as they focus their businesses on fast-growing, cutting-edge fields such as data analytics and connected devices, which require smaller numbers of more highly-skilled staff.
Cloud computing lets groups tap into generic platforms, easily creating company software without the need for outside consultants. Its applications in recent months from jobhunters in IT services were at least 50 per cent higher than in recent years, she said. Infosys this month promised to hire 10, workers in the US.
The worries about job cuts in the industry reflect global concerns about the potential for rapidly developing automation to create unemployment — a particular concern in India, where about 1m young people enter the workforce each month.
The companies themselves have downplayed the scale of headcount reduction. Lay-offs have also hit senior staff, as companies see less need for managers to handle large teams, said Kris Lakshimanth, chairman of Headhunters India, who estimates job inquiries from such people have doubled since last year.
The website quotes Mick Rix, GMB national officer for aviation, as saying then that a march will be held "in protest as the company plans to outsource and offshore work to one of the biggest IT majors in India. Green, of Frisco, is white and rose to the rank of "head of global immigration" while working in the company's Plano office.
He was terminated in June of , ostensibly for violating Infosys' "code of conduct by using his work computer for personal use a number of years earlier. An Infosys spokeswoman said the company is "not in a position to comment on ongoing litigation. While less than 5 percent of the U.
US lawmakers urge Trump to press India's Modi on trade, investment. Meletios I. Niros PhD. Keti Ventura. RA A Rather. Frankie Balboa. Haywantee Ramkissoon PhD. Dominic Appiah. Publishing India Group. Murtaza Itoo. Leena James. Ram Singh. Log in with Facebook Log in with Google. Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.
Need an account? Click here to sign up. Download Free PDF. Related Papers. Enhancing Knowledge Development in Marketing. Proposal of a web site engagement scale and research model. Analysis of the influence of intra web site comparative behaviour. Customer share of visits to full-service restaurants in response to perceived value and contingency variables.
The virtual maven: a study of market maven behavior in physical, web and virtual world channels. Measuring brand value in real and virtual worlds: An axiological approach using PLS. I thank my dissertation committee for their support towards this project. I especially thank Dr. Sharon Beatty for her insightful feedback and comments on the countless drafts of this manuscript and her support throughout my entire tenure as a graduate student.
My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Rob Morgan for the hours he spent helping me with my conceptualization of this difficult construct and keeping me reigned in when my ideas became too far reaching, not to mention the administrative support he ensures for all his students. I appreciate the support of Dr. Randall Schumacker and Dr.
George Franke wherever I got stuck in my analysis. In Dr. Dan Bachrach I found mentors who were willing to listen to me and guiding me whenever I hit a mental block.
In addition, I would like to thank the faculty during whose courses I built up on my ideas. I owe each and every one of my students and friends, especially Dr.
Mandy Ortiz, a special thank you for supporting me along the way and for helping me collect data and insights at different stages. It would not have been possible without your support. The patience and love of my parents and in-laws has seen my family through every difficult moment while I was working on this project. I owe an enormous and special thanks to my loving family, my husband Vivek and my daughters Rolika and Suhani, for their constant support over the course of my doctoral program, and it is to them that this dissertation is dedicated.
Current and Expanded Domain of Relationship Marketing Overview of Research Sequence Differentiation of Constructs Compared to Consumer Engagement Sequence and Focus of Qualitative Study Data Analysis and Categories of Findings Scale Development Process Correlation Matrix of CE and Involvement Correlation Matrix of Endogenous Variables Alpha Reliabilities of Endogenous Variables Demographic Characteristics of the Samples Resident Sample Activity at Second Life Correlation Matrix of Endogenous Variables Apple Correlation Matrix of Endogenous Variables Shopping Conceptual Framework of Consumer Engagement Nomological Structure of Consumer Engagement Conceptual Model of Consumer Engagement Mediated Effects Models of CE Incremental Effects Models of CE The interactions in the customer-company relationship are driven by the firm, and the outcomes of these interactions are measured in terms of exchanges of products and services.
This construct explores the connection customers, prospects and potentials form with organizations, that are based in their experiences with the offerings and activities of the organizations. The consumers build these experience- based relationships through intense participation by way of unique experiences embedded in the offerings and activities of the organizations. This research will establish the need for and scope of the construct of consumer engagement CE ; provide a conceptual framework of consumer engagement; work towards developing a theory and measure of consumer engagement; and empirically test some outcomes of engaging consumers.
Due to practical constraints in including all the three contexts in this study, the construct will be tested in business-to-consumer context. This research will answer this call in a business-to-consumer context.
The service-dominant logic suggests that all business actions should start with understanding the customer value-creating activities. Even Payne, Storbacka and Frow , p. Through blogs, feeds, podcasts, and public events, companies are also providing platforms for consumers to interact with one-another. From the managerial perspective, this research will explore the nature of engagement from the perspective of the consumer.
