Uncovering the drivers of customer engagement behaviours
: Investigating key mediating mechanisms underlying the link between customer satisfaction and customer engagement behaviours in a higher education context

  • Bernadette Frech

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


[note: thesis consists of 2 volumes; scanned file includes volume 1 and 2].

This study aims to explore cognitive and affective mediating mechanisms between Customer Satisfaction (CS) and positive Customer Engagement Behaviours (CEBs) that are of direct benefit to a firm (i.e. Participation, Word-of-Mouth, Monetary Giving) or indirect benefit (, i.e. Human Capital Performance). Two studies were carried out, in England and Austria, in a higher education context.

Study 1 comprised of: 8 focus groups with 48 undergraduate business students from England and Austria, 21 semi-structured interviews with alumni of undergraduate business studies from England and Austria, and 9 background expert interviews.

Study 2 encompassed a mail survey with 209 multi-source cases from undergraduate business students, who had conducted a placement year, and their immediate managers or supervisors, in England.

Findings reveal that the relationships between CS and CEBs are not direct as assumed in literature. Perceived Employability was found as a central cognitive mediator between CS and CEBs of direct and indirect benefit to a service provider. In addition, Gratitude and Love are of importance as affective mediators between CS and CEBs that are of direct benefit to a firm.

This study contributes to the service field by developing and empirically testing a conceptual framework on CEBs, including often neglected CEBs; for instance, CEBs of indirect benefit to an organisation and monetary CEBs. The study also provides the first empirical evaluation of the serial mediation effects of two distinct positive emotions, Gratitude and Love, between CS and CEBs of direct benefit to a service provider. Finally, while most studies have focused on affective mediation effects and CEBs of direct benefit to a service provider, this study has found Perceived Employability to have a simple cognitive mediation effect between CS and CEBs of indirect benefit to a service provider.
Date of Award6 Mar 2018
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorHelen Higson (Supervisor) & Neeru Malhotra (Supervisor)


  • customer satisfaction
  • customer engagement
  • positive emotions
  • higher education
  • serial mediation

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