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Effects of Organization-Public Relationships and Product-Related Attribute Beliefs on Brand Attitude and Purchase Intent...


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EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATION-PUBLIC RELATIONSHIPS AND PRODUCT-RELATED ATTRIBUTE BELIEFS ON BRAND ATTITUDE AND PURCHASE INTENTION: USING RELATIONSHIP THEORY AN D EXPECTANCY-VALUE MODEL By JEESUN KIM A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2003

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Copyright 2003 by Jeesun Kim

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For all that I have become and all that I ha ve accomplished, I would like to dedicate this thesis to my family. Without their support, both emotionally and financially, I would not have made it to where I am today.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS First of all, I would like to thank my chair, Dr. Sylvia Chan-Olmsted for the time and effort she spent reading my thesis and for all the quick and great feedback she provided. I am sure that my thesis is better because of her endless energy and motivation in research and because of her insightful input. I learned so much from her while working on my thesis. I will never forget her help. Next, I wish to thank my committee members, Dr. Linda Hon and Dr. Chang-Hoan Cho for their guidance, knowledge, and encouragement in their areas of expertise. I would also like to thank my fellow Koreans in the college for their help and affection when I needed them. I do not even know where to begin in thanking my friend, ByengHee Chang for his guidance and assistance from the idea development through the completion of this study. I feel lucky to have my awesome friend, Jaemin Jung, who always took care of me, shared problems with me, and encouraged me to pursue my masters years successfully. I would like to thank Samsup Jo, Jooyoung Kim, Jaewon Kang, Hongsik J. Cheon, Hyoungkoo Khang, Chongmoo Woo, and Joonsoo Lim for their guidance and for helping me develop the idea. I also want to offer special thanks to SeungEun Lee for her helpful suggestions and words of encouragement. I am grateful for all of those stress-relieving conversations. I would also like to offer thanks to my friends who started their masters programs with me: Seung-Hoon Han, Eyun-Jung Ki, Sungwoo Kim, Hey-Rin Shim, Ho-Kyung Kim, and Sangsoo Park for sharing in my good and bad iv

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times. My thanks also go out to Yoonserk Pyun, Jiyang Bae, and In-Myoung You for their encouragement. I also want to thank my friends from Sogang University in Korea: Min-Ah Lee, Hye-Yoon Kim, Yejin Hong, Ji-Min Nam, Jung-Hyun Lee, In-Hye Park, Soo-Jung Kim, Dong-Min Lee, Mi-Ran Kim, Jung-Eun Yoon, and Ah-Young Gong for their belief in my potential and for their encouragement. I thank my friends from S.E.L.F. in Korea, Ji-Hee Yoon, Seo-Eun Park, Hye-Eun Choi, and Sung-Young Park, for their moral support. I also thank my friend Kyung-Ha Oh, who is studying at Indiana University, for letting me speak my mind and for sharing my dream of studying in a foreign country. I would also like to thank my professor, SooBum Lee from Korea for his continuous support and encouragement. I am forever grateful to have been mentored by him. Also, I would like to thank my high school English teacher, Gwang-Han Song, who is studying at the University of British Columbia, for his warm words of encouragement from my high school years to now. I also thank the friends I met in Gainesville, Allison Aiken, Michael Palenchar, Bridget Book, Olaf Werder, Todd Holmes, Daphne Landers, Nancy Parish, Francis Kok, Raghu Jeganathan, Greg Borchard, Laura Schmid, Daniela Dimitrova, Shayla Smith, Amanda Holt, and Sean Maxfield, for their help and kindness. Jody Hedge in the Graduate Division also provided me with all the resources I ever needed. Especially, I wish to give my special thanks to Allison and Michael who showed their warm hearts to me and offered me encouragement. Without their help, I would never have survived my first semester here. I would like to thank Domino's Pizza in Gainesville for their sponsorship of free pizza as compensation when I was conducting the survey. v

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Most of all, I would like to express special thanks to Ryan Brainard who has offered me encouragement, support, kindness, and love from the beginning through the completion of my thesis. I thank him for always being there for me and for always taking the time to help me when I needed it. I never would have survived without him. I am forever grateful. I also want to thank my dear friends, Andy Mikulski and Melissa Bello for their friendship and encouragement. My appreciation also extends to my editor, Cristina Popescu for helping to edit my thesis. Finally, I would like to thank my parents, Bae-Han Kim and Young-Gun Kwak for their love and support through all my life. I could never be where I am today without them. Their encouragement, guidance, and patience are a refection of the achievements I have made throughout my life. For everything they have done for me, I am truly thankful. Also, I cannot thank my sister Young-Sun and my brother Sang-Yoon enough for their encouragement and beliefs in my potential. I have dedicated this thesis to my family. They are the most wonderful people in the world and I love them all very much. vi

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................iv LIST OF TABLES .............................................................................................................ix LIST OF FIGURES ...........................................................................................................xi CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................1 Relationship Literature ................................................................................................4 Relationship Management in Public Relations .....................................................4 Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs) ..........................................................5 Trust .............................................................................................................13 Control mutuality .........................................................................................14 Commitment .................................................................................................15 Satisfaction ...................................................................................................16 Attitude and Brand Literature ....................................................................................19 Attitude ...............................................................................................................19 Attitude toward the Brand (Ab) ..........................................................................20 Difference between a Brand and Product ...........................................................22 Product-Related Attribute Beliefs ......................................................................23 Purchase Intention (PI) .......................................................................................25 2 METHODOLOGY .....................................................................................................28 Pretests .......................................................................................................................30 Pretest 1 ..............................................................................................................31 Pretest 2 ..............................................................................................................33 Survey ........................................................................................................................36 Sample and Procedure ........................................................................................36 Measures .............................................................................................................37 Independent Variables ........................................................................................39 Dependent Variables ..........................................................................................43 Data Analysis ......................................................................................................45 vii

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3 FINDINGS ..................................................................................................................47 Overview of the Statistical Analysis ..........................................................................47 Profile of the Sample .................................................................................................47 Descriptions of the Variables .....................................................................................49 Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs) ........................................................50 Beliefs and Importance of Salient Attributes .....................................................50 Attitude toward the Brand ..................................................................................50 Purchase Intention ..............................................................................................51 Reliability Checks ..............................................................................................52 Research Questions and Hypotheses Testing .............................................................54 Test of Research Question 1 ...............................................................................54 Test of Hypothesis 1 ...........................................................................................56 Test of Research Question 2 ...............................................................................60 Test of Hypothesis 2 ...........................................................................................63 Path Analysis ......................................................................................................64 4 DISCUSSION .............................................................................................................71 5 CONCLUSION ...........................................................................................................83 Implications ...............................................................................................................85 Theoretical Implications .....................................................................................85 Practical Implications .........................................................................................87 Limitations .................................................................................................................89 Suggestions for Future Research ...............................................................................90 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT FORM ................................................................................94 B SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE ...................................................................................95 LIST OF REFERENCES ...................................................................................................99 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ...........................................................................................110 viii

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LIST OF TABLES Table page 2-1 Frameworks for the organization-public relationship measurement .....................10 3-1 Salient attributes of Sony VAIO computers ..........................................................32 3-2 The means of familiarity with Sony, Sony products and Sony VAIO computers ...............................................................................................................35 3-3 Cronbachs alpha for four indicators of relationships with five organizations ......37 3-4 Operationalization of variables ..............................................................................39 3-5 Items measuring independent variables .................................................................43 3-6 Items measuring dependent variables ....................................................................44 4-1 Demographic profile of the respondents ................................................................48 4-2 Responses indicating familiarity with Sony, Sonys products and Sony VAIO computers ...............................................................................................................49 4-3 Descriptive statistics of each variable ....................................................................51 4-4 Cronbachs alpha of variables ................................................................................53 4-5 Correlations of the dimensions of OPRs and attitude toward the brand ................55 4-6 Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction as independent variables .......................56 4-7 Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand ......................................................................................................................58 4-8 Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with each of the product-related attribute beliefs .............................................................................58 4-9 Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand ......................................................................................................................59 ix

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4-10 Regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with product-related attribute beliefs .....................................................................................................................60 4-11 Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with the dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs ............................................................61 4-12 Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to examine the predictive power of OPRs ................................................................................62 4-13 Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to examine the predictive power of product-related attribute beliefs .......................................63 4-14 Correlation between attitude toward the brand and purchase intention .................63 4-15 Regression analysis of purchase intention with attitude toward the brand ............64 4-16 Regressions to generate path coefficients ..............................................................66 4-17 Summary of standardized effects of the path model ..............................................68 4-18 Regressions to generate path coefficients ..............................................................69 x

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 2-1 Conceptual model of the relationships among OPRs, product-related attribute beliefs, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention ......................27 4-1 Target path model ..................................................................................................65 4-2 Path diagram of relationships between independent and dependent variables ......67 4-3 The final parsimonious model ...............................................................................69 4-4 Path diagram of relationships among satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention .......................................................70 xi

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Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATION-PUBLIC RELATIONSHIPS AND PRODUCT-RELATED ATTRIBUTE BELIEFS ON BRAND ATTITUDE AND PURCHASE INTENTION: USING RELATIONSHIP THEORY AND EXPECTANCY-VALUE MODEL By Jeesun Kim August 2003 Chair: Sylvia Chan-Olmsted Department: Public Relations Considering the importance of relationship building as a new paradigm in the field of public relations, it is significant to evaluate the value of public relations. Successful relationships generally lead to outcomes that contribute to the organizations goals. Because todays marketplace puts a high value on brand equity, it appears important to investigate brand management concepts in the context of public relations. As such, the present study added to the existing theory and literature on organization-public relationships using attitudinal and behavioral approaches. The purpose of the present study was to explore the effects of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via brand attitude; and the effects of product-related attributes on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via the brand attitude. The present study also examined the different explanatory power of OPRs and product-related attributes on attitude toward the brand. xii

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A survey was conducted with 178 students at the University of Florida. Results of this survey showed that (1) organization-public relationships were significantly related to attitude toward the brand, (2) product-related attributes beliefs were also significantly related to attitude toward the brand, and (3) attitude toward the brand was a strong mediator between independent variables (OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs) and purchase intention. Among the dimensions of OPRs, only satisfaction was a significant indicator in predicting attitude toward the brand. This result suggests that satisfaction could be separated from the other dimensions of OPRs, confirming previous studies that showed that satisfaction could be an overall evaluation of relationship quality. In addition, the explanatory power of OPRs was found to be weaker than that of product-related attribute beliefs in predicting attitude toward the brand. However, considering that the present study only used a laptop computer as a product category, there is a possibility that different product categories will generate different results. xiii

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Deciding how to evaluate the effectiveness of public relations is crucial, given the importance of relationship building as a new paradigm in the field of public relations. Recently, examination of the relationships that exist between an organization and its key publics has emerged as a fertile area of public relations scholarship (Bruning & Ledingham, 1999). As many scholars agree that the ultimate goal of public relations is to build mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics, measuring such relationships and their effectiveness becomes a significant matter to public relations practitioners and top management as well (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999; Ledingham & Bruning, 1998; Lindenmann, 1999; Huang, 2001). Recently, scholars have focused their interest on relationship management as a public relations functionthe management of relationships between an organization and its key publics (Ledingham & Bruning, 2000). According to Ehling (1992), the relationship management perspective shifts the goal of public relations away from the manipulation of public opinion, and puts emphasis on building, nurturing, and maintaining organization-public relationships. This shift is important because the programs are no longer evaluated in terms of communication of messages, but rather by determining the influence that organizational activities have on key publics perceptions of the organization-public relationship, as well as looking at the impact that organizational activities have on key publics behaviors (Bruning & Ledingham, 2000). 1