What role are consumers expecting organizations to play when they allow themselves to be engaged? What values do consumers expect to derive by being engaged with certain offerings and activities? Answers to these questions will give a better understanding of where the managers should focus their strategies in order to engage the consumers. The research involves collection of qualitative as well as quantitative data. Qualitative work involved field interviews with executives, focus groups, participant observations, phenomenological interviews with consumers, analysis of online comments and an open-ended survey.
The qualitative study was done to develop a better understanding of the nature of CE, to develop a comprehensive definition and explore dimensions, to support theory development for the construct, and to generate items for the measure of consumer engagement. The qualitative data was collected in several stages. In stage 1 of quantitative data collection, the generated items are being assessed with a student sample of approximately students.
In stage 2, another set of quantitative data was collected. This data from non-students was used to purify and validate the scale. Later in stage 3, a third dataset from non-students was collected to test correlations with marketing outcome variables. The detailed research methods for each step are discussed in the later chapters. In spite of such efforts by some researchers, RM research has mostly limited itself to studying the development and retention of customers in buyer-seller relationships that are solely based on exchange.
The approach taken by Vargo and Lusch , and Prahalad and Ramaswamy , , calls for broadening the view of RM research to include the experiences of prospects, potentials, as well as the value configurations as a whole. In spite of these calls for broadening the domain of RM research, even the most recent academic work under the umbrella of service dominant logic continues to focus on buyer-seller relationships which are essentially bound by exchange e.
Payne, Storbacka and Frow Based on the writings of different researchers, table 1. This way, the relationship marketing approach in its current form is silent about the acquisition of customers. First, it does not account for the huge efforts organizations target towards prospects. How do we explain the millions of dollars Microsoft spends on making computers available to school students?
Second, the current paradigm of relationship marketing also does not explain RM programs of organizations that are not product-centric e. Third, there are occasions when customers and prospects interact amongst themselves. This interaction mostly influences their consumption decisions. For example, lots of prospects read online reviews from other customers, and product rating third-party websites e.
The existing constructs in the domain of RM do not consider the influence of such interactions. The literature on customer communities addresses some of these relationships, but a new construct is needed that could encompass the interactions among organizations, organizational networks, customers, prospects and potentials in what Vargo and Lusch call the value configurations. The new construct: 1 should be based on experiences of consumers, irrespective of the exchange, and 2 should capture the participation of consumers within and outside of the exchange situations.
This is important because, in the evolving marketing paradigm, relationships are not just between buyers and sellers, but between any combination of and among prospects, potentials, society, buyers, their extended relatioships, and sellers. CE is a construct that meets these two requirements and thus attempts to contribute toward expanding the domain of relationship marketing. Conceptual Foundation The conceptual foundations of this research lie in the theory of consumption values, the consumer value perspective, and the existing literature on engagement and customer engagement.
In the past decade or so, research has also shown that value is not just economic Holbrook or functional, but also emotional, epistemic, conditional Sheth et al.
The exchange paradigm suggests that exchange and the resulting functional or economic value precedes experience, as well as the non-functional values explored by phenomenological researchers. This way, recent research shows that the meaning of value and the process of value creation are rapidly shifting from a product, organization and exchange-centric view to personalized consumer experiences. Given the new marketing programs mentioned earlier, consumer experiences, as well as the non-utilitarian value may or may not be solely dependent on exchange.
Considerable conceptual and descriptive work has been done on the topic of engagement across various disciplines. However, there are gaps in our understanding of how, why and when the consumers engage themselves with offerings and activities. I will draw from the growing body of literature on engagement in psychology; customer engagement in practitioner literature, information systems, and marketing; employee engagement in psychology and management; and literature on related constructs such as participation, involvement, connections, co-creation, and brand communities in the fields of psychology, management and marketing.
Specifically, the research on customer engagement is predominately qualitative and descriptive, done primarily in an online context, and lacking an overarching or generalizable theory and measure of this behavior. To establish the need for and scope of the construct of consumer engagement. To define consumer engagement and determine its dimensions.
To develop and partially test a theory of consumer engagement. To develop a measure of consumer engagement. To empirically test some outcomes of engaging consumers. Research Methods Different methods are applicable to different objectives of this research.
While the first three objectives involve extensive use of qualitative techniques, the fourth objective, measure development, is accomplished by a combination of qualitative and quantitative data. The final objective of testing relationships with certain marketing outcomes is further accomplished empirically through the use of survey research.
Another eight people were interviewed to understand CE from consumer perspective. I also analyzed about online comments or postings in order to understand the nature of engagement. This has helped me understand the nature and determine the scope of CE. This collection of qualitative data also helped me define the construct and determine its dimensions conceptually. The qualitative information helped me to develop a pool of generalizable items for the measure of CE.
