Year of Publication

2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Scott W. Kelley

Second Advisor

Dr. Steven J. Skinner

Abstract

Customers in a service setting sometimes seek support from other customers; recent research has demonstrated this phenomenon. This research also found that intercustomer social support has a positive impact on consumer health, as well as the financial returns for the company. Given these positive effects for firms and customers, organizations can benefit from fostering social connections among their customers. While past research has investigated the positive consequences of intercustomer social support, little research to date has investigated the firm’s strategic role in fostering intercustomer social support. The current research seeks to understand key tactics a firm can use to promote intercustomer social support. Using network theory, the present research investigates the impact of network drivers on different dimensions of intercustomer social support. Results demonstrate that identification with the company, employees and customers is significantly associated with levels of instrumental intercustomer social support. Further, the number of customer ties, along with the amount of information flow and the strength of these ties, all impact instrumental and social/emotional social support. Last, this research presents the positive effects that intercustomer social support has on various customer, firm and co-creation outcomes. Contributions to marketing theory and managerial implications are also presented.

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