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2 Ledingham and Bruning (2000) argue that organizations must engage in communication and activities that facilitate a sense of trust, openness, involvement, commitment, and investment. Such approaches are likely to build both the symbolic and behavioral relationships with key publics (Grunig, 2001). To build a successful relationship, it is necessary to demonstrate the value of relationship building to outcomes that contribute to the organizational goals. In contrast to businesses in the past, todays marketplace puts a much higher value on intangible assets. For example, companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Microsoft, and Nike enjoy high brand equity. Having strong brand equity, these organizations can build valuable and intangible assets that influence customer preference toward them and ultimately strengthen the organizations bottom line. Therefore, demonstrating the link between the organization-public relationship and the OPRs contribution to brand associations adds to the practical application of relationship-building theory. A. Ries and L. Ries (2002) asserted that public relations has quietly become the most powerful marketing discipline, and that public relations, specifically publicity and the resulting word of mouth, is what builds new brands. Marken (2001) explained what public relations can and should do for a brand. Also, Markem (2001) contended the importance of branding, which is how customers feel about the organization, the relationship, and its products. Lafferty and Goldsmith (1999) demonstrated the significant effects of corporate credibility and celebrity credibility on customers attitude toward the advertising, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention. Using path analysis, Goldsmith, Lafferty, and Newell (2000) also found that endorser credibility had the strongest impact on attitude

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3 toward advertising, while cor porate credibility had the st rongest impact on attitude toward the brand. The literature is rich in studies that have assessed the effect of attitude toward advertising on attitude toward the brand a nd purchase intention. However, to date no study has examined the impact of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via the brand at titude. So far, probably the most widely used approach in dealing with brand attit ude formation is based on a multi-attribute model, where brand attitudes are seen as a function of attributes and benefits associated with the brand (Keller, 1998). Earlier, Aaker (1991) stated that devel oping brand associations with a product attribute or characteristic is effective because the association can directly translate into reasons to buy a brand or not. Therefore, in the present study, the effect of productrelated attribute belief s about the product using the exp ectancy-value model were also used to predict attitude toward the brand. The purpose of the present study was to e xplore (1) the effects of organizationpublic relationships on a ttitude toward the brand and purch ase intention via brand attitude, and (2) the effects of productrelated attribute beliefs on a ttitude toward the brand and purchase intention via the brand attitude. The present study also investigated how the dimensions of organization-public relationshi ps (trust, control mu tuality, commitment, and satisfaction) and productrelated attribute beliefs are related to brand attitude formation and purchase intention via brand attitude. Furthermore, the present study examined the differences between the impact of organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on attitudes toward the brand.

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CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Relationship Literature Relationship Management in Public Relations The origin of the relationship management perspective can be traced back in 1984, when Ferguson called for increased attention to relationships within the scholarship and practice of public relations. In a 1990 study, Broom and Dozier suggested a co-orientational approach to measure organization-public relationships, rather than communication efficiencies as a function of public relations evaluation. In 1992, J. E. Grunig defined the purpose of public relations as building relationships with publics that constrain or enhance the ability of the organization to meet its mission (p. 20). L. A. Grunig, J. E. Grunig, and Ehling (1992) went so far as to suggest that relationships are the center of public relations. Building relationships managing interdependenceis the substance of public relations. Good relationships, in turn, make organizations more effective because they allow organizations more freedommore autonomyto achieve their missions than they would with bad relationships (p. 69). Later, Cutlip, Center, and Broom (1994) defined public relations as the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends. (p. 2). The notion that public relations is the management of organization-public relationships (OPRs) is reflected in Center and Jacksons (1995) observation that the 4

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5 proper term for the desired outcomes of public relations practice is public relationships. An organization with effective public relations will attain positive public relationships (p. 2). Moreover, the relational perspective explains the function of public relations within an organizational structure (Ledingham & Bruning, 1998), and provides methods to determine the impact of public relations on organizational objectives (Ledingham & Bruning, 1997). Hutton (1999) noted that relationship management refers to the practice of public relations as an exercise in identifying mutual interests, values and benefit between a client-organization and its publics (p. 208). According to Hutton (1999), mutual trust, compromise, cooperation, and win-win situations are essential for successful relationship management. The keystone of relationship management perspective is its focus on managing OPRs to produce benefits not only for organizations, but also for publics (Ledingham, 2001). Furthermore, relationship management theory provides a paradigm for scholarly inquiry, serves as a direction for public relations education, equips practitioners with an outcome-based means of accounting for the cost of program initiatives, and requires public relations experts to be conversant with management concepts and practices. Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs) Scholarship concerning the management of OPRs has increased significantly in recent years. Ledingham and Bruning (1998) offered the following definition of OPR based on interpersonal relationship principles: an organization-public relationship is the state which exists between an organization and its key publics, in which the actions of either can impact the economic, social, cultural or political well being of the other (p. 62).

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6 Broom, Casey, and Ritchey (2000) pointed out little research has focused on explicating and measuring the definition of organization-public relationships. Without an explication of the term relationship, theory building in public relations will continue to be difficult (Broom et al., 2000). Public relations scholars agree on the importance of relationships, but there is no one common definition for relationship. For example, Kreps (1986) defined public relations as the ongoing management of communication relationships among organizations that share an interorganizational field (p. 244). This definition focuses on relationships between organizations, but it does not explain what a relationship is and does not even consider how publics are a part of communication. Dozier, L. A. Grunig, and J. E. Grunig (1995) suggested that the strategic or failure of communication program is determined by relationships between organizations and key publics (p. 32). Huang (1997) offered a more detailed definition that stressed on the importance of relationships in public relations: The goal of public relations not only includes the dissemination of information, but also involves facilitating mutual understanding and resolving conflicts between an organization and its publics (p. 7). With regard to relationships, L. A. Grunig et al. (1992) suggested that the quality of OPRs might be measured through the dimensions of reciprocity, trust, mutual legitimacy, openness, mutual satisfaction, and mutual understanding (p. 136). On the same note, Ledingham, Bruning, Thomlison, and Lesko (1997) conducted a multi-discipline review of relationship literature and identified 17 dimensions that scholars have held to be central to interpersonal relationships, marketing relationships, and other relationships. Those dimensions were the following: investment, commitment, trust, comfort with relational dialectics, cooperation, mutual goals, interdependence/power

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7 imbalance, performance satisfaction, comparison level of the alternatives, adaptation, non-retrievable investment, shared technology, summate constructs, structural bonds, social bonds, intimacy, and passion. This initial list was later reduced to five dimensions (trust, openness, involvement, commitment, and investment) and operationalized through research with key publics (Ledingham & Bruning, 1998). Ledingham and Bruning (1998) then examined the link between the five operationalized dimensions and attitudes toward an organization. Based upon their findings, Ledingham and Bruning (1998) advanced a Theory of Loyalty holding that organizational involvement in and support of the community in which it operates can engender loyalty toward an organization among key publics when that involvement/support is known by key publics (p. 63). Ledingham and Bruning (1998) further asserted that what emerges is a process in which organizations must (1) focus on the relationships with their key publics, and (2) communicate involvement of those activities/programs that build the organization-public relationship to members of their key publics (p. 63). Ledingham and Bruning (1998) also suggested, to be effective and sustaining, relationships need to be seen as mutually beneficial, based on mutual interest between an organization and its significant publics and concluded that the key to managing successful relationships is to understand what must be done in order to initiate, develop, and maintain that relationship (p. 27). In subsequent research, Bruning and Ledingham (1998) found that the relationship dimensions of trust, openness, involvement, commitment, and investment predicted customer satisfaction in a competitive environment. Bruning and Ledingham (1998) noted that the relationship between an organization and its key publics should be considered when developing customer satisfaction initiatives and should be included in

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8 future models of satisfaction research (p. 199). In 1999, Bruning and Ledingham grouped together indicators of relationship quality suggested by other scholars into the three following relationships types: interpersonal, professional, and community. Those types developed into a multi-item, multi-dimensional scale to measure the quality of OPRs. Another study by Ledingham, Bruning, and Wilson (1999) found that OPRs can and do change over time, and in some cases, it may require decades to solidify an OPR. As a result, Ledingham et al. emphasized the need to maintain attention to an OPR throughout its life cycle, not only when the OPR is initiated or when it is declining. Research thus far has linked OPR perceptions and loyalty toward an organization within the context of utilities industry, local government, insurance industry, banking, and higher education. Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) looked at psychology literature in order to identify characteristics of interpersonal relationships. Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) concluded that control mutuality, trust, satisfaction, commitment, exchange relationship, and communal relationship are good indicators of successful interpersonal relationships. Public relations research shows that those six elements can be applied equally well to organization-public relationship settings (Huang, 1997). Continuing this line of research, J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) identified trust, control mutuality, relationship commitment, and relationship satisfaction as the most important outcome factors in an organization-public relationship. These four dimensions were thought of as being most significant because they appeared consistently in both organizational and interpersonal communication literature (J. E. Grunig & Huang, 2000).

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9 J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) argued that many other factors identified by scholars are components of trust, control mutuality, satisfaction, and commitment. Based on conceptual foundations, as well as empirical data, Huang (1998) defined an OPR as the degree that the organization and its publics trust one another, agree on that one has rightful power to influence, experience satisfaction with each other, and commit oneself to one another (p. 12). Huang (1998) further explored the causal relationships between public relations strategies and an OPR. Also, Huang (2001) demonstrated that OPRs were key mediating variables in the effect of an organizations public relations strategies on resolving the conflicts between the organization and its publics. Kim (2001) collected and factor-analyzed all available items from interpersonal, relationship marketing, and public relations literature, in order to devise a valid and reliable instrument to measure the organization-public relationship. Kims (2001) study developed a valid and reliable four-dimension scale with 16 items for measuring the organization-public relationship through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses. The four dimensions included trust, commitment, local or community involvement, and reputation. The Cronbachs alpha reliability coefficients were .78 for trust, .84 for commitment, .85 for local or community involvement, and .83 for reputation, respectively. Table 2-1 summarizes measures and instruments used by scholars to evaluate the organization-public relationship in public relations.

