Conceptual paradigms for customer satisfaction

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The conceptual literature underpinning the problem domain was reviewed in Chapter Two by discussing issues relevant to the disciplines of service marketing, customer satisfaction and service quality. The schema for this conceptual review was to examine the construct of customer satisfaction in relation to service quality, thus defining concepts, theories, key conceptual trends and issues of integration in the broad spectrum of service marketing. The aim of this chapter is to investigate quality attributes, the applicability of conceptual models in the area of library and information sciences, and to identify the knowledge gap shown in the prevailing contextual literature. This aim is achieved in three steps. The first step uses the conceptual framework identified in Chapter Two and evaluates its applicability to model customer satisfaction regarding the service quality perspective in an academic library setting. The second step attempts to unfold the contextual issues necessary for possible adjustments to be made in the conceptual framework supported by the literature. The aim of the last step is to identify the quality attributes and domains in global library settings obtained from past research studies for the purpose of refining them to suit real-life environments, upon which provisional models may be developed to predict customer satisfaction in a dynamic university library setting. This chapter therefore reviews the contextual research literature pertaining to service quality and customer satisfaction from the service quality perspective in libraries. The review provides a theoretical framework for the development of a contextual understanding of customer satisfaction, and a revised fuzzy conceptual model–incorporating existing research findings–is ultimately offered to conceptualise the formation of the customer satisfaction process related to service quality in Sri Lankan university libraries.


One of the first researchers to begin the definition process of quality in libraries was Richard Orr (Nitecki 1996). In his pioneering publication of 1973, Orr made a distinction between library quality and the value of library services. He suggests that library quality pertains to « how good the service is, » while library value refers to « how much good it does. » The measurement of quality has traditionally been a part of the measurement of effectiveness (Hamburg et al. 1974: 319; Hernon & McClure 1990: xv; Pritchard 1996).The measurements of effectiveness were utilised to evaluate library quality, as library practitioners and researchers in the 1970s believed that the core of effectiveness was quality. As a result, when the library became more effective, the provision of high quality service to its wider customer community was expected. Orr (1973) (cited in Nitecki 1996) introduces four key areas for library effectiveness–resources, capability, utilisation and beneficial effects–upon which a specific definition could be based. These areas continue to be valid to date. The terms used for quality in the earlier period ranged from “technical efficiency measures to vague statements of goodness but most have focused on goal achievement, efficiency, customer satisfaction, personnel management and the ability of the organization to survive” (Pritchard 1996: 574). With the evolution of the quality concept from the view of effectiveness, the need for quality in libraries became very important due to the global digital environment and increasing competition. As a result, libraries have begun to recognise the importance of improving service quality to survive in a competitive world (Cullen 2001). Until recently, however, library quality has been assessed in terms of library collections–size, diversity and comprehensiveness of subject coverage (Dugan & Hernon 2002; Nitecki 1996). Hernon and Altman (1998) and Shi and Levy (2005: 267) emphasise that most traditional statistics regarding libraries lack relevance and do not measure the library’s performance in terms of characteristics important to customers. These statistics have particularly failed to describe the performance of the library or to indicate whether or not the quality of the library is good, indifferent or bad. Moreover, they hardly indicate/recommend/suggest any action that library administrators and other responsible stakeholders could or should take to improve service performance. This partly explains why Dugan and Hernon (2002) perceive quality as a multi-faceted concept that focuses on collections, services and the place of the library in the learning process, within a given context.In the literature, there is no single, unequivocally accepted definition of quality. Quality in libraries has been perceived from several perspectives. The traditional measures of quality, such as statistics on printed collections, journal holdings and so on, are no longer adequate to reflect library excellence and to impact its aims and objectives (Weiner 2005). These more traditional measures of library quality are considered to be of secondary importance (Nitecki 1996). Thus, a need for an alternative approach to such traditional quality measures has emerged to gauge the quality of libraries more objectively.