The items were reviewed by 20 undergraduate students, 5 PhD students and 3 non-students for wording and relevance. For the first empirical study, 37 items were retained which were assessed using data from a student sample. At this stage 3 new items to measure social interaction were also added. The final CE scale has 10 items reflecting 3 dimensions.
Stage 2 involved data collection from a representative sample to validate the scale. In this stage, students in some of the marketing classes recruited participants for extra credit. This data was subjected to confirmatory factor analysis using SEM, which lead to the final scale.
The steps taken to validate the scale are addressed in chapters 4, 5 and 6. In stage 3, data was again collected to measure the relationship of consumer engagement with several important marketing outcome variables, and to more fully validate the scale nomologically.
The marketing outcomes measured at this stage included value, goodwill creation, connections with the company, intent to do business and affective commitment. The scale development process followed in this research is given in Table 1. Table 1. This chapter presents the rationale for the study, its importance, an overview of the methodology, and sets the conceptual foundations for the construct. Chapter 2 reviews related literature and introduces the variables related to CE.
This chapter reviews existing literature on engagement and consumer engagement; compares and contrasts CE with connection, participation, co-creation and co-production, brand communities, involvement, attachment, and consumer devotion; and discusses value and connections, two important consequences of consumer engagement.
Chapter 3 discusses the nature, scope and framework of CE. As the nature, scope and framework have been derived from qualitative work, this chapter also discusses each step in the qualitative data collection in detail.
Chapter 4 discusses the initial scale development efforts undertaken and presents the operationalization of the measures to be used in the study and the research methods used to validate the measures and to establish the nomological validity of the construct. Chapter 6 discusses the procedures and results of studies 2 and 3.
Finally, overall research results are discussed in Chapter 7, followed by a discussion of the implications, limitations and future research. Given that CE is a construct not yet developed in marketing, I will draw from the growing body of literature on engagement in psychology; customer engagement in practitioner literature, information systems, and marketing; and employee engagement in psychology and management. This literature is summarized in Table 2.
In this Chapter, I first discuss the current use of engagement in the literature. Second, I individually review related constructs such as connection, customer participation, co-creation and co-production, brand communities, involvement, attachment, and devotion. Following a review of the literature for each construct, I compare engagement to these constructs in order to differentiate them and demonstrate the distinguishing characteristics of consumer engagement.
This differentiation has also been summarized in Table 2. Third, I review literature on consumer value and connection as being affected by consumer engagement. Engagement This section discusses the existing conceptualizations of engagement and customer engagement. Table 2. As the table shows, the term engagement has been used in the marketing literature, but not defined systematically.
This section briefly discusses the relevant literature on engagement, which has also been summarized in Table 2. Suggests customers organization and with should take the role of custodians other customers in a collaborative knowledge exchange process.
Wikipedia Suggests CE is an online social Engagement of phenomenon, where customer customers with one Wiki dictionary behavior revolves around product another, with a categories. Gives other definitions of CE, and discusses marketing practices Shantanu Narayen CEO On redefining the motto of Adobe Health of a company relies on the Creating meaningful Adobe extent to which it creates meaningful and sustainable Interview and sustainable interactions interactions Richard Sedley Customer Engagement Director, Customer Engagement Survey Repeated interactions cScape that strengthen the Practitioner literature emotional, psychological or physical investment a customer has in a brand.
Preston CE is deeper than just humoring None customers or paying lip service to Practitioner literature them. Describing the behavior of engaged employees, he suggested that employees vary in their expression of selves in work roles. Those who perceive more supportive conditions for authentic expression tend to be engaged.
On the other hand, Maslach, Schaufeli and Leiter , p. Stressing the assumption of optimal functioning in terms of well-being Hallberg and Schaufeli , the concept of engagement in various sub-fields of psychology has been dimensionalized as involving vigor, dedication and absorption Schaufeli et al.
Dedication is characterized by a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. Rothbard suggests two dimensions of engagement, attention and absorption. On the other hand, Maslach considers engagement to be the opposite of burnout. Kahn suggested three psychological conditions for employee engagement: meaningfulness; psychological safety; and availability.
A collection of definitions in Table 2. As the summary of literature in Table 2. As summarized in Table 2. Although the existing conceptualizations, especially the definition of Wagner and Majchrzak , recognize the importance of participation, these definitions fail to recognize that even prospects and potentials participate in online conversations and exchange of views and ideas.
Although the existing studies recognize the benefits organizations might derive from engaging customers, these studies do not recognize the several values consumers might derive from their connection with a company.
Broadening the scope of customer engagement, consumer engagement involves customers, prospects and potentials; online and offline marketing programs; individual organizations as well as organizational networks.