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10 Table 2-1. Frameworks for the organization-public relationship measurement Study OPR Dimensions Sample & Survey Instruments Ferguson, 1984 Dynamic vs. static, open vs. closed, mutual satisfaction, distribution of power, mutual understanding, mutual agreement The origin of the relationship management perspective L. A. Grunig et al, 1992 Reciprocity, trust, credibility, mutual legitimacy, openness, mutual satisfaction, and mutual understanding The researchers suggested that the quality of OPRs might be measured through these dimensions. Huang, 1997 Trust, control mutuality, relational commitment, relational satisfaction 311 legislative members and their assistants; 16 items (1997) Ledingham and Bruning, 1998 Openness, trust, involvement, investment, commitment 384 residential telephone subscribers; 91 items (1998) Bruning and Ledingham, 1999 Personal relationship professional relationship community relationship The study was an attempt to design a multiple-item, multiple-dimension organization-public relationship scale. The OPR provided an instrument that can be used to measure the influence that perceptions of the OPR have on consumer attitudes, predispositions, and behavior, as well as an opportunity to track changes in OPR perceptions over time. Bank officials provided the researchers with a list of 2100 randomly selected customers and their telephone numbers. Data were gathered by 17 students enrolled in an undergraduate public relations research course. Each student completed about 11 telephone interviews. 183 surveys of bank customers were collected; 51 items (1999)

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11 Table 2-1. Continued Study OPR Dimensions Sample & Survey Instruments Hon and J. E. Grunig, 1999 Trust, control mutuality, commitment, satisfaction, communal relationships, exchange relationships A pilot survey to see how respondents evaluated their relationships with five organizations chosen to represent different types of public and private organizations with both good and bad reputations The researchers conducted the survey by placing a questionnaire on the Internet and inviting people from randomly chosen e-mail addresses to respond. 200 online users; 52 items (1999) J. E. Grunig and Huang, 2000 Trust, control mutuality, commitment, satisfaction 311 legislative members and their assistants; 16 items (1997) Bruning and Ralston, 2001 Personal relationship professional relationship community relationship 164 students were surveyed to determine whether student-university relationship attitudes differentiated those who indicated they were planning on returning to the institution from those who were not or were undecided. Also, focus groups used to define student-university relationships. Huang, 2001 Trust, control mutuality, commitment, satisfaction, face and favor A cross-cultural, multiple-item scale for measuring organization-public relationships was developed not only to fulfill the standards of reliability and validity in measurement but also to acquire cross-cultural comparability. 1 st stage: 311 legislative members and their assistants; 16 items (1997) 2nd stage: 235 public relations practitioners from Executive Yuan in Taiwan; 21 items (1999) Kim, 2001 Trust, commitment, local and community involvement, reputation 1 st stage: 160 undergraduate students, 58 items 2 nd stage: 102 community residents, 16 item 3rd stage: 157 customers of online company, 16 items

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12 Table 2-1. Continued Study OPR Dimensions Sample & Survey Instruments Bruning, 2002 Personal relationship professional relationship community relationship 122 students (enrolled in an introductory communication course at a small, private mid-western university) were surveyed to determine whether student-university relationship attitudes and satisfaction evaluations distinguished those who returned to the university from those who did not. Conceptualizations of relationship management and organization-public relationships in the public relations literature mirror concepts from marketing literature. Hutton (1999) noted that while there are substantial differences between marketing and public relations, there are also many characteristics these professions have in common. According to Hutton (1999), marketing and public relations both deal with external constituencies, messages, media, public opinion, and audience segmentation. Key factors in both professions are communication, persuasion, and relationships (Hutton, 1999). Early marketing literature conceptualized relationship quality as a higher-order construct consisting of several distinct, though related, dimensions (Dorsch, Swanson, & Kelley, 1998; Kumar, Scheer, & Steenkamp, 1995). Later, relationship quality was considered as an overall assessment of the strength of that relationship (Garbarino & Johnson, 1999; Smith, 1998). Although there still is discussion about what dimensions make up relationship quality, scholars thus far have emphasized the importance of relationship satisfaction, trust, and commitment as valid indicators of relationship quality (Wulf, Odekerken-Schrder, & Lacobucci, 2001). Based on previous literature, the present study adopts trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction as the dimensions on which to measure organization-public

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13 relationships. Characteristics of these four dimensions of organization-public relations are summarized below. Trust Trust is widely accepted as an important component of interpersonal, organizational, and organization-public relationships (J. E. Grunig & Huang, 2000), and is generally viewed as an essential element for successful relationships (Berry 1995; Dwyer, Schurr, & Oh, 1987; Moorman, Deshpand, & Zaltman 1993; Morgan & Hunt, 1994). From a marketing perspective, Moorman, Deshpand, and Zaltman (1993) define trust as a willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence. (p. 82). Moorman et al. asserted that confidence and trustworthiness result from the ability to perform (expertise), reliability, and intentionality. According to Morgan and Hunt (1994), trust represents the perception of confidence in the exchange partners reliability and integrity. (p. 23). Both definitions highlight the importance of confidence and reliability in the conception of trust. Trust appears to be the cornerstone of successful relationships, which can only be built in time (Davidson & Kapelianis, 1996; Dumoulin & Boyd, 1997). In fact, Vercic and J. E. Grunig (1995) went so far as to state that trust is the characteristic that allows an organization to exist (J. E. Grunig & Huang, 2000). Trust, however, is a multidimensional concept (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Its secondary components are integrity, dependability, and competence (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). If an organization has integrity, then publics believe that it is fair in its interactions (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Dependability means that publics can rely on the organization to do what it says (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Competence means that the organization has the resources and ability to follow through with its commitments (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Putting

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14 all together, Wulf, Odekerken-Schrder, and Lacobucci (2001) defined trust in marketing as a consumers confidence in an organizations reliability and integrity. Because trust is so critical, an organization should not compromise it for a short-term benefit. The long-term reputation that the organization acquires by being trustworthy will make the relationship between that organization and its publics better and stronger (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Referring to the retail business, Berry (1993) stresses that trust is the basis for loyalty (p. 1). Moorman, Deshpand, & Zaltman (1993) said that trust is the behavioral intention of willingness. Moorman et al. also argued that this behavioral intention is a critical facet of trusts conceptualization because if one believes that a partner is trustworthy without being willing to rely on that partner, trust is limited (p. 315). Control mutuality According to Huang (2001), the concept of control mutuality is similar to other concepts scholars suggested as being significant to relationships: Bruning and Ledinghams (1999) concept of mutual legitimacy, Aldrichs (1975, 1979) concept of reciprocity, Fergusons (1984) idea of distribution of power in the relationship, Millar and Rogerss (1976) construct of power, and Moores (1986) notion of empowerment. Huang also noted that in essence, the sense of control mutuality between the opposing parties in a relationship is critical to interdependence and relational stability. Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) defined control mutuality as the degree to which parties agree on who has rightful power to influence one another (p. 13). J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) stated that some imbalance of power is inevitable in many relationships and that control mutuality takes this asymmetry into account However, if one party attempts to have sole control over the relationship, the other outcome factors

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15 trust, satisfaction and commitmentwill suffer (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Therefore, it is beneficial for parties to agree on the level of control mutuality in a relationship. Commitment Commitment examines the degree to which one party believes and feels that the relationship is worth spending energy to maintain and promote (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999, p. 14). The literature reveals that commitment has long been a central notion in the social exchange approach (Stafford & Canary, 1991). Bruning and Ledingham (1999) included this concept into their nine-dimension scale. Cook and Emerson (1978) used the concept of commitment to distinguish between social and economic exchanges. Commitment is examined as an effective indicator of internal relationships in an organizational setting. For example, commitment has been associated closely with increased organizational citizenship, recruiting and training practices, and organizational support (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). In service relationships, Berry and Parasuraman (1991) held that relationships are built on the foundation of mutual commitment. From the perspective of relationship marketing, Morgan and Hunt (1994) defined relationship commitment as an exchange partner. If the committed party believes the relationship is worth promoting then they will put forth maximum effort in order to maintain the relationship. Morgan and Hunt also viewed brand loyalty as a form of commitment. Similarly, the four components contributing to organizational relationships identified by Aldrich (1975, 1979)formalization, intensity, reciprocity, and standardizationcan be viewed as forms of commitment in OPRs. Morgan and Hunt (1994) concluded that commitment is vital to the relationship of the organization and its various partners.

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16 Commitment is generally regarded to be a significant result of good relational interactions (Dwyer, Schurr, & Oh, 1987; Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Gundlach, Achrol, and Mentzer (1995) argued that commitment has the three following components: an instrumental component of some form of investment, an attitudinal component that may be described as affective commitment or psychological attachment, and a temporal dimension indicating that the relationship exists over time. Satisfaction Having satisfaction means that the organization and its publics feel positive toward each other. Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) defined relationship satisfaction as the extent to which one party feels favorably toward the other because positive expectations about the relationship are reinforced (p. 14). Hecht (1978) conceptualized satisfaction as the favorable affective response to the reinforcement of positive expectations in a certain kind of situation. Stafford and Canary (1991) held that from a social exchange perspective, a satisfying relationship is one in which the distribution of rewards is equitable and the relational rewards outweigh costs (p. 225). Stafford and Canary (1991) also indicated that perceptions of partners constructive maintenance behaviors increase ones satisfaction with the relationship, and they thus concluded that relational satisfaction probably is the hallmark of effective relational maintenance. The importance of satisfaction as a crucial attribute of relational quality has been acknowledged widely (Ferguson, 1984; Miller & Rogers, 1976; Stafford & Canary, 1991). Ferguson (1984) held that the degree to which both an organization and its public are satisfied with their relationship is one of the significant indicators for gauging organizational relationships. Wulf, Odekerken-Schrder, and Lacobucci (2001) defined

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17 relationship satisfaction as a consumers affective state resulting from an overall evaluation of his or her relationship with an organization. Given the lack of attitudinal and behavioral research in public relations, it is very important to understand how consumers association with an organization affects their attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. Several studies have demonstrated that corporate image affects consumer product judgments and responses in a positive manner (Belch & Belch, 1987; Carlson, 1963, Cohen, 1963; Keller & Aaker, 1994; Wansink, 1989). For example, Keller and Aaker (1992) showed that corporate credibility had a positive impact on consumer product responses. However, much of the early empirical research on corporate associations focuses on creating measures of various constructs, such as corporate image, rather than on developing theoretical links to other important constructs, such as consumer responses (Bolger, 1959; Clevenger, Lazier, & Clark, 1965; Cohen, 1967; Hill, 1962; Spector, 1961; Tucker, 1961). Brown and Dacin (1997) noted that when a consumer identifies a product with a company, her or his overall evaluation of the company is likely to influence the evaluation of the product. In 1998, Hon called for research to explore causal relationships between public relations activities and specific outcomes. Later, Ledingham and Bruning (2000) showed that when an organization engages in action and communication that promote a sense of openness, trust, commitment, involvement, and investment, it builds symbolic and behavioral relationships with its key publics. Ledingham and Brunings (2000) research proved that when a managed communication program centered on the relationship

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18 dimensions was implemented, there was a 10% increase in the number of customers who said they would stay with their current local telephone service provider. An organization should listen to the publics voices, and as a result bring about changes in publics awareness, attitudes, and behaviors. To measure the overall effectiveness of organization-public relationships, it becomes important to evaluate publics attitude toward brands as a possible outcome. Brand attitude is a major component and indicator of brand equity. Brands are significant to organizations because they contribute to the building of intangible assets, which lead to customer loyalty, which in turn contributes to the organizations bottom line. Thus, exploring the relationship between the OPR and the OPRs contribution to brand attitude formation can be a valuable addition to the relationship theory in public relations. The present study looks at the dimensions of organization-public relationship as independent variables contributing to the formation of attitudes toward a brand. Although no previous research has shown that each dimension of the OPRs directly influences brand attitude, the present study attempts to explore the effect of each of the four dimensions of the OPRs (trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction) on brand attitude formation. If these relationships hold, our study can propose a model for measuring attitudes toward the brand as an outcome of organization-public relationships. Based on the existing literature, the following research question was investigated: RQ1: How are the four dimensions of organization-public relationshipstrust, control mutuality, satisfaction, and commitmentrelated to attitudes toward a brand?

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19 Attitude and Brand Literature Attitude Attitude has been defined as a construct combining belief, affect, and conation intervening between stimulus and response. Allport (1935) considered it as one of the most unique and essential concepts in modern social psychology. Conceptually, an attitude is a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Eagly and Chaiken (1993) defined psychological tendency as a state that is internal to the person and evaluating as all classes of evaluative responding, whether overt or covert, cognitive, affective, or behavioral. Research suggests that six of the strongest marketing-related variables indicative of the attitude formation process a consumer follows are: familiarity, acceptability, preference, purchase intent, satisfaction, and usage (Haley & Case, 1979; Haley, 1985). These variables resonate with the Hierarchy of Effects model, which suggests that consumers exposed to an advertising campaign are taken from unawareness to awareness, knowledge, liking, preference, and conviction to purchase the product (Lavidge & Steiner, 1961). Mitchell and Olson (1981) defined attitude as an individuals internal evaluation of an object such as a branded product (p. 318). According to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), attitude is a function of his/her salient beliefs at a given point in time (p. 222). Beliefs are the subjective associations between any two differentiable concepts and salient beliefs are those activated from memory and considered by the person in a given situation (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975).