The application of managerial tools in academic libraries should enable libraries to enjoy the same benefits as in the business sector (Hernon & Altman 1996; 1998). Successful businesses can model their efficient resource deployment, and likewise, a library can also deploy resources efficiently to reap the same benefits through successful business performances. Businesses generally aim to satisfy their key stakeholders, such as suppliers, customers and employees. Similarly, no library will easily survive if it fails to recognise the needs of its customers and other stakeholders. This underscores the need to provide a broad range of service quality in the library sector to achieve greater customer satisfaction.There are four models used to measure the effectiveness of library services in different organisations. These models, which have been derived from management literature, are related to quality of services and/or satisfaction of stakeholders. They are:
1. Goal attainment model: The organisation measures its effectiveness based on the attainment of specific goals set by the organisation. This model has achieved some degree of success in academic libraries, but those libraries using it often fail to include all those involved in the library decision making process (Linn & Linn 1975: 608-9).
2. Systems resource model: The systems resource model analyses the decision maker’s capability to distribute resources efficiently among various needs of the subsystems. This model, which defines the organisation as a network of interrelated subsystems (Bernat 2005), has been used with limited success in academic libraries (Giappiconi 1995: 105-106).
3. Internal process or systems model: This model, which uses stability and internal control processes as measures of performance, is primarily an efficiency model that can often become internally focused and system driven, and it tends to exclude client expectations of service (Cullen & Calvert 1995: 439-440).
4. Constituency satisfaction model: This model evaluates an organisation based on the degree to which its stakeholders are satisfied. It is based on the premise that all stakeholders have needs and expectations that must be fulfilled, and it is up to the organisation to meet those needs consistently over time (Cullen 1998; Cullen & Calvert 1995: 439; Pritchard 1996). This model is of potential use to academic libraries, but the measures of satisfaction used are very broad for use in the library sector to enable service enhancement (Hernon & Altman 1996:11). In most cases, the impact of the quality of service is still under assessment on the basis of an internal set of standards, as defined by the library or by the profession, and not by the customers (Childers & Van House 1993: 5, 93).