Engaged consumers may derive any or all possible extrinsic and intrinsic values from being engrossed with an offering or activity. The importance of engaging the consumer has been recognized in the existing literature. However, customer engagement until now has been predominantly researched in online contexts under the exchange paradigm, with very few if any, systematic or empirical attempts to explore and operationalize the construct.
Most of the work on customer engagement is descriptive in nature. Sawhney, Verona and Prandelli studied two cases of online product development to suggest how differing levels of customer involvement can facilitate collaborative innovation.
Studies also suggest that the interaction of customer engagement and employee engagement result in better performance. Fleming, Coffman and Harter found that business units with even moderately high levels of employee and customer engagement are financially more effective, as compared to those with very high levels of either customer or employee engagement.
More recently, Bowden provided a conceptual framework of the process of customer engagement, which is based on the extent to which customers are either new or repeat purchasers of a specific service brand. Thus, we can see that consumer engagement has not been empirically conceptualized and defined in the existing literature.
The existing conceptualizations of the construct are narrow and inconsistent. Several themes emerge from the existing literature on customer engagement. First, customer engagement has been recognized as an emotional connection between a company and its customers Narayen ; Rieger and Kamins Second, customer engagement is focused on interaction with and participation of customers Wagner and Majchrzak ; Nambisan Third, knowledge exchanges with and between customers are the key to engaging customers.
Fourth, the existing literature suggests certain antecedents and outcomes of customer engagement. Organizational processes, enabling technologies, goal alignment with customers, organizational monitoring processes, and the different roles customers want to take affect the extent to which customer can be engaged Wagner and Majchrzak ; Bakker et al.
Moreover, businesses are primarily engaging customers into the product development life-cycles, involving customers in product and process innovations von Hippel ; Joshi and Sharma ; Nambisan ; Thomke and von Hippel Engagement was first conceptualized in psychology in and has been studied since then. However, because of their applicability to their specific contexts, these conceptualizations cannot be applied to the consumer context.
Customer engagement has also been explored and studied in recent academic and practitioner literature but not conceptualized systematically. The existing literature has some constructs similar to consumer engagement, which I will discuss in the next section. Similar Constructs This section discusses existing constructs that are similar to consumer engagement.
The relevant literature related to each construct is briefly reviewed. Thereafter, consumer engagement is compared with and differentiated from each of these contructs. This differentiation is also summarized in Table 2.
Vargo and Lusch argue that the customer always participates as a coproducer. Dabholkar , p. The levels at which the customers participate may range from firm production, joint production to customer production Meuter and Bitner The first set of studies explores, from an organizational perspective, the reasons customers should participate.
These studies focus on the economic benefits of substituting employees with customers for certain portions of labor e. The second stream of research in customer participation focuses on employing traditional employee management models to manage customers as partial employees Bendapudi and Leone Claycomb, Lengrich, and Inks proposed that increasingly active customer participation in service provision leads to corresponding increase in customer socialization.
This increases the perceived service quality as well as satisfaction Dabholkar Kelley, Donnelly, and Skinner proposed a conceptual service quality framework. This captures the behavioral and emotional outcomes that result from the socialization that occurs as customers participate.
Research in this stream has studied the motivation Bateson , effect of consumer traits and situational factors on technology adoption Dabholkar and Bagozzi , and factors influencing initial trial decisions in self-service technologies Meuter et al. Meuter et al. They reported that when customers participate in the service recovery process, they are more likely to have higher role clarity, perceive more value in future co-creation, be more satisfied with the service recovery, and have greater intentions to co-create value in the future.
The next section discusses the literature on co- creation and co-production, and differentiates it from consumer engagement. Co-creation and Co-production Customer participation has always been studied in the context of co-creation, also termed co-production by many researchers. Recent research on co-creation focused on effectiveness of operational efficiency and marketing strategy Kalaignanam and Varadrajan ; mutually satisfying consumption Oliver ; integrated value-chain management Flint and Mentzer ; cross functional processes Lambert and Garcia-Dastugue ; co-creating the voice of the customer Jaworski and Kohli , and cocreating value Payne, Storbacka and Frow Payne, Storbacka and Frow mention five types of co-creation situations.
These include emotional engagement of customers through advertising and promotional activities, self- service, customers being part of an experience provided by the supplier e. Interactive voice and key-board response systems when contacting call-centers , and co-designing of products. As can be seen from this list of co-creation situations, customer participation in existing research has been studied only in the context of an exchange. Customer participation happens during the purchase decision-making process, after the buying decision has been made, during the exchange process, or after the exchange.
This way exchange is an antecedent condition simultaneous to participation. Secondly, participation in the context of an exchange involves activity, i. As Margolin puts it, experience has an operative and a reflective dimension. Assumption of exchange as an antecedent condition to participation, as well as the sole focus on the activity dimension of participation, differentiates the construct of customer participation from consumer engagement.
