Date of Award

7-23-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Advisor

David B. Yerger, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

D. Alex Heckert, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

William Donner, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship of brand identification and supportive behaviors for alumni of a medium-sized state-run public institution of higher education in the mid-Atlantic region of the US. The research examined the perceptions of donor and non-donor alumni of a state-run public institution of higher education to see if there were statistically significant differences between populations. The donor population was further examined to see if brand identification affected dollar amount or number of donations. Additionally, both the donor and non-donor populations were examined to see if identification affects promotion of the institution, competitive attitude towards other schools, and seeking contact with the university. Social identity theory (Tajfel & Turner, 1981), self-categorization theory (Turner, 1987 cited in Turner, Oakes, Haslam, & McGarty, 1994) and self-congruity theory (Sirgy, 1982) provided the theoretical framework of this study. The researcher used quantitative methods in this study and collected data with a survey instrument. The survey was sent to a census of all those alumni with active email addresses on file. The survey yielded 2,856 responses of which 2,763 were usable. The survey responses were then linked to secondary data on file with the Offices of Development and Alumni Relations at the school in question. The findings suggested that brand identification affected choice to donate, donor level, number of donations, promotional behaviors, and competitive attitude towards out-groups. The findings also suggested that interpretation of brand, prestige, and participation were positively associated with identification while satisfaction was positively associated with brand image. However, the results also indicated that identification was not statistically significant as related to seeking contact and participation was not statistically significant as related to brand image. The study showed support for the inclusion of brand identification in traditional alumni donor models. The study also supported interpretation of brand as an important construct in explaining alumni supportive behaviors. The researcher then suggested implications for policy and practice and concluded by presenting opportunities for future research surrounding the construct of brand identification.

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