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20 Research shows that the correlation between attitudes and actions can be strong under certain conditions (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1977; Fazio & Zanna, 1981). Attitudes play a key role in predicting purchase behavior for particular brands. For this reason, much study has concentrated on the cognitive and affective determinants of attitudes in hopes of predicting the conative factor. The affective link has become the main player in todays marketplace (Batra, Myers, & Aaker, 1996). Assessing individuals opinions, attitudes, and preferences becomes extremely important when seeking to measure the overall impact or effectiveness of a particular public relations program or activity. Lindenmann (2002) asserted that attitude research measures not only what people say about something, but also what they know and think (their mental or cognitive predispositions), what they feel (their emotions), and how they are inclined to act (their motivational or drive tendencies). Given the importance of attitude research in measuring public relations outcomes, the organization-public relationships can be used to predict consumers attitudes toward brands. Attitude toward the Brand (Ab) Brand attitudes are considered important phenomena in consumer behavior, marketing, and advertising (Mitchell & Olsen, 1981; Gardner, 1985). Brand attitudes are defined in terms of consumers overall evaluations of a brand (Wilkie, 1990). Attitude toward the ad (Aad), attitude toward the brand (Ab), and purchase intention (PI) represent the main outcome variables in many studies of advertising effectiveness (Heath & Gaeth, 1994; Kalwani & Silk, 1982; MacKenzie & Lutz, 1989). While substantial effort has been devoted to measuring attitude toward the brand and purchase intention as the effect of attitude toward advertising, no empirical research has looked at the effect of organization-public relationships on brand attitude.

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21 Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) defined attitude toward the brand as a predisposition to respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner to a particular brand. Mitchell and Olson (1981) defined attitude toward the brand as consumers overall evaluation of good or bad. Such evaluations are important to researchers because they often are the basis for consumer behaviors, such as brand choice. Semantic differential scales measuring brand attitude are frequent in marketing and advertising literature. Bruner and Hensel (1996) reported 66 published studies which measured brand attitude, typically as the dependent variable in research on product line extensions or advertising effects. Many studies in advertising have focused on understanding how advertisements affect consumers attitude toward advertised brands (Gardner, 1985). Many studies have shown that consumers brand-related beliefs affect brand attitude formation (Mitchell & Olson, 1981) and change (Lutz, 1975). Understanding the roles of brand-related beliefs and attitudes toward the advertisement in the formation of brand attitudes has significant implications for theoretical conceptualizations of the attitude formation process. In the present study, organization-public relationships are used to explain brand attitudes. According to Olins (2000),Brands are the device we use to differentiate between otherwise almost indistinguishable competitors. Without clear branding, in some fields, we literally could not tell one product or service from another (p. 61). Olins (2000) also suggested that people can have a relationship with a brand: they have an immense emotional content and inspire loyalty beyond reason (p. 63). Olinss (2000) discussion suggests that brands could consist of the following three factors: the behavior of an organizationoften defined as a component of organizational identity, communications/messages to define differentiating attributes of an organization or

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22 product, or relationships with an organization as people conceptualize that organization (Van Riel, 1995). Ledingham and Bruning (1998) found a link between relationships and public loyalty toward an organization. Ledingham and Brunings (1998) research showed that consumers who ranked the organization high with regard to the dimensions of trust, openness, involvement, commitment, and investment said they would stay with that company in the face of competition. In other words, the research showed that building effective relationships can center evaluation of public relations activities on attitudinal and behavioral outcomes (Bruning, 2002). Difference between a Brand and Product It is important to differentiate between a brand and a product. A brand is something that comes from the consumers perceptions and ideas regarding the product. (Blackston, 1992). The product is the actual good or service with functional purpose. Therefore, the brand offers something in addition to this functional purpose. Products are what the company makes; what the customer buys is a brand (Kapferer, 1992, p. 2). According to Kotler (1980), a product is defined as anything that can be offered to a market for attention, acquisition, use, or consumption that may satisfy a need or want. A brand is a product, but one that adds other dimensions to differentiate it in some way from other products designed to satisfy the same need (Keller, 1998). Achenbaum (1993) differentiated a brand from a product. Achenbaum said that what distinguishes a brand from its unbranded commodity counterpart is the sum of consumers perceptions and feelings about the products attributes and how it performs, about the brand name and what it stands for, and about the company associated with the brand.

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23 Because the brand offers more than a product, it can be viewed as a product that provides functional benefits plus added values that consumers value enough to buy (Jones, 1986). The crucial part of this definition is that the brand offers added value, which is something invisible, intangible, and non-functional. The goal of most companies is to develop brands that gratify consumers with consistent added values, as well as to create, maintain, protect, and enhance its brand names. A strong brand is considered to be an asset for a company. The organization-public relationships can lead consumers to have a positive brand attitude and purchase the brand by associating these added values with the product itself. Product-Related Attribute Beliefs In the present study, product-related attribute beliefs were used to examine the effect on brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand attitude, compared to the effect of organization-public relationships on brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand attitude. Keller (1998) asserted that brand associations could be classified into three major categories: attributes, benefits, and attitudes. Attributes are those descriptive features that characterize a product or service, what consumers think the product or service is or has, and what is involved with its purchase or consumption. Attributes can be product-related, and non-product-related such as price, user and usage imagery, and brand personality. According to Keller (1998), product-related attributes are the ingredients necessary for performing the product or service function sought by consumers (p. 93). Product-related attributes refer to a products physical composition or a services requirements and are what determine the nature and level of product performance (Keller, 1998). Product-related attributes can be further characterized according to important and

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24 optional features, either necessary for a product to work, or for allowing customization and more versatile, personalized usage (Keller, 1998). Keller (1998) defined non-product-related attributes as external aspects of the product or service that often relate to its purchase or consumption in some way. Keller (1998) said that non-product-related attributes might affect the purchase or consumption procedure, but do not directly influence the product performance. Examples of non-product-related attributes that do not relate directly to product performance can be the company or person that makes the product and the country in which it is made, the type of store in which it is sold, the events for which the brand is a sponsor and the people who endorse the brand, and so on (Keller, 1998). Compared to product-related attributes, the present study assumes that organization-public relationships can be non-product-related attributes used to predict the brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand attitude. Biel (1992) argued that brand association could be the result of corporate image, product image, and user image. Each of these three images can be divided into two types of associations. One is the perception of functional attributes, like speed or ease to use. The other is related to emotional attributes, like being exciting, innovative, or trustworthy. Farquhar and Herr (1993) suggested that the types of brand association include product category, usage situation, product attribute, and customer benefits. Attitude is understood as an intricate set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral processes between an attitude object and a consumer. Several different models of attitude have been posited for consideration. The most widely accepted approach to modeling attitudes is a multi-attribute conceptualization in which attitudes are a function of the associated attributes and benefits that are salient for the attitude object itself.

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25 The expectancy-value approach as a general framework for understanding attitudes was created by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975). Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) proposed that attitudes are a function of (a) beliefs about the attitude object (cognitive-based nature), defined as the subjective probability that the attitude object has each attribute, and (b) the evaluative aspect of these beliefs, defined as the evaluation of each attribute (affect-based nature). Fishbein and his collaborators have focused on beliefs as causes of attitudes and thereby assumed that attitudes derive from beliefs about attitude objects. As applied to marketing or advertising, this expectancy-value model sees brand attitudes as a multiplicative function of the salient beliefs that a consumer has about the brand and the evaluation of those beliefs (Keller, 1998). Based on the attitude literature, the following hypothesis was investigated: H1: Product-related attribute beliefs are related to attitude toward the brand. To compare the effects of the organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude as corporate associations and consumer product associations, respectively, the following research question was investigated: RQ2: Are there any significant differences between the impact of organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand? Purchase Intention (PI) Purchase intention (PI) is the consumers tendency to act toward an object, and is generally measured in terms of intention to buy. Advertising managers often test the elements of the marketing mixalternative product concepts, ads, packaging, or brand namesto determine what is most likely to influence purchase behavior (Assael, 1995). In the absence of actual buying behavior, management uses the closest substitute, intention to buy, to determine the effectiveness of the components of the marketing mix.

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26 For any communication-based concepts to exist, it has been shown that there are multiple related theories and conceptualizations of the relationships between attitude toward the brand and most specifically purchase intention. Advertising effectiveness is widely studied by both academicians and practitioners. From a public relations perspective, the organization-public relationships may provide the opportunity for attitudinal development through influencing intention to buy. One of the most commonly accepted theories used in marketing today, the Dual Mediation Hypothesis (Brown & Stayman, 1992; MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986), addresses the many attitudinal-behavioral patterns and relationships in advertising. The DMH was developed in research studies dealing with attitude toward the brand and affective motivation. Results represented accurately the interrelationships among brand and ad cognitions, and purchase intention (MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986). These affective and cognitive-based attitudes toward the brand have a direct effect on purchase intentions (Homer & Yoon, 1992). This causal sequence of attitudes leading to purchase intention may be an important measure of the attitude toward the brand. Attitudes are the most abstract and highest-level type of brand associations. Keller (1998) pointed out that consumers brand attitudes generally depend on specific considerations concerning the attributes and benefits of the brand. The Fishbein and Ajzens (1975) expectancy-value model suggests that overall brand attitudes depend on the strength of association between the salient attributes associated with the brand and the evaluation of those attribute beliefs. It is important to consider two different bases of brand attitudes formation: (1) beliefs about product-related attributes and functional benefits and/or (2) beliefs about non-product-related attributes and symbolic and

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27 experiential benefits (Keller, 1998). Based on theoretical background about causal relationships of attitude-purchase intention, it was hypothesized that: H2: Attitude toward the brand will be positively related to purchase intention. N on-product-related attributes Trust Control mutuality Commitment Satisfaction Brand attitude Purchase intention Product-related attributes Product-related attribute beliefs Figure 2-1. Conceptual model of the relationships among OPRs, product-related attribute beliefs, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention

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CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY The present study investigates empirically the effects of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via the brand attitude. Based on the proposition that product-related attribute beliefs affect brand attitude, the present study also measures product-related attribute beliefs to compare the effects of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand attitude. For the present study, Sony and its brand of personal computers, VAIO, were selected. Sony has always had very strong brand equity, particularly related to its electronic appliances such as television sets, camcorders, and the portable cassette player Walkman. The reason for choosing a personal computer as a product is that a computer is very relevant to students, the participants of this empirical study. In the near future, students are likely to purchase computers, which require cognitive effort (H. Lee, J. Lee, & Harrell, 2001). In addition, since a computer has product-related attributes, the present study is able to measure the relationship between computer-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude. By using sophisticated measurement tools that demonstrate the fundamental role of relationships in public relations, the present study adds to the body of knowledge in the public relations field. In particular, the present study advances the existing theory and literature on organization-public relationships using attitudinal and behavioral approaches. In addition, the present study is the first to examine both the link between organization28

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29 public relationships and brand attitude and the link between OPRs and purchase intention via the brand attitude. This innovative approach is based on the growing trend of evaluating public relations in the context of relationship management. The present study uses an intercept survey of students. All previous studies on OPRs used surveys to measure relationships between an organization and publics. To allow for generalizations among college students, the present study assumes that an intercept survey is better than a class survey. In addition, survey research is the most frequently used research method in public relations (Pavlik, 1987). A content analysis done by Pavlik and Summerall (1986) found that about 67% of the published studies in public relations journals used the survey method. Surveys are used to gather information from a sample of individuals and are probably the best method available in social sciences because it allows for data collection from a large population (Babbie, 2001). Surveys are popular research methods because they offer many advantages. For example, surveys are versatile in that they enable statistical analysis of data, can be cost-efficient, and can be administered in various ways (Babbie, 2001). However, survey research has the weaknesses of being somewhat artificial, potentially superficial, and difficult to gain a full sense of social processes in their natural settings (Babbie, 2001). However, given the purpose of the current study, survey methodology was used to develop a measure of the perceptions that publics have of their relationships with an organization. The results of the survey will provide data to test the effects of organization-public relationships on attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. Parasuraman et al. (1988) suggested that in order to evaluate the quality of an organizations service, a good approach is to measure the publics perception of it.