Consumer Engagement focuses on experiences, and not exchange, as the context in which the consumer is engaged. This experience may happen with or without an actual exchange. Moreover, consumer engagement focuses not only on the operative dimension of participation, but also the reflective dimension. The following section discusses the literature of brand communities and differentiates it from consumer engagement.
The concept of consumption communities was first proposed by historian Daniel Boorstin Socially embedded consumption of this type enhances the utilitarian nature of a product or service with the value that comes from connecting to a community of users. Most research on communities is generally qualitative and descriptive Redden and Steiner Wellman suggests that due to the presence of inexpensive and accessible communications, the notion of community has been freed from geographical bindings.
A community might not be limited to a certain geographical area, but might be spread across geographical boundaries. The members in such communities are bonded not because of physical proximity, but because they share common beliefs and ideas. Anderson and Gellner even argued that most large communities are imagined. People are united through the notion of shared understanding with others. They see brand communities as customer-centric. This way, in brand communities, consumption, and not experience, is focal to the construct.
In such communities, the product is not an operand resource Vargo and Lusch , an instrument, or a medium to seek certain experiences, but is the focus of community. In contrast, for engaged consumers, consumption of a product or brand may be secondary, only instrumental in creating the experiences they seek. Instead of focusing on the product or brand, consumer engagement focuses on the experience shared with others of a situation, a need, or a problem that engages consumers.
Unlike in brand communities, the experience in engagement could be personal or shared with others. However, flow typically refers to rather particular, short-term peak experiences instead of a more pervasive and persistent state of mind, as is the case with engagement.
Unlike communities of fans and devotees, the social context of engaged consumers also varies from being rich to being nearly devoid of it. These differences suggest that engagement is a construct different from communities, although on several occasions, engagement might result in community membership or vice versa.
Involvement has been developed as a psychological construct predictive of sports related behavior Funk, Ridinger, and Moorman ; Luschen and Sage ; Shank and Beasley , products and shopping decisions Hawes and Lumpkin ; Keller ; Slama and Tashchian ; Zinkhan and Locander , and leisure literature Bloch and Bruce ; Unger and Kernan Due to the studies spanning several disciplines, involvement has been approached in several different ways.
Antil once made an attempt to gain a conceptual and operational understanding of involvement related studies in consumer behavior, followed by Zaichkowsky , who then conceptualized it as personal relevance. Andrews, Durvasula, and Akhter sought to build a framework of involvement from an advertising perspective. More recently, Howard and Kerin studied involvement from the perspective of broadening the scope of reference price advertising research. Consequences of involvement are posited in the domain of information processing-attention and comprehension processes Celsi and Olson , motivation to process Bloch, Sherrell, and Ridgway , types of processing Mittal and interactions Levy and Nebenzahl , as well as repurchase loyalty Olsen The construct of involvement has had varied conceptualizations.
Researchers have viewed involvement as an internal state indicating arousal, interest, or drive invoked by a stimulus or a situation Bloch ; Andrews, Durvasula, and Akhter This suggests that involvement has been conceptualized as a cognitive, affective or motivational construct indicating state of mind Smith and Godbey , or perceived personal relevance Zaichkowsky ; Richins and Bloch ; Celsi and Olson Involvement might lead to greater external search Beatty and Smith , greater depth of processing Burnkrant and Sawyer , more elaboration likelihood through peripheral or central routes of persuasion Petty and Cacioppo , gaining more experience, product trials Robertson ; Krugman , or other search behaviors.
Thus involvement may be differentiated as a precursor to behavioral conceptualization of CE. CE is clearly a behavioral construct which focuses on actions. Involvement would be an antecedent of CE. The next section discusses attachment and differentiates it from consumer engagement. Attachment Attachment is a construct truly embedded in exchange. Object attachment has been found to strongly impact use of products, and may define or strengthen the sense of identity of consumers Ahuvia ; Falk and Campbell Attachment is an affective construct and strongly associated with ownership or possession of objects or products, and so is different from CE.
However, attachment could lead to engagement in several situations. The next section discusses consumer devotion and differentiates it from consumer engagement. Consumer Devotion Existing literature describes devotion as a transcendent experience.
Devotion has been described as an expression of identity, as an increased motivation toward, and an attachment to an object that does not have temporal or geographic boundaries Hunt, Bristol, and Bashaw, Based on a model of devotion, Pimentel and Reynolds argued that sport-related devotion is generalizable to mainstream brands.
Devotion to a brand is accompanied by proactive sustaining behaviors, and the devoted consumers reach a level of loyalty so intense that the loyalty survives poor product performance, scandal, bad publicity, and absence of promotional efforts. Their model indicates that consumer devotion exists when there is product significance beyond utilitarian and commercial value.
