Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marketing (Business Administration)

First Advisor

Alvin C. Burns


This research addressed the question of the importance of the service encounter (both functional and social support components) and the importance of the technical component in consumers' judgements of service quality. To date in the literature no one has attempted to measure in a field setting, the relative contribution to the judgement of service quality of each of these components. This research switched the focus of the service quality's definition from the provider's point of view to the consumer. By measuring the three service components' importance, the researcher hoped to obtain a clearer understanding of the consumer's determination as to the important aspects of service quality. The Marketing Science Institute (MSI) published list of research priorities 1998--2000 and its capital topic 2---was understanding the customer experience. Given the growing importance of services and the role the service encounter plays in the consumer's service quality perception, the central research question became how does the "communal" component of the service encounter impact the consumer's overall perception of service quality? To garner a clearer picture of this impact, one must determine whether the presence or lack of communal aspects in service encounters increases/decreases the consumer's overall perception of service quality. The findings supported communal behaviors addition to a consumer's perceived service quality via positive affect. This result was important as it provided service providers a new component to incorporate into their service offering in an endeavor to gain a sustainable competitive advantage via a service quality increase. The revealed link between affect and service quality was an important finding, as this would allow a service provider to increase service quality judgments without altering their technical or functional service delivery. Increased service quality was linked to positive behavior intentions, of word-of-mouth and repeat purchase intentions. As services are projected to grow in importance and become increasingly competitive, this research's findings have potential important strategic implications.