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30 Similarly, the present study uses survey methodology to measure the dimensions of OPRs from the perspective of the publics perception of their relationship with a company and brand attitude and purchase intention. Since the survey findings can provide quantifiable evidence of the perceptions that publics have of their relationships with an organization, the results of the present study will contribute to the public relations management and demonstrate the value of the effect of organization-public relationships on brand attitude. The present study used a survey instrument developed by J. E. Grunig and Huang (summarized in Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) from the University of Maryland to measure organization-public relationships. The instrument represents a shorter version of an earlier six-dimension scale (trust, control mutuality, commitment, satisfaction, communal relationships, and exchange relationships) created by the same researchers. J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) argued that trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction represent the essence of OPRs mentioning that these factors occur consistently in the literature regarding interpersonal and organizational relationships. Therefore, the present study uses the four most important dimensions (trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction) out of the six original dimensions of relationship measurement scales. Pretests Before conducting the actual survey, two different pretests were conducted. This preliminary step, less expensive and time consuming than the actual research, is necessary to uncover item ambiguities and other sources of bias and error (Garson, 2003). According to Converse and Presser (1986), a minimum of two pretests is necessary, with 25-75 participants similar to those in the final sample. The two pretests conducted in the present study are described below.

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31 Pretest 1 Pretest 1 was conducted to decide the salient attributes of Sony VAIO computers that could measure product-related attribute beliefs. Thirty students at the University of Florida participated in Pretest 1. Fifteen students were undergraduate students taking Advertising Strategy (ADV 3001) and 15 students were graduate students taking Public Relations Management (PUR 6607). The salient attributes of Sony computers were determined by a free-elicitation technique as recommended by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975). When eliciting the salient beliefs that determine attitudes toward behaviors, it is essential to ensure correspondence in action, target, context, and time elements (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) propose that when we elicit salient beliefs about a consumer buying something in the next six months, we should ask the consumer the following questions: (1) What do you believe are the advantages and disadvantages of your buying something in the next six months? (2) What else do you associate with your buying something in the next six months? However, attempting to understand the reasons for purchasing one brand over another, market researchers have often asked questions such as, In thinking about buying an automobile, what characteristics are important to you? (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Therefore, to elicit salient attributes, respondents in the pretest were given a few minutes to list their thoughts in response to the following question: In thinking about buying a laptop computer, what characteristics are important to you? Clearly, the perceived consequences of buying a Sony VAIO laptop computer may be very different from those of buying a laptop computer in general. As the present study assumed that VAIO was not a brand well known among all college students, respondents were asked to write down the attributes important to them if they were buying any laptop computer instead of a Sony VAIO laptop computer.

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32 Table 3-1 shows the five most frequent salient attributes that the respondents considered important. Table 3-1. Salient attributes of Sony VAIO computers Sony VAIO computer Frequency Percent of responses Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) 27 28.72 Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) 22 23.40 More portable 19 20.21 Better customer service (not including technical service) 10 10.64 Nicer looking design/appearance 9 9.57 Others (customized computer, bundled software, operating platform, etc) 7 7.45 Total 94 100 N=30 Better quality of components (28.72%) such as CD-ROM and DVD drive was regarded as the most important attribute when they consider buying a laptop computer, followed closely by longer/better warranty including technical service (23.40%). Other attributes mentioned by respondents were more portable (20.21%), better customer service not including technical service (10.64%), and nicer looking design/appearance (9.57). Attributes such as customization, bundled software, an operating platform, and others (7.45%) were grouped in a separate category. When selecting the five most mentioned important attributes, brand reputation (12) and price (14) were excluded from the Sony VAIO computers salient attribute list because they are non-product-related attributes. In conclusion, better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive), longer/better warranty (including technical service), more portable, better customer

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33 service (not including technical service), and nicer looking design/appearance were selected as five most salient attributes in the present study. Pretest 2 The second pretest was conducted with 37 University of Florida students to check if college students were qualified as consumers who have established relationships with Sony, and to help identify whether there were any problems with the survey instrument or survey instructions. Participants were 16 graduate students enrolled in Public Relations Management (PUR 6607) course and 21 undergraduate students enrolled in Introduction to Public Speaking (SPC 2600) who completed a self-administered questionnaire. To make sure that college students are suitable for the present study, the students in this pretest were asked how familiar they were with the company Sony, Sonys products in general, and whether they have ever purchased Sony products. Also, this pretest checked how familiar college students were with Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers. The present study assumed that the company and given product category should be well known among college students, even though they do not know about the brand. In addition, this pretest also included questions about their ownership of a computer and a Sony VAIO computer. The pretest results showed that everyone in the sample had some degree of familiarity with the company Sony. Fourteen students (37.8%) answered somewhat familiar, 15 students (40.5%) answered familiar, and 8 students (21.6%) answered very familiar to the question How familiar are you with the company Sony?. Regarding the familiarity with the Sonys products in general, only one student (2.7%) answered not familiar at all, 13 students (35.1%) answered somewhat familiar, 17 students (45.9%) answered familiar, and 6 students (16.2%) answered very familiar.

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34 Of all 37 students, only two of them had never purchased any Sony products before. In terms of ownership of computers, 35 students had personal computers and two students did not Of the 35 students who had computers, five students (14.3%) had a Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computer. As the present study assumed, most students were not familiar with Sony VAIO computers. Eighteen students (48.6%) answered not familiar at all, 13 students (35.1%) answered somewhat familiar, two students answered familiar, and four students (10.8%) answered very familiar to the question, How familiar are you with Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers?. Of those four students who answered very familiar, three students already had Sony VAIO computers. In regards to the wording of relationship questionnaire items, the respondents answers seemed to indicate that the questions asked were relevant to students as consumers of Sony. In the instructions at the beginning of the relationship questionnaire, the explicit sentence, When answering each question, think about your relationship with Sony as a customer made respondents answer the questions thinking of themselves as customers of Sony. To avoid confusion, certain items used by previous studies were slightly modified in the present study. Specifically, the statement people like me, which was present in several items, was changed to me as a customer. For example, a question borrowed from previous public relations instruments, Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know it will be concerned about people like me, was reworded to Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know they will be concerned about me as a customer. In addition, one item with negative meaning was changed into a positive meaning as to not confuse respondents. The original question, In dealing with people like me, Sony has a tendency to throw its weight around was reworded as In

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35 dealing with customers like me, Sony does not have a tendency to throw its weight around. Also, the original wording of the question, This organization and people like me are attentive to what each other say was changed to Sony and I pay attention to what each other communicated. Table 3-2 indicates the means of familiarity with Sony, Sony products in general, and Sony VAIO computers in particular. Table 3-2. The means of familiarity with Sony, Sony products and Sony VAIO computers Mean SD Familiarity with the company Sony 2.84 .76 Familiarity with Sony products general 2.76 .76 Familiarity with Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers 1.78 .98 Note : Each item was measured on a 4-point Likert scale. In conclusion, the results of the first pretest provided the five most salient attributes for measuring product-related attribute beliefs based on the expectancy-value model. Better quality of components (27%) was the most important attribute, followed by longer/better warranty (22%), more portable (19%), better customer service (10%), and nicer looking design/appearance. The second pretest confirmed that college students fit the present study as customers of Sony based on their familiarity with the company, its products, and prior buying experience of Sony products. The degree of familiarity with the company Sony and Sony products in general served as the prerequisite that college students are likely to have relationships with Sony. In addition, reworded relationship questionnaire items proved to be appropriate to college students as customers of Sony.

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36 Survey Sample and Procedure College students are heavy users and buyers of computers, and therefore are relevant respondents for the present study. Two hundred thirty-three students at the University of Florida voluntarily agreed to complete the survey. Data collection took place in the Plaza of the Americas, a public area and forum on the university campus, on two days from 11a.m. to 2p.m. Respondents who completed the survey received pizza as an incentive for their participation. Before beginning the analysis, the present study had to eliminate responses that did not qualify for the study, as explained below. Because this survey questionnaire was designed for a student sample, four non-student respondents were excluded from the present study. Twenty-eight people who already had Sony VAIO computers were also excluded because they were not qualified to answer the question about the intent to buy a Sony VAIO computer in the near future. People who answered not familiar at all to either question of familiarity with the company Sony or with Sonys products in general were excluded. Also, seven people who had never purchased Sonys products before were excluded because the present study assumed that they have no relationship with Sony. Eleven incomplete questionnaires were also eliminated, because the respondents skipped a significant number of items. One participant that answered to all 7-point Likert scale questions was excluded from the present study as well. Therefore, out of 233 completed questionnaires, a total of 52 questionnaires were excluded. As a result, the final sample contained 178 valid cases.

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37 Measures J. E. Grunig, Huang and other graduate students in public relations at the University of Maryland have developed reliable indicators of public perceptions of organization-public relationships. The initial scale was composed of six relationship indicators: trust, control mutuality, satisfaction, commitment, communal relationships, and exchange relationships. A pilot survey using the instrument was conducted to see how respondents perceived their relationships with five well-known organizations (General Electric, the National Rifle Association, the Social Security Administration, Microsoft, and the American Red Cross). Based upon the pilots low response rate, the researchers developed a shortened version of the instrument with only four indicators: trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction. The study proved that the scales used for all four relationship indicators were highly reliable. All reliability coefficients were above .80 and many approached .90. Table 3-3 shows the values of Cronbachs alpha for these four indicators of relationships with five organizations. Table 3-3. Cronbachs alpha for four indicators of relationships with five organizations Relationship indicator General Electric National Rifle Assoc. Social Security Microsoft Red Cross Mean alpha value Trust 6-item scale .86 .81 .89 .86 .86 .86 Control Mutuality 4-item scale .85 .85 .86 .86 .84 .85 Commitment 4-item scale .81 .89 .83 .82 .84 .84 Satisfaction 4-item scale .86 .89 .89 .88 .86 .88 *Source: Hon, L. C., & Grunig, J. E. (1999). Guidelines for Measuring Relatiosnhips in Public Relations. Gainesville, FL: The Institute for Public Relations.

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38 J. E. Grunig and Huang (summarized in Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) proved that these scales, given their high reliability, were good measures of organization-public relationships and that they could be used to measure strength of relationships in either quantitative or qualitative research. J. E. Grunig and Huang suggested that the number of instrument items chosen depends upon a researchers needs. However, J. E. Grunig and Huang advised that using the shorter index is likely to increase the completion rate. Hence, our study adopts the shortest scales comprised of four relationship indicators. J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) have identified trust, control mutuality, relationship commitment, and relationship satisfaction as the most important outcome factors in organization-public relationships because they appear consistently in both organizational and interpersonal communication literature. All of the relationship items used a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). In regards to predict brand attitude, probably the most widely used approach is based on a multi-attribute formulation, in which brand attitudes are seen as a function of the associated attributes and benefits that are salient for the brand (Keller, 1998). The present study adopts Fishbein and Ajens expectancy-value model () as a framework for predicting brand attitudes. niiiebA10 To measure brand attitude, the most frequently used multi-dimensional scale (unfavorable-favorable, bad-good, dislike-like, and negative-positive) in the 1990s Journal of Advertising was adopted (Woo, 2001). Studies in the 1990s using that multi-dimensional scale reported high reliability coefficients of items, ranging from .84 to .97.