To extreme devotees or fanatics, possession attachment Ball and Tasaki ; Kleine and Baker can take on sacred meaning, be described in religious terms, and become a reflection of personal identity Belk ; Belk and Costa ; Holbrook ; Hunt, Bristol, and Bashaw ; Pimentel and Reynolds This definition suggests that longer durations, self-identification are key in consumer devotion. These elements of consumer devotion also differentiate it from consumer engagement which is behavioral, and is not necessarily enduring.
Several constructs in the existing literature are similar to consumer engagement. These include brand communities, customer participation, involvement, attachment and consumer devotion. These constructs were briefly discussed in this section. This section also showed how these constructs are different from consumer engagement. Next, I discuss two important consequences of consumer engagement, value and connections.
Consequences of Engagement This section discusses literature related to value and connection. Consumers derive a range of functional and non-functional values as a result of being engaged with organizations. Consumer engagement also results into high quality emotional connection between consumers and the organizations that initiate the engagement.
Therefore, value and connection are two important consequences of engagement discussed in this section. Consumption Values In an attempt to explain consumer choice decisions, Sheth, Newman, and Gross , argued that consumer choice is a function of multiple consumption values.
Emphasizing that the determinants of choice are consumption values and not purchase criteria, Sheth, Newman, and Gross identified five consumption values that drive all market choice behavior: functional, social, emotional, epistemic and conditional.
These consumption values are independent and make differential contributions in any choice situation Sheth, Newman, and Gross , The functional value is utilitarian or extrinsic in nature. Traditionally functional value was considered to be the primary driver of consumer choice. However, consumers can also derive value through association with social groups social value , feelings associated with the consumption emotional value , curiosity, novelty or knowledge acquisition epistemic value , antecedent physical or social contingencies that might enhance any other value conditional value.
Despite difficulties with these issues, the consumption value theory has the appeal of neatness and simplicity, as observed by Schiffman and Kanuk The theory primarily suggests that the consumption values a consumer seeks out, are what determine their choice. Although the theory of consumption values has been used to test several consumer choice situations, until now it has been limited to the study of exchange.
Consumption values can also be applied to experiences. I now discuss the consumer value perspective which broadly categorizes consumer values as intrinsic or extrinsic. Consumer Value Perspective Work on experiential marketing emphasizes emotional, contextual, symbolic and non- utilitarian aspects of consumption Arnould and Thompson Suggesting that value resides in the experience, Holbrook , p.
The reflective dimension addresses the way we think about a product and give it meaning. Based on the definition of value as experience, Holbrook identifies three dimensions on a continuum characterizing user value--intrinsic versus extrinsic, self-oriented versus other-oriented, and active versus reactive.
Intrinsic values involve appreciating an experience for its own sake and enjoying the process, while extrinsic values will serve as a means to an end. Consumers deriving extrinsic value focus on the outcome of the experience, such as the knowledge gained out of co-creating a service, or the freebies associated with learning the art of makeup at Sephora. The second dimension, self-oriented versus other- oriented, corresponds to whether an experience is valued because of its benefits to the user, or because of the reactions it draws from others.
Finally, the active-reactive dimension represents a distinction regarding whether there is a manipulation of the object of experience by the user or vice versa. Art objects have a reactive value, their benefits resulting from passive admiration. On the other hand, an iPod has an active value derived by creating customized music from it. Deighton and Grayson emphasize that consumer collaboration is a necessary prerequisite to creating a playful experience.
When an experience is appreciated for its ability to facilitate excellence, autonomy, self- expression and uniqueness, enables use of personal inherent capabilities not exercised in the daily routine, or realizes hidden fantasies, individuals are deriving extrinsic value from the experience.
Value is also the primary motivation for entering into marketing relationships Peterson With the growth of the concept of retail theater Baron, Harris, and Harris such an interaction outside of exchange is becoming commonplace amongst consumers. Value has been conceptualized Houston and Gassenheimer ; Neal ; Woodruff and empirically demonstrated Bolton and Drew ; Sirdeshmukh, Singh, and Sabol as central to marketing activity.
The engagement initiatives of organizations are also designed to be consumer-value centric. An engaged consumer is expected to derive intrinsic and extrinsic value from the experience Holbrook The value resulting from an engaging experience is further expected to drive several marketing outcomes Sirdeshmukh, Singh, and Sabol ; Srivastava, Shervani, and Fahey ; Heskett, Sasser, and Schlesinger This research will contribute to the existing knowledge about the key role of value by studying the differential impact of intrinsic and extrinsic value.
I now discuss another effect of engagement, connection, in the following section. Connection Heaphy and Dutton , p. It implies that two people have interacted …. However, quality of connection has not been consistently defined in the literature.
It has been defined to imply relationship strength Mills and Clark , emotional weight of attachment Kahn , or emotional weight coupled with reciprocity and frequency of communication Granovetter Heaphy and Dutton suggest that quality of connection is indicated by three clusters-features of actual connection, and individual experience of each party in the connection.