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1.1 Introduction 
1.2 Background of the study
1.2.1 Conceptual perspectives
1.2.2 Contextualisation of the concepts Brief overview of Sri Lankan universities University libraries in Sri Lanka University library customers Service quality in university libraries
1.3 Statement of the problem 
1.4 Purpose of the study
1.4.1 Objectives
1.4.2 Research questions
1.5 Statement on the originality of the research 
1.6 Research design and methodology 
1.7 Scope and demarcation of the study 
1.8 Justification for the research 
1.9 Operational definitions 
1.10 Structure of the thesis 
1.11 Referencing style and references 
1.12 Summary 
2.1 Introduction 
2.2 Service marketing 
2.3 Service quality 
2.3.1 Nature of service quality
2.4 Customer satisfaction
2.4.1 Nature of customer satisfaction
2.5 Conceptual paradigms for customer satisfaction
2.5.1 Conceptual relationship between customer satisfaction and service quality
2.5.2 Modelling customer satisfaction in relation to service quality Disconfirmation paradigm Performance-only paradigm Weighted paradigms Evaluated performance and normed quality paradigm
2.6 Service quality models for measuring customer satisfaction 
2.6.1 SERVQUAL model
2.6.2 SERVPREF model
2.7 Impact of situational attributes
2.8 Conceptual critique 
2.9 Conceptual framework for the study
2.9.1 Conceptual model
2.10 Summary 
3.1 Introduction 
3.2 Defining quality in libraries 
3.3 Service quality in libraries 
3.4 Customer satisfaction in university libraries
3.5 Analysis of the applicability of existing models 
3.5.1 SERVQUAL applications in library sector
3.5.3 SERVPREF applications in library sector
3.6 Contextual research critique 
3.6.1 Operational critique
3.6.2 Functional critique
3.6.3 Sampling critique
3.7 A theoretical model for customer satisfaction
3.7.1 Identification of service quality attributes/domains
3.7.2 Socio-demographic, purposive and situational attributes Socio-demographic attributes Purposive attributes Situational attributes
3.8 New conceptualisation and implications
3.8.1 Revised fuzzy conceptual model
3.8.2 Research implications
3.9 Summary 
4.1 Introduction 
4.2 Management of research issues 
4.3 Research framework
4.4 Research process 
4.4.1 Research philosophy
4.4.2 Research approach
4.4.3 Research strategy
4.4.4 Time horizon
4.5 Research stage one: exploratory study
4.5.1 Step one: specifying area of service quality and customer satisfaction
4.5.2 Step two: generating a list of service quality attributes, which can be utilised for the prediction of customer satisfaction and validating/refining the fuzzy conceptual model Deductive attribute generation Inductive attribute generation
4.5.3 Step three: developing a questionnaire to identify the degree of perception/importance of the attributes
4.5.4 Step four: refining the service quality attributes and service Quality domains by a exploratory sample survey Sample Exploratory study data collection Exploratory study data analysis Attribute refinement and domain identification Reliability
4.6 Research stage two: main study
4.6.1 Step one: developing theoretical models based on the identified attributes, quality domains and existing literature
4.6.2 Step two: conducting a survey to gather data on customer satisfaction and service quality Population Sampling and the sample Main study data collection Structure of the main study questionnaire Main study data collection procedure Main study data analysis Profile analysis Multivariate regression analysis Model comparison and selection
4.7 Summary 
5.1 Introduction 
5.2 Literature survey 
5.3 Focus group discussions
5.3.1 Introductory setting
5.3.2 Guiding themes for focus groups
5.3.3 The profile of the focus groups
5.3.4 Thematic focus group discussions
5.3.5 Conformity of the conceptual model
5.4 Final conceptual model 
5.5 Exploratory survey 
5.5.1 Questionnaire administration and data collection
5.5.2 Socio-demographic characteristics
5.5.3 Descriptive analysis of quality attributes
5.5.4 Refinement of attributes and domain identification Exploratory factor analysis Delphi technique Exploratory factor analysis for discrete domains
5.6 Issues, implications and post-exploratory considerations 
5.7 Summary
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Main study 
6.2.1 Profile of the responses
6.2.2 Profile of the respondents
6. 3 Procedure used for model building and analysis Development of provisional models Construct measures Overview of the attributes for the provisional models
6.4 Provisional model analysis 
6.5 Model building and analysis – provisional model I
6.5.1 The provisional model I
6.5.2 Model analysis – provisional model I MLRA for quality domains BLRA for quality domains MLRA for quality domains with overall customer satisfaction BLRA for quality domains with overall customer satisfaction
6.6 Model building and analysis – provisional model II
6.6.1 The provisional model II
6.6.2 Model analysis – provisional model II MLRA for overall customer satisfaction BLRA for overall customer satisfaction
6.7 Model building and analysis – provisional model III 
6.7.1 The provisional model III
6.7.2 Model analysis – provisional model III MLRA for quality domains BLRA for quality domains MLRA for quality domains with overall satisfaction BLRA for quality domains with overall customer satisfaction
6.8 Model building and analysis – provisional model IV
6.8.1 The provisional model IV
6.8.2 Model analysis – provisional model IV MLRA for overall customer satisfaction BLRA for overall customer satisfaction
6.9 Meta analysis for provisional model comparisons 
6.9.1 MLRA model comparison MLRA model comparison: model I and III MLRA model comparison: model II and IV
6.9.2 BLRA model comparison BLRA model comparison: model I and III BLRA model comparison: model II and IV
6.10 Selection of the best provisional model in the MLRA 
6.10.1 Selection of the best model in the BLRA
6.10.2 Final model comparison
6.11 Socio-demographic attributes on overall customer satisfaction
6.12 Situational attributes 
6.13 Summary 
7.1 Introduction 
7.2 Summary of the thesis 
7.3 Discussion
7.3.1 The model for predating customer satisfaction The selected provisional model Construct of service quality Socio-demogrphic attributes Situational attributes
7.3.2 Final model revised
7.3.3 Summary of model in equations The models derived at domain level The model derived at overall customer satisfaction level
7.3.4 Research objectives
7.4 Overall implications of the research 
7.4.1 Methodological implications
7.4.2 Theoretical implications
7.4.3 Managerial implications
7.5 Limitations of the study 
7.6 Further research and developments 
7.7 Conclusions 
7.7.1 Best paradigm
7.7.2 Customer satisfaction as a complex phenomenon
7.7.3 Attributes/domains on customer satisfaction
7.7.4 Building blocks for further research in relationship marketing
7.7.5 Philosophical paradigm shift
7.8 Summary 


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