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39 In regard to purchase intention, a three-item scale (unlikely/likely, impossible/possible, and improbable/probable) was adapted from Mackenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986). Cronbachs alpha for these items was over .88. Machleit, Allen, and Madden (1993) also used this scale and their coefficient alpha values were above .95. The survey ended with a section of demographic questions such as gender, age, and year in school. Table 3-4 presents the operational definitions of all variables used in the present study. Table 3-4. Operationalization of variables Variable Operational Definition Trust One partys level of confidence in and willingness to open oneself to the other party (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) Control mutuality The degree to which parties agree on who has rightful power to influence one another (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) Commitment The extent to which one party believes and feels that the relationship is worth spending energy to maintain and promote (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) Satisfaction The extent to which one party feels favorably toward the other because positive expectations about the relationships are reinforced (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) Product-related attribute beliefs A function of (1) beliefs about the attitude object, defined as the subjective assumption that the attitude object has particular attributes, and (2) the importance of these beliefs, defined as the importance of each attribute (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975) Attitude toward the brand Consumers overall evaluations of a brand (Wilkie, 1990) Multi-item scales (unfavorable-favorable, bad-good, dislike-like, and negative-positive) were used (Holbrook & Batra, 1987) Purchase intention Consumers tendency to act toward an object. Multi-item scales (unlikely-likely, impossible-possible, and improbable-probable) were used (Mackenzie, Lutz, & Belch,1986) Independent Variables Trust. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunigs (1999) definition of trust as one partys level of confidence in and willingness to open oneself to the other party (p. 14). Respondents were asked to indicate the degree of trust they had in Sony

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40 on 7-point scales ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). A total of six items, as used in Hon and J. E. Grunigs (1999) study, were employed to measure trust (see Table 3-5). Control mutuality. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunigs (1999) definition of control mutuality as the degree to which parties agree on who has rightful power to influence one another (p. 13). Control mutuality was measured with a four-item sub-scale from Hon and J. E. Grunigs scale (1999). However, in the present study, one reverse item was changed to the opposite meaning as to not confuse respondents (see Table 3-5). Responses ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Commitment. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunigs (1999) definition of commitment as the extent to which one party believes and feels that the relationship is worth spending energy to maintain and promote (p. 14). Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) used a four-item scale to measure the commitment of the public to the organization. To provide consistency, the present study measured commitment on the same 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). Satisfaction. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunigs (1999) definition of satisfaction as the extent to which one party feels favorably toward the other because positive expectations about the relationships are reinforced (p. 14). Again, Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) used a four-item sub-scale to measure satisfaction. Accordingly, the present study measured satisfaction using the same 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) on four items. Product-related Attribute Beliefs. The present study adopted Fishbein and Ajzens (1975) expectancy-value model as a tool for predicting brand attitude. According to Fishbein and Ajzens expectancy-value model, beliefs, as causes of

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41 attitudes are a function of (a) beliefs about the attitude object, defined as the subjective probability that the attitude object has each attribute, and (b) the evaluative aspect of these beliefs, defined as the evaluation of each attribute (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). Expectancy-value formulation is expressed algebraically as follows: niiiebA10 where Ao is the attitude toward the object, action, or event, o; bi is the belief i about o (expressed as the subjective probability that o has the attribute i); e i is the evaluation of the attribute i; and n is the number of salient attributes (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). For example, if a person believes that a new car is visually appealing but lacks safety features, these attributes will be represented by the subjective evaluation that the car has those attributes (i.e., high probability of visual appeal and low probability of safety features), as well as by the evaluation of each attribute (i.e., the positive evaluation of visual appeal and safety features). In this example, a person may rate the above attributes as follows: 5 for visual appeal and 3 for safety features on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely). Also, the person may evaluate the above attributes as follows: 2 for visual appeal and 6 for safety features on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (extremely bad) to 7 (extremely good). Thus, the persons attitude toward the car can be predicted by multiplying his or her evaluation of each of the attributes by the strength of his or her belief (5*2=10; 3*6=18) and then summing the all salient beliefs for the total set of beliefs (10+18=28). In conclusion, it can be said that the persons attitude toward the car is predicted to be slightly positive (in this example, 2 would be the lowest possible score, and 98 would be the highest).

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42 However, unlike Fishbeins (1963) evaluative component of the expectancy-value model, in the present study attribute evaluation was measured in terms of importance borrowed from Galloway and Meeks (1981) research. Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) found that the addition of the importance factor in the expectancy-value model did not improve, but sometimes even attenuated the prediction of attitudes. That may be partially due to the closeness of salient belief items included in the expectancy-value model and important belief items (Cai, 2001). The present study measures laptop-related attributes, which will vary by user preference and purpose of usage. Hence, some attributes may be salient to certain users, but not at all to others. Therefore, the importance factor can be more valuable than the good-bad factor in predicting brand attitude in the present study. The salient attributes of Sony computers were determined by a free-elicitation technique recommended by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), and a pretest was conducted for that purpose. Product-related attribute beliefs were measured by asking respondents how likely they will have certain attributes in a Sony VAIO laptop computer on a 7-point measurement scale ranged from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely). The importance of the attributes was measured by asking respondents to evaluate each of them. While Fishbeins evaluation scale ranges from -4 (bad) to 4 (good), the present study used the importance scale from 1 (extremely unimportant) to 7 (extremely important). Finally, to predict brand attitude, product-related attribute beliefs were multiplied by the importance of each of the salient attributes, and these values were summed.

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43 Table 3-5. Items measuring independent variables Trust (6-item scale) Sony treats me fairly and justly as a customer. Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know they will be concerned about me as a customer. Sony can be relied on to keep its promises to me as a customer. I believe that Sony takes my opinions into account as a customer when making decisions. I feel very confident about Sonys skills. Sony has the ability to accomplish what it says it will do. Control mutuality (4-item scale) Sony and I pay attention to what each other communicate. Sony believes my opinions as a customer are legitimate. In dealing with customers like me, Sony does not have a tendency to throw its weight around. Sony really listens to what I have to say as a customer. Commitment (4-item scale) I feel that Sony is trying to maintain a long-term commitment with me as a customer. Sony wants to maintain a relationship with me as a customer. There is a long-term bond between Sony and me as a customer. Compared to other companies, I value my relationship with Sony more. Satisfaction (4-item scale) I am happy with Sony. Both Sony and I benefit from our relationship. I am happy with my interactions with Sony. Generally speaking, I am pleased with the relationship Sony has established with me. Beliefs of the Salient Attributes Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) Better customer service (not including technical service) Nicer looking design/appearance Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) More portable Importance of the salient attributes Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) Better customer service (not including technical service) Nicer looking design/appearance Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) More portable Dependent Variables Attitude toward the brand (Ab). Brand attitude has been one of the most widely examined constructs in consumer behavior (Berger & Mitchell, 1989). The present study adopts Wilkies (1990) conceptualization and defines attitude toward the brand as consumers overall evaluations of a brand. In the present study, attitude toward the brand

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44 was measured by four-items using a 7-point scale (see Table 3-6). The scales (unfavorable-favorable, bad-good, dislike-like, and negative-positive) were borrowed from prior research by Holbrook and Batra (1987). Their reliability coefficient alpha for these items was .98, suggesting the brand attitude measure had extremely high internal consistency. In addition, thirteen advertising studies that used the same multi-item scales reported Cronbachs alphas ranging from .84 to .97 (Woo, 2001). Table 3-6. Items measuring dependent variables Attitude toward the brand (4-item scale) Unfavorable/Favorable Bad/Good Dislike/Like Negative/Positive Purchase intention (3-item scale) Unlikely/Likely Impossible/Possible Improbable/Probable Purchase intention (PI). In the present study, purchase intention is defined as consumers tendency to act toward an object. Purchase intention was measured with a three-item scale adapted from Mackenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986) (see Table 3-6). They suggested that a Dual Mediation Hypothesis (DMH), which postulates that attitude toward the advertising influences brand attitude both directly and indirectly through its effect on brand cognitions, is superior to other three models under particular conditions in the pretest stage. The DMH was developed in research dealing with attitude toward the brand and affective motivation. The results represented accurately the interrelationships among brand and ad cognitions and purchase intention (Mackenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986).

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45 Respondents were asked, What is the probability that you will try this brand when it becomes available in your area? In each case, they chose from the following responses: unlikely/likely, impossible/possible, and improbable/probable. Mackenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986) obtained a Cronbachs alpha coefficient of over .88 for these items. In conclusion, the present study adopts the shortest scales for the four most important dimensions of Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999)s relationship measurement scales. All relationship items were measured on 7-point Likert scales ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). In addition to relationship theory, the present study uses the expectancy-value model to measure the effects of product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude. However, instead of Fishbiens (1963) evaluative component of the expectancy-value model, the importance component of the salient attributes was used. In addition, reliable multi-item scales of brand attitude and purchase intention were used. Data Analysis The data were analyzed using Pearsons correlations, multiple regression analysis, and path analysis. Pearsons correlations were run before conducting multiple regression analysis in order to determine any significant relationships among the variables in this study. Multiple regression analysis was used to measure the effect of each indicator of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand. The general purpose of multiple regression is to learn more about the relationship between several independent or predictor variables and a dependent or criterion variable. Multiple regression procedures are widely used in social science research, because they allow the researcher to answer the question, What is the best predictor of ...? Using multiple regression, the present

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46 study investigates whether the dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs are significantly related to brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand attitude, and whether brand attitude determines purchase intention. In addition, using path analysis, the present study measures the causal relationships between (1) each indicator of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs and (2) purchase intention via brand attitude. Path analysis is an extension of the regression model, used to test the fit of the correlation matrix against two or more causal models which are being compared by the researcher (Garson, 2003). Path analysis utilizes as many regression models as necessary to include all hypothesized relationships in the theoretical explanation.

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CHAPTER 4 FINDINGS Overview of the Statistical Analysis In order to analyze the data collected for the present study, the SPSS program was used. The data set contained a total of 178 cases. This chapter consists of three sections. First, descriptive statistics about the present study respondents are discussed. Second, the research questions and hypotheses are addressed, using Pearson correlation and regression analyses (simple regression, multiple regression, and hierarchical regression). Finally, the results of the path analysis, performed to measure the causal relationships between (1) each indicator of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs and (2) purchase intention via brand attitude, are presented. Profile of the Sample All respondents used for analysis in the present study were college students at the University of Florida. Of the 178 total respondents, 95 (53.4%) were males and 83 (46.6%) were females (see Table 4-1). Most of them were undergraduate students (81.5%), and the remainder were graduate students. In terms of academic classification, 16 respondents (9.0%) were freshmen, 34 (19.1%) were sophomores, 40 (22.5%) were juniors, 55 (30.9%) were seniors, and 33 (18.5%) were graduate students. Respondents age ranged from 18 to 40. However, over 90% of respondents were in the 18-25 age group. The mean age was 21.76 years old.% 47

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48 Table 4-1. Demographic profile of the respondents Frequency Valid Percent Gender Males 95 53.4 Females 83 46.6 Total 178 100 Age 18 25 162 91.0 26 35 14 7.87 Over 35 2 1.12 Total 178 100 Education Level Freshmen 16 9.0 Sophomores 34 19.1 Juniors 40 22.5 Seniors 55 30.9 Graduate students 33 18.5 Total 178 100 Relationship Assessment-Familiarity In the survey, respondents were asked how familiar they were with the company Sony, Sonys products in general, and Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers. To make sure that they are customers of, and had established relationships with Sony, the respondents should be at least somewhat familiar with the company and its products. The results showed that the students in the sample fit the present study as customers of Sony. Table 4-2 presents the respondents familiarity with Sony, Sonys products and Sony VAIO computers. In terms of familiarity with the company Sony, 46 students (25.8%) were somewhat familiar, 66 students (37.1%) were familiar, and 66 students (37.1%) were very familiar (see Table 4-2). When it came to familiarity with Sony products in general, 53 students (29.8%) were somewhat familiar, 80 students (44.9%) were familiar, and 45 students (25.3%) were very familiar (see Table 4-2). Familiarity with the company Sony and Sonys products in general indicates the existence of a relationship with Sony.