For this research, I define connection as an emotional bond or positive attachment that the consumer may have with a company. The construct has been studied in organizational context, including organization- employee relationships Hochschild , and in the context of well-being and health Nix et al.
Hochschild suggested that by virtue of the amount of time spent at work, employees are significantly affected by the connections they form at work. Thus connections impact organizational functioning significantly. Dutton and Heaphy define the quality of connection in terms of a connective tissue between individuals, which can be life-giving or life-depleting. Communication, interaction, and even interdependent exchange might happen even in low-quality connection, but there is a slow decay or death in every interaction Dutton Contacts involving mutually aware, social interactions have a living tissue, that Berscheid and Lopes called connection.
Studied also as bond e. Baumeister and Leary or space between Josselson , some researchers conceptualize connection as enduring Reis , or recurring Gutek Some other researchers like Hallowell suggest that irrespective of the duration, a connection depends on active participation of the parties involved. Gersick, Bartunek, and Dutton on the other hand emphasized the importance of reflection in connection, suggesting that high-quality connections are lived, felt and sensed.
High levels of participation from both sides in an engaging situation are expected to result in a strong connection of the consumer with the company which is important for an enduring relationship. Value, a super ordinate goal, is an important consequence of consumer engagement from the marketing perspective. Consumer engagement also results in the formation of high-quality connections with the company.
Such connections are important to enduring consumer-company relationships. Conclusion Engagement was first conceptualized by Kahn , who studied its psychological pre- conditions. Early in this century, research interest in engagement regenerated and different conceptualizations of engagement came up. However, because of their specific nature, they are not applicable to the consumer context. Review of existing literature suggests that customer engagement has been popular in the practitioner literature.
Organizations have been launching programs to engage customers and measuring levels of customer engagement. There are several constructs similar to CE, such as brand communities, customer participation, involvement, attachment and consumer devotion, but all are embedded in the customer-company exchange relationship. Due to this, the existing constructs do not explain consumer-company relationships that are independent of an exchange.
Consumer engagement results in several outcomes for consumers and companies. Two important consequences of consumer engagement are value and connection.
Value, a primary consequence of consumer engagement, is fundamental to marketing activity. Consumer engagement also results in high-quality connections with companies, which are important for enduring consumer-company relationships. In the next chapter, drawing from previous research and exploratory work, I will discuss the nature of consumer engagement, its scope and framework.
However, the nature of engagement among consumers, prospects, and potentials has not been empirically explored. This chapter discusses the nature of consumer engagement, its dimensions, scope, and conceptual framework.
This discussion is based on the analysis of qualitative data generated over a period of eight months. Based on qualitative data collection recommendations by Corbin and Strauss , Patton , Glaser and Strauss , and Denzin and Lincoln , data were gathered from a combination of interviews, focus groups, participant observation, analysis of online comments, open-ended surveys, and written documents.
Table 3. During the process of collecting qualitative data, I had frequent interactions with my advisors, in which we discussed the qualitative findings and charted future directions of the study.
Methodology and Data Collection Using an open-ended, less structured, qualitative approach to inquiry, theory emerged as a consequence of reflection on the data. The various data collection and analysis procedures were based on a foundation of grounded theory Corbin and Strauss and constant comparison approach Glaser and Strauss, The preliminary analysis of each method of data collection and the categories of primary findings are summarized in Table 3.
Phenomenology and constant comparison methods allowed me to reflect on emerging themes through the use of interviews, observations, and oral and written descriptions. According to Boeije , the constant comparison method CCM is at the heart of qualitative analysis.
I used a variety of qualitative techniques to explore the nature, dimensions, scope and framework of consumer engagement.
The activities were not strictly done in the sequence mentioned in Table 3. Some activities had partial overlap e. Some other techniques were combined within the same temporal frame and physical settings, such as participant observation and phenomenological interviews. Further, on all occasions, the limits of one technique were overcome by the use of different methods and tools, such as camera, video recording, online documents, and exchange of emails.
At each stage, I revised the understanding of the construct as well as the pool of items being generated and validated findings in a variety of ways. Overall, data collection aimed to gather multiple perspectives.
Data were gathered through field interviews with managers in business-to-business B2B as well as business-to-consumer B2C contexts. Frontline employees who were directly dealing with engagement activities were also interviewed. Focus groups were conducted to get multiple consumer perspectives of engagement. Participant observation for several engagement events was also conducted to have a firsthand feel of the experiences of consumers.
As shown in Table 3. These consumers were interviewed before, during, immediately after, and well after they were engaged with the offering or activity. I also collected a range of foci of engagement through open-ended surveys with students and non-students. Capturing perspectives from different vantage points allowed a more thorough examination of the topic area. As the interviews progressed, uncovered sampling areas were identified and participants recruited to fill those uncovered areas.
