Date of Award

Spring 4-26-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Department

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Advisor(s)

Dr. Jule Gassenheimer

Second Advisor

Dr. Tim Ozcan

Abstract

This study investigates professional certification’s influence on consumers’ perceived quality, initial trust, and purchase intentions. The study uses Partial Least Squares - Structural Equation Modeling (PLS-SEM) to analyze the responses from a sample of 284 participates, separated into control and experimental groups. The results show professional certification does not significantly increase consumers’ service-quality expectations of or initial trust in the service-provider, based on multigroup analysis (MGA) comparing the experimental and control subgroup A; however, service-quality expectation and initial trust fully mediate the relationship between professional certification and consumers’ purchase intentions. The study also finds almost half (49%) of consumers incorrectly assume the tax preparer is professionally-certified in the absence of any such signal. Theoretical contributions consist of incorporating initial trust into signaling theory and expanding Kirmani and Rao’s (2000) typology of product signals to include professional certification as a type of default-independent, sale-independent signal.

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