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49 Respondents were also asked whether they had purchased Sony products before to see if they were customers of Sony. All respondents had purchased Sony products before. Regarding familiarity with Sony VAIO computers, 79 students (44.4%) were not familiar at all, 54 students (30.3%) were somewhat familiar, 34 students (19.1%) were familiar, and 11 students (6.2%) were very familiar (see Table 4-2). In terms of computer ownership, 149 students (83.7%) had computers, while 29 students (16.3%) did not own a computer. Since no respondent in the sample had a Sony VAIO computer, the present study assumed that the respondents did not have prior attitudes toward Sony VAIO laptop computers Table 4-2. Responses indicating familiarity with Sony, Sonys products and Sony VAIO computers Familiarity with the company Sony Familiarity with the Sonys products in general Familiarity with Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers M 3.11 2.96 1.87 SD .79 .74 .93 Not familiar at all ------------79 (44.4%) Somewhat familiar 46 (25.8%) 53 (29.8%) 54 (30.3%) Familiar 66 (37.1%) 80 (44.9%) 34 (19.1%) Very familiar 66 (37.1%) 45 (25.3%) 11 (6.2) Total 178 (100%) 178 (100%) 178 (100%) Note : Each item was measured on 4-point Likert-scales. Descriptions of the Variables A summary of the general findings of the variables in the present study is shown in Table 4-3. As mentioned in the previous chapter, all the items in the present study were 7-point, semantic differential scales.

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50 Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs) Eighteen items were used to measure organization-public relationships, of which six were measures of trust, four were measures of control mutuality, four were measures of commitment, and four were measures of satisfaction. The mean score for trust in Sony was 4.70, for control mutuality 4.22, for commitment4.24, and for satisfaction 4.68. Trust received the highest mean score while control mutuality received the lowest (see Table 4-3). Beliefs and Importance of Salient Attributes The mean score of beliefs about salient attributes was 5.22 (see Table 4-3). Of the five salient attributes, the respondents rated more portable as the attribute most likely to find in a Sony laptop computer, and nicer looking design/appearance as the attribute least likely to find in a Sony laptop computer. In terms of importance of the salient attributes, the respondents rated better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) as the most important attribute, and nicer looking design/appearance as the least important attribute. The mean score of the five items of importance of the salient attributes was 5.65, which was higher than the mean score of the beliefs about the salient attributes (see Table 4-3). Attitude toward the Brand The respondents were asked, What is your attitude toward the Sony VAIO laptop computer? They answered on four semantic differential scales regarding the following items: unfavorable/favorable, bad/good, dislike/like, and negative/positive. The mean score of the four items measuring attitude toward the brand was 4.82 (see Table 4-3).

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51 Purchase Intention The respondents rated their intent to buy a Sony VAIO laptop computer the lowest of all variables measured in the present study. The mean score of the three items of purchase intention was 3.62 on a 7-point semantic differential scale. Table 4-3. Descriptive statistics of each variable Number of items N M SD Trust 6 Sony treats me fairly and justly as a customer. 178 4.57 1.11 Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know they will be concerned about me as a customer. 178 4.18 1.21 Sony can be relied on to keep its promises to me as a customer. 178 4.56 1.26 I believe that Sony takes my opinions into account as a customer when making decisions. 176 4.51 1.25 I feel very confident about Sonys skills. 178 5.31 1.24 Sony has the ability to accomplish what it says it will do. 178 5.17 1.16 Category mean 4.70 .97 Control mutuality 4 Sony and I pay attention to what each other communicate. 176 4.02 1.47 Sony believes my opinions as a customer are legitimate. 176 4.39 1.23 In dealing with customers like me, Sony does not have a tendency to throw its weight around. 174 4.26 1.21 Sony really listens to what I have to say as a customer. 175 4.21 1.26 Category mean 4.22 1.10 Commitment 4 I feel that Sony is trying to maintain a long-term commitment with me as a customer. 175 4.45 1.47 Sony wants to maintain a relationship with me as a customer. 175 4.69 1.41 There is a long-term bond between Sony and me as a customer. 176 3.97 1.61 Compared to other companies, I value my relationship with Sony more. 177 3.88 1.70 Category mean 4.24 1.34 Satisfaction 4 I am happy with Sony. 177 4.90 1.37 Both Sony and I benefit from our relationship. 176 4.55 1.40

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52 Table 4-3. Continued Number of items N M SD I am happy with my interactions with Sony. 176 4.69 1.20 Generally speaking, I am pleased with the relationship Sony has established with me. 176 4.61 1.27 Category mean 4.68 1.20 Beliefs about salient attributes 5 Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) 178 5.08 1.36 Better customer service (not including technical service) 178 4.92 1.31 Nicer looking design/appearance 177 5.29 1.32 Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) 177 5.40 1.33 More portable 177 5.41 1.32 Category mean 5.22 1.07 Importance of the attributes 5 Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) 178 5.83 1.36 Better customer service (not including technical service) 178 5.63 1.38 Nicer looking design/appearance 178 4.98 1.49 Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) 178 6.12 1.17 More portable 178 5.67 1.31 Category mean 5.65 .95 Attitude toward the brand 4 Unfavorable/Favorable 176 4.82 1.36 Bad/Good 174 4.75 1.32 Dislike/Like 173 4.83 1.25 Negative/Positive 175 4.88 1.26 Category mean 4.82 1.18 Purchase intention 3 Unlikely/Likely 176 3.20 1.90 Impossible/Possible 175 4.06 1.69 Improbably/Probable 175 3.62 1.79 Category mean 3.62 1.67 Reliability Checks For the integration of items, the present study averaged the value of all items for each variable. As a prerequisite for averaging, the items within each variable should have a high internal reliability; thus, Cronbachs alpha was computed. Alpha is a coefficient that indicates how well the items measuring the same characteristic correlate with one

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53 another (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Generally, reliability coefficients over .90 are considered excellent, over .80 very good, and values over .70 are adequate (Kline, 1998). Table 4-4 shows that Cronbachs alpha of each scale exceeded .75, which means that all scales can be used statistically in the present study. Table 4-4. Cronbachs alpha of variables Variable Cronbachs Alpha Trust .90 Control mutuality .87 Commitment .89 Satisfaction .93 Beliefs of the salient attributes .86 Importance of the salient attribute .75 Attitude toward the brand .93 Purchase intention .92 Particularly, the reliability coefficients obtained were higher than those found in J. E. Grunig and Huangs (summarized in Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) research that originated the scales used here. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Maryland study produced highly reliable scales for all the relationship indicators. The reliability coefficient of trust was .90, which was higher than .86 of the Maryland research. The reliability coefficient of control mutuality was .87, which was higher than .85 of the Maryland research. Regarding commitment, its reliability coefficient was .89, which was higher than .84 of the Maryland research. The reliability coefficient of satisfaction was .93, which was also higher than .88 of the Maryland research. In terms of attitude toward the brand, its reliability coefficient was .93, which could fall into the range from .84 to .97 of the same multi-item scale for brand attitude in the 1990s Journal of Advertising.

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54 The reliability coefficient of purchase intention was .92, which was higher than Mackenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986)s Cronbachs alpha of the same multi-items. Based on these results, the present study averaged the values of items for each variable. However, based on expectancy-value model, product-related attribute beliefs were multiplied by the importance of each of the salient attributes, and these values were summed. Research Questions and Hypotheses Testing Test of Research Question 1 RQ1: How are the four dimensions of organization-public relationshipstrust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfactionrelated to attitude toward the brand? Before conducting a multiple regression analysis, Pearson correlations were run in order to determine any significant relationships between each of the dimensions of organization-public relations with attitude toward the brand. Pearsons r is a measure of association which varies from -1 to +1, with 0 indicating no linear relationship and -/+1 indicating a perfect negative/positive linear relationship (Garson, 2003). Table 4-5 shows that all variables measuring dimensions of OPRs correlated with brand attitude. All correlations were statistically significant at the level of 0.01. The resulting Pearsons r ranged from .251 to .803 (see Table 4-5). Trust correlated most strongly with control mutuality (r=.775, p<.001) and the least with brand attitude, although r was still significant (r=.251, p<.001). Control mutuality correlated most strongly with commitment (r=.784, p<.001), while commitment correlated most strongly with satisfaction (r=.803, p<.001). Satisfaction correlated most strongly with trust (r=.706, p=.001). Of all variables, brand attitude as

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55 the dependent variable generated the weakest correlations, yet still significant, with its predictor variables (see Table 4-5). In brief, these correlation results showed that (1) the four dimensions of OPRs were significantly related to attitude toward the brand, partially confirming the theoretical assumption of the relationship between OPRs and attitude toward the brand, and (2) the four dimensions of OPR were strongly associated with one another, indicating that there might be high multicollinearity among the four dimensions of OPRs in explaining the variance of attitude toward the brand. Table 4-5. Correlations of the dimensions of OPRs and attitude toward the brand Trust Control mutuality Commitment Satisfaction Brand attitude Trust 1.00 Control mutuality .775** 1.00 Commitment .731** .784** 1.00 Satisfaction .706** .709** .803** 1.00 Brand attitude .251** .302** .300** .367** 1.00 Note : **. P< .01 (2-tailed). A multiple regression of brand attitude including all four dimensions of organization-public relationship was performed. As shown in Table 4-6, the equation is statistically significant (F=6.274, p<.001), and 13.6% of the variance in brand attitude is explained statistically by the four dimensions of OPRs. Of the four independent variables, only satisfaction predicted significantly the attitude toward the brand (=.358, p<.05). This result implied that there were possible multicollinearity problems. Such problems occur when any single independent variable is highly correlated with a set of other independent variables (Hair et al. 1998).

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56 To assess multivariate multicollinearity, partial correlations were tested in the present study. The partial correlation relates directly to the bivariate Pearson correlations between each pair of variables controlling for the rest of variables (Agresti & Finlay, 1997). As shown in Table 4-6, compared to Pearson correlation values, partial correlations of trust, control mutuality, and commitment with attitude toward the brand showed very different values except for satisfaction. Particularly, both trust and commitment had negative partial correlation values. Therefore, multicollinearity possibly caused the result of this multiple regression model. Table 4-6. Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction as independent variables Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients Correlations Variables B SE Beta t Sig. zero-orde r p artial Trust -.129 .152 -.108 -.849 .397 .239 -.067 Control mutuality .166 .144 .160 1.158 .248 .297 .091 Commitment -4.072E-02 .125 -.047 -.327 .744 .289 -.026 Satisfaction .347 .129 .358 2.702 .008 .358 .210 R 2 = .136 Adjusted R 2 = .115 F-ratio= 6.274 (p<.001) Note : *p<.05 In conclusion, the results showed that generally OPRs were significantly related to attitude toward the brand. However, high correlations among the four dimensions of OPRs do not allow for more exact interpretations regarding the effects of individual dimensions on attitude toward the brand. Test of Hypothesis 1 H1: Product-related attribute beliefs are related to attitude toward the brand.

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57 Before conducting regression analysis, Pearsons correlations were run to determine if significant relationships existed between each of the product-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude. As shown in Table 4-7, all product-related attribute beliefs correlated with attitude toward the brand and the correlations were statistically significant at the level of 0.01. The resulting Pearsons r ranged from .293 to .733. The correlation between longer/better warranty (including technical service) and better customer service (not including technical service) was the highest (r=.733, p<.001). In terms of the correlations between each of the product-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude, nicer looking design/appearance had the highest Pearsons r (r=.339, p<.001), better quality of components had the second highest Pearsons r (r=.333, p<.001), longer/better warranty (including technical service) ranked third (r=.323, p<.001), more portable ranked fourth (r=.293, p<.001), and better customer service (not including technical service) had the lowest Pearsons r (r=.310, p<.001). In addition to the regression analysis of attitude toward brand with each of the five product-related attribute beliefs as independent variables, a regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with the sum of product-related attribute beliefs as one independent variable was conducted. As shown in Table 4-7, the correlations between each of the product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand were relatively high, yet statistically significant.