This ensured that as we identified key issues and areas, we addressed them through adequate sampling in subsequent stages. Interviews were conducted in a variety of locations mutually agreed upon by the participant and the interviewer. Some of the field interviews with front line retail theater experts were conducted on-site, during or immediately after the engagement event; others were conducted in the offices of the executives, or on telephone.
Five phenomenological interviews were conducted in-situ, others at different locations. Focus groups were held in undergraduate classes. All interviews were audio- taped and transcribed later. After completion of each interview, memos were written by the interviewer. I will now discuss the findings from field and phenomenological interviews. Findings from Qualitative Data Findings from Field Interviews This section discusses the findings from the field interviews with managers.
The initial field interviews were meant to capture the perspective of executives to develop an understanding of the same from managerial perspective.
I interviewed 18 executives associated with a range of industries representing business-to-business, business-to-consumer, services, products, online and offline contexts such as marketing consulting, cosmetics, logistics, hospitality, and retail. The interviewees included male as well as female executives, of different ages, with varying lengths of experience, working at different hierarchical levels such as supervisors, managers, senior managers, vice presidents.
The interviewees were asked two questions. In your opinion, what is 'consumer engagement'? How would you define it? At what point would you consider a consumer to be 'engaged' with your company? The term customer engagement is already popular in practice. These two questions were designed to be broad enough to elicit opinions of executives regarding the need for the construct and what it means to businesses.
The responses helped explore the domain and conceptual framework for the construct from managerial perspective. The respondents believed that engaging the customer is about building the relationship at multiple levels. If you have layers, multiple layers of the relationship………also having multiple touch points with the customer. Personal Interview, Group Account Executive: 13 years exp. Other interviews supported this view and suggested that engagement involves having a relationship that is deeper than making purchases.
Based on how he engaged his clients, an interviewee attempted to define engagement as follows: By having the relationship so strong with a client on a level outside of the day to day that if a competitor comes in that client is engaged in me as a person and has me as the face of the company or what we deliver.
And my goal is to make sure that that client likes me on a genuine level. To me, aside from the obvious continuously bringing and delivering of new and innovative ideas, I think that builds a definite engagement with my client. I probably am the most informal person when it comes to building relationships. I go right to the personal side and a lot of times that actually helps. I have never lost any major business. Personal Interview, Account Supervisor: 14 years exp. Although relationships are two-way and so is consumer engagement, the initiative to engage has to be taken by businesses.
Individual consumer characteristics will then influence the success of those attempts. All consumers will not respond equally to the engagement initiatives. Personal Interview, Vice President and Group Account Director: 10 years The interviews uncovered a lot of elements of a successful engagement strategy.
Interviewees stressed the need to be genuine while building client relationships and engaging the customer, to be authentic in their attempts to engage the customer, and to go beyond the obvious business relationship. It is also important for the company to let the client have a face for the company, which many firms do by appointing Key Account Executives for larger accounts in B2B relationships.
Executives also suggested that for engaging the customer, it is important that an effort is made to put value in each communication with the customer. From the perspective of some interviewees, ensuring relevancy of the initiatives to the customer was important for the engagement programs to be successful.
Field interviews also confirmed that engaging the consumer can lead to strong marketing outcomes, such as word-of-mouth, receiving value, loyalty, share of wallet, and cross-selling. Personal Interview, Senior Director, 25 years exp. Because they feel they are receiving value from you greater than they are giving. Personal Interview, Account General Manager: 15 years exp. The importance of engaging customers is ensuring that ultimately you keep them longer, you encourage them to talk about your brand or product or service, and that the customer spends more across the range of products and services that you offer.
The field interviews stressed the emotional context in engaging customers even in the B2B context. So the emotional context is confidence and trust, commitment, the behavioral context is action. So of these, some are measurable, some are hard to measure.
Besides emotional context, his description of engagement also emphasizes the active as well as reflective aspect of engagement. An engaged customer not only interacts with the company in different ways, but also reflects on the relationship a lot. But I love the brands. So, what does engagement mean to the organization in the broad context of creating value?
This interviewee suggested that organizations need to understand what behaviors and what emotional responses they are seeking from the consumer in order to have that translate into value added to the bottom line. Findings from Qualitative Methods Focused on Consumer Experiences After the initial field interviews that were aimed at developing a broad conceptualization of the construct and the broad contexts of its applicability, the focus of the study from this point onwards was restricted to business-to-consumer context.
Given the wide scope of the construct, which involves interactions among businesses and consumers, the consumer perspective was captured from different contexts including focus groups, netnography, participant observation, phenomenological interviewing, and open-ended surveys. As mentioned earlier, the broad sequence and the focus during the use of each of these techniques is summarized in Table 3.
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