Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marketing (Business Administration)

First Advisor

William C. Black


The disciplines of economics and marketing have suggested that consumers derive satisfaction in exchange transactions from both the attributes of the products exchanged and the stores in which exchange takes place. This satisfaction is based on a comparison of the performance of these relatively objective attributes and a standard--the consumer's expectations of these attributes. Recently, the marketing literature has suggested that an additional source of exchange-related satisfaction may arise from the actual process of exchange itself. Before a thorough understanding of this source of satisfaction can occur, we must gain a better knowledge of both the "attributes" of an exchange process and the standards of comparison used in its evaluation. This dissertation proposes that consumers evaluate exchange processes against a set of norms which serve as standards for the behaviors involved. To explore this proposition, a two stage research plan was developed with the objectives of identifying the operant norms in consumer-retailer exchange processes and assessing their efficacy in satisfaction judgments of the exchange process. The first stage was a qualitative research effort directed towards identifying the behaviors and norms involved in the exchange process. Qualitative analysis indicated that consumers utilize a set of seven exchange related norms in consumer-retailer exchange: appreciative behaviors, product/service knowledge, flexibility, respect for time, role diligence, contra-opportunism, and stand behind good products. Further, the satisfaction derived from the process appeared to be primarily related to the magnitude of the behaviors involved. The second stage involved a quantitative assessment of the existence and impact of these seven norms in exchange related satisfaction judgments, building upon the findings of the qualitative stage. The results provided empirical support for a direct relationship between the magnitudes of behaviors related to a particular norm and the utility or satisfaction derived from those behaviors. Support was also provided for the existence, differences between, and the shape of the return potential curves for each of the seven norm categories proposed in the initial phase of the study. The study identifies several substantive implications for the application and study of exchange-related satisfaction.