Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A New Model of Alumni-Perceived Higher Education Brand Equity Evaluation and Outcomes
by Smith, Michael Wade, Ed.D., University of Pennsylvania, 2020, 251; 28155879
Abstract (Summary)

The literature of brand management in higher education lacks significant research in two key areas: 1) theoretical models of the evaluation of brand equity and its impacts on supportive behaviors, and 2) a focus on alumni as a critical stakeholder group to higher education institutions. The new model of alumni-perceived higher education brand equity (HEBE) this study proposes provides brand management and advancement practitioners a better understanding of which elements of brand equity most significantly affect alumni supportive behaviors of promotion of and donation to the institution, and clarifies the levers that can be pulled to increase HEBE. The study operationalizes meaning, awareness, image/perceived quality and value as the drivers of HEBE. Because brand equity is a perceptual construct, a quantitative methodology relying on structural equation modeling of latent constructs was employed to reaffirm previously validated relationships between the constructs and to provide new information on the relative importance of each element to alumni perceptions of HEBE and to their supportive behaviors towards the institution. Centering alumni in the analysis is a meaningful contribution to the brand equity and higher education literature both of which have focused mostly on prospective students. The branding literature has linked positive promotion and increased donations to stronger brand equity, and have found supportive behavioral intent, or conation, in a services context is driven by service value, service quality and satisfaction with the delivered service. The proposed model is tested using Structural Equation Modelling (SEM) quantitative analysis. Data were collected through a survey instrument assessing the demographics, behaviors, and attitudes of 1,246 alumni of American higher education institutions. Significantly, the data collected fit the model, and the proposed model fits the theory. The results of the study reveal that brand awareness significantly impacts HEBE; that brand meaning, most informed by the undergraduate experience, has 3-4 times the impact on HEBE and supportive behavior than brand awareness, and that brand image/perceived quality and value is a meaningful driver of HEBE and supportive outcomes. Institutional executives, with a better understanding of alumni-perceived HEBE, will be better able to connect with their alumni and mutually benefit from the increased brand equity and the consequent supportive outcomes it engenders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: González Canché, Manuel S.
Commitee: Kaplan, Eric, Eckel, Peter
School: University of Pennsylvania
Department: Higher Education Management
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 82/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Marketing, Statistics, Higher education
Keywords: Brand equity, Brand management, Donation, Promotion, Service quality, Structural equation modeling
Publication Number: 28155879
ISBN: 9798557039550
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