Relationship between service quality, satisfaction, motivation and loyalty. A multi-dimensional perspective

Pages171-188
Date03 April 2017
Publication Date03 April 2017
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-04-2013-0016
AuthorAnnamdevula Subrahmanyam
SubjectEducation,Curriculum, instruction & assessment,Educational evaluation/assessment
Relationship between service
quality, satisfaction, motivation
and loyalty
A multi-dimensional perspective
Annamdevula Subrahmanyam
GITAM School of International Business, GITAM University,
Visakhapatnam, India
Abstract
Purpose This paper aims to identify and test four competing models with the interrelationships between
students’ perceived service quality, students’ satisfaction, loyalty and motivation using structural equation
modeling (SEM), and to select the best model using chi-square difference (
2) statistic test.
Design/methodology/approach The study uses survey research design to gather data regarding
attitudes of students about quality of services and their level of satisfaction, motivation and loyalty. A total of
1,439 valid questionnaires were collected from four public universities in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India,
and the relationships between four variables using SEM are tested.
Findings The structural model with direct and indirect relationships between the constructs proves as a
best among the competing models. The result supported direct effect of students’ perceived service quality on
students’ satisfaction and motivation; and indirect effect on students’ loyalty. Implications and research
contributions are discussed and directions for further research are indicated.
Research limitations/implications The study considers the examinations of the simple bivariate
relationships between service quality, satisfaction, motivation and loyalty may mask or overstate their true
relationships due to omitted variable bias. Structural theory with simultaneous measurement of the direct and
indirect relationships between students’ perceived service quality, satisfaction, motivation and loyalty adds a
unique contribution to the existing eld of knowledge, especially higher education sector.
Practical implications The results of SEM show that the service quality is a key antecedent to
students’ satisfaction, loyalty and motivation. Motivating students for present and future studies with better
participation in the process is important to increase quality and efciency in their output. The best services
also make students loyal to the institution. The ndings suggested that it would be worthwhile for university’s
administration to make proper allocation of resources, to provide better educational services. It is believed that
this study has a signicant competence for engendering more precise applications related to quality of
services, especially concerning students’ satisfaction, loyalty and motivation.
Social implications The research provides signicant insights and demonstrates good understanding
of students’ perceived service quality in the context of Indian universities. The changing nature and need of
higher education services and increase in competitive intensity necessitates higher performance levels in the
realm of Indian higher education (universities). The study identied that students’ perceived service quality is
a key antecedent to students’ satisfaction, motivation and loyalty, which conveys that service quality is an
important construct.
Originality/value Several points are addressed based on the models identied in the study. First, there is
sufcient evidence of a signicant bivariate relationship between service quality, satisfaction, loyalty and
motivation. Second, although service quality is an important determinant of loyalty, the exact nature of this
relationship remains unresolved. Third, it is evident that very few studies have investigated multiple direct
links between service quality, satisfaction, motivation and loyalty. Further, there is no reported investigation
of whether any or all of these variables directly and indirectly inuence loyalty when the effects of service
The author would like to thank the students for their participation in the survey. The author is also
indebted to the editor and reviewers for their encouragement and support during the review process.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0968-4883.htm
Satisfaction,
motivation and
loyalty
171
Received 5 April 2013
Revised 19 June 2014
8 July 2015
19 September 2016
Accepted 23 November 2016
QualityAssurance in Education
Vol.25 No. 2, 2017
pp.171-188
©Emerald Publishing Limited
0968-4883
DOI 10.1108/QAE-04-2013-0016
quality, satisfaction, motivation are simultaneously considered in Indian higher education sector. Therefore,
to present a more pragmatic picture of these relationships, the study identied the “collective model” that
investigates the underlying relationships that exist among these constructs.
Keywords Structural model, Higher education, Students’ satisfaction, Students’ loyalty,
Students’ motivation, Students’ perceived service quality
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
In the current socioeconomic context, the service sector has become progressively more
important (Seth et al., 2005). Continuous improvement of customers’ (users) service is
essential for successful development of a business in the present highly competitive,
dynamic and complex business environment (Bolton et al., 2004;Kotler, 2000). The eld of
education is no exception, especially higher education. Higher education plays a vital role in
the development of human resources which, in turn, enhances social, cultural and economic
development of the nation. These institutions have changed since 1990s. According to
Oldeld and Baron (2000), the higher education sector is receiving a huge number of students
and has become extremely complex and competitive. Hence, efcient service in this eld
takes on a whole new meaning and urgency. Also, the concept of Quality is difcult to dene
in this sector. Numerous studies have identied the importance of service quality and its
measurement in higher education. Despite this, there is no common consensus on its
dimensions and “the best way to dene and measure service quality” does not exist yet
(Clewes, 2003).
In addition to measurement, researchers have conducted studies over the past decades to
develop a clear understanding not only of service quality and satisfaction themselves but
also how they relate to each other and subsequently drive loyalty. (Caruana, 2002;Cronin
et al., 2000,Mosahab et al., 2010). The specic interest was measurement of “antecedent,
consequent and mediating” relationships among these three variables (Rust and Oliver,
1994). Since then, numerous studies have attempted to model the relationships between these
constructs (Bitner, 1990;Cronin and Taylor, 1992;Dabholkar et al., 2000;Fornell, 1992;
Iacobucci et al., 1995;Oliver, 1999;Parasuraman et al., 1985,1988).
Unlike other services, higher education services are long term and continuous where
cognitive participation of students is essential, and the needs of the students are fullled by
different service providers. However, educational services also differ from other professional
services because they play a central role in the lives of students who require huge amounts of
motivation and intellectual skills to attain their goals (Gruber et al., 2010). The motivation of
the student is vital for his/her successful involvement in the lengthy and continuing process
of education. It is a cyclic process where quality services provided by the institutions will
motivate students to participate in the educational process, which in turn improves the
quality of the educational outcome (Stukalina, 2010). The motivation of the student is
essential for their cognitive involvement in the ongoing process of education. However,
researchers in this area point out that educational services also differ from other professional
services in several ways: Educational services play a central role in a student’s life.
Simultaneously, students require a huge amount of motivation and intellectual skills to
attain their goals (Gruber et al., 2010).
Hence, studies have considered students’ motivation to be an essential factor in quality
evaluation. The present study develops a structural model to test the inter-relationships
between service quality, satisfaction, loyalty and motivation, as perceived by students.
Indeed, a passing evaluation of the literature reveals numerous conicting results; no
signicant study has concurrently compared the relative inuence of service quality and
QAE
25,2
172

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