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58 Table 4-7. Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand Attribute1 Attribute2 Attirubute3 Attirbute4 Attirbute5 Brand attitude Attribute1 1.00 Attribute2 .733** 1.00 Attribute3 .545** .555** 1.00 Attirbute4 .616** .574** .554** 1.00 Attirbute5 .395** .388** .444** .661** 1.00 Brand attitude .323** .310** .339** .333** .293** 1.00 Note : Attribute1: Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) Attirbute2: Better customer service (not including technical service) Attirbute3: Nicer looking design/appearance Attirbute4: Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) Attirbute5: More portable **P< 0.01 Table 4-8. Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with each of the product-related attribute beliefs Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients Variables B SE Beta t Sig. Attribute1 1.013E-02 .011 .101 .909 .364 Attribute2 6.731E-03 .011 .065 .591 .556 Attribute3 1.533E-02 .009 .160 1.740 .084 Attribute4 7.796E-03 .012 .072 .638 .525 Attribute5 1.136E-02 .010 .111 1.168 .244 R 2 = .164 Adjusted R 2 = .139 F-ratio= 6.537 (p<.001) Note : Attribute1: Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) Attribute2: Better customer service (not including technical service) Attribute3: Nicer looking design/appearance Attribute4: Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) Attribute5: More portable

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59 The results of multiple regression analysis presented in Table 4-8 suggests that none of the product-related attribute beliefs were significant predictors of brand attitude. Only nicer looking design/appearance somewhat approached the significance level (p<.084). Based on the fact that all of the product-related attribute beliefs were highly correlated with one another, the present study summed them up, thus creating an overall measure of product-related attribute beliefs. According to the expectancy-valued model, a persons attitude toward an object can be predicted by multiplying the evaluation of each of the attributes by beliefs about the object, and then summing each of the attribute beliefs for the total set of beliefs (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Therefore, summing up all of the product-related attribute beliefs was justified by Ajzen and Fishbeins theory. Table 4-9 indicates that product-related attribute beliefs correlated relatively strongly and significantly with attitude toward the brand (r=.402, p<.001). Table 4-9. Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand Product-related attributes beliefs Attitude toward the brand Product-related attribute beliefs 1.00 Attitude toward the brand .402** 1.00 Note : **p<.01 The results in Table 4-10 confirmed that product-related attribute beliefs explained statistically 16.2% of variance in attitude toward the brand.

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60 Table 4-10. Regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with product-related attribute beliefs Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients Variables B SE Beta t Sig Product-related attribute beliefs 1.029E-02 .002 .402 5.741 .000 R 2 = .162 Adjusted R 2 = .157 F-ratio= 32.960 (p<.001) When the two regression equations using individual product-related attribute beliefs and the integrated product-related attribute beliefs are compared with each other, it can be noticed that the adjusted R 2 was improved in the second case from .139 to .157, while R 2 stayed almost the same. Considering the high correlations among individual product-related attribute beliefs, it appears more appropriate to use the total product-related attribute beliefs to predict brand attitude. Test of Research Question 2 RQ2: Are there any significant differences between the impact of organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand? Based on the results to research question 1, of the four dimensions of OPRs, satisfaction was the only significant predictor. Concerning hypothesis 1, product-related attribute beliefs significantly predicted attitude toward the brand. In order to examine the relative importance of all possible independent variables for predicting attitude toward the brand, a multiple analysis of attitude toward the brand including all independent variables was conducted.

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61 Table 4-11. Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with the dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients Variables B SE Beta t Sig. Trust -.144 .147 -.120 -.980 .329 Control mutuality 8.531E-02 .140 .082 .608 .544 Commitment -2.337E-02 .120 -.027 -.194 .846 Satisfaction .267 .126 .275* 2.118 .036 Product-related attribute beliefs 7.297E-03 .002 .295** 3.637 .000 R 2 = .203 Adjusted R 2 = .178 F-ratio= 8.050 (p<.001) Note : *p<.05, **p< 0.01 Table 4-11 demonstrates that this equation was significant (F=8.050, p<.001), with 20.3% of the variance in attitude toward the brand explained statistically by the dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs. Of all independent variables, only satisfaction (=.275, p<.05) and product-related attribute beliefs (=.295, p<.001) significantly predicted attitude toward the brand. However, the results of multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with independent variables were insufficient to answer research question 2. To ascertain the predictive power of two different sets of independent variables (the dimensions of OPRs on one hand, and product-related attribute beliefs on the other) on attitude toward the brand, a hierarchical regression analysis was needed. When using a hierarchical regression, the researcher, not the computer, determines the order of entry of the variables. F-tests are used to compute the significance of each added variable or set of variables to the explanation reflected in R 2 (Garson, 2003). The F-test is used to test the significance of the regression model as a whole, with F being a function of R 2 the number of independent variables, and the number of cases (Garson,

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62 2003). This hierarchical procedure is an alternative to comparing betas for the purpose of examining the importance of different independent variables (Garson, 2003). Hence, two hierarchical regressions were conducted to examine whether the dimensions of OPRs or product-related attribute beliefs better explained attitude toward the brand. In other words, hierarchical regressions were performed to investigate whether or not the effect of OPRs on brand attitude as an exploratory attempt and the expectancy-value model worked. In the first regression model, which represents a test of the variance in brand attitude explained by OPRs, product-related attribute beliefs were entered in Step 1 of the analysis, and the dimensions of OPRs were entered in Step 2. As indicated in Table 4-12, product-related attribute beliefs explained 15.7% of variance in attitude toward the brand (=.396, p<.001). When the dimensions of OPRs were entered in Step 2 of the analysis, an additional 4.6 % of variance was explained. However, the increase in R 2 by adding the dimensions of OPRs in Step 2 was not statistically significant at the .05 level. Table 4-12. Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to examine the predictive power of OPRs Model R 2 R 2 Change F change Sig of F 1 .157 .157 30.075 .000 2 .203 .046 2.302 .061 Note : Model 1: Independent variable: Product-related attribute beliefs Model 2: Independent variables: Product-related attribute beliefs and OPRs In a second hierarchical analysis, the dimensions of OPRs were entered in Step 1 of the regression analysis, and product-related attribute beliefs were entered in Step 2 to check for the predictive power of product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude. After Step 1 of the regression analysis, the dimensions of OPRs explained 13.6% of variance in

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63 attitude toward the brand (see Table 4-13). Step 2 of the regression analysis produced an increase in the variance by 6.7% showing a significance of association with attitude toward the brand at the .01 level. Table 4-13. Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to examine the predictive power of product-related attribute beliefs Model R 2 R 2 Change F change Sig of F 1 .136 .136 6.274 .000 2 .203 .067 13.226 .000 Note : Model 1: Independent variable: OPRs Model 2: Independent variables: OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs In brief, when the dimensions of OPRs were entered in Step 2 of the first hierarchical regression analysis, an additional 4.6% of variance was explained, but the result was not significant. On the other hand, when the product-related attribute beliefs were entered in Step 2 of the second hierarchical regression analysis, the percent of variance increased by 6.7, significant at the .01 level. Therefore, it appears that beliefs about product-related attributes are a better predictor of attitude toward the brand than the dimensions of OPRs. Test of Hypothesis 2 H2: Attitude toward the brand is positively related to purchase intention. Table 4-14 indicates that attitude toward the brand correlated strongly and significantly with purchase intention (r=.510, p<.001). Table 4-14. Correlation between attitude toward the brand and purchase intention Attitude toward the brand Purchase intention Attitude toward the brand 1.00 Purchase intention .510** 1.00 Note : **p<.01

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64 A regression analysis was conducted for the purchase intention predicted by attitude toward the brand. According to Table 4-15, 26.1% of variance in purchase intention was explained by attitude toward the brand. Table 4-15. Regression analysis of purchase intention with attitude toward the brand Dependent variable: Purchase intention Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. Variables B SE Beta Attitude toward the brand .720 .093 .510 7.739 .000 R 2 = .261 Adjusted R 2 = .256 F-ratio: 59.892 (p<.001) Path Analysis As J. E. Grunig (1993) argued, for public relations to be valued in organizations, public relations practitioners have to demonstrate that their efforts contribute to organizational goals by building long-term behavioral relationships with publics. Also, Ledingham and Bruning (2000) concluded that relationship dimension ratings could be used to predict the behavior of public members. Based on the notion that organizations must involve in behavioral initiatives to manage the organization-public relationships, the present study attempts to explore the causal relationships between each dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs and purchase intention via brand attitude using path analysis. Path analysis is a statistical procedure consisting of a series of regression analyses. However, there are advantages to using the path analysis approach. The key advantage is that the researcher can demonstrate causal relationships between variables,

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65 and this in turn clarifies and strengthens theories of relationships among variables (Agresti & Finlay, 1997). Figure 4-1 proposes a model with two dependent variables: attitude toward the brand; and purchase intention. The present study does not assume that the four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs have a direct effect on purchase intention. Rather, the present study suggested that attitude toward the brand would be a mediating variable for predicting purchase intention. Trust Brand attitude Control mutuality Purchase intention Commitment Satisfaction Product-related attribute beliefs Figure 4-1. Target path model Therefore, path analysis was performed to measure the causal relationships between each dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs, and purchase intention via brand attitude. A path coefficient is a standardized regression coefficient (beta) showing the direct effect of an independent variable on a dependent variable in the path model. Thus, when the model contains two or more causal variables, path coefficients are partial regression coefficients which measure the effect of one variable on

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66 another in the path model controlling for all other variables, using standardized data or a correlation matrix as input (Garson, 2003). For path analysis, as shown in Table 4-16 two multiple regression analyses were conducted to generate path coefficients. Table 4-16. Regressions to generate path coefficients Regression coefficients Dependent variables Independent variables Unstandardized a Standardized R 2 1. Brand attitude Trust -.144 (.147) -.120 .203** Control mutuality 8.531E-02 (.140) .082 Commitment -2.337E-02 (.120) -.027 Satisfaction .267 (.126)* .275 Product 7.297E-03 (.002)** .295 2. Purchase intention Trust -8.850E-03 (.202) -.005 .297** Control mutuality .200 (.193) .132 Commitment 9.690E-02 (.165) .077 Satisfaction -6.441E-02 (.175) -.046 Product 3.277E-03 (.003) .091 Brand attitude .620** .428 a The values in parentheses are standard errors. *p<.05; **p<.01. A total of two multiple regressions were conducted to generate estimates of direct effects. The first regression model included the dimensions of OPRs and product-related attributes beliefs as independent variables and brand attitude as the dependent variable. Here brand attitude was predicted to improve by .275 standard deviations given a change in satisfaction of one standard deviation, all other variables held constant. Similarly, brand attitude was expected to improve by .295 standard deviations if product-related attribute beliefs increased by one standard deviation, and controlling for other independent variables included in the model.

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67 The second regression analysis was performed with the dimensions of OPRs, product-related attribute beliefs, and attitude toward the brand as independent variables and purchase intention as a dependent variable. The standardized path coefficient for the direct effect of brand attitude on purchase intention was .428. This means that purchase intention could improve by .428 standard deviations given a change in brand attitude of one standard deviation. Figure 4-2 shows the path diagram of relationships and coefficients between the independent and dependent variables. Trust -.005 -.120 Control mutuality .132 .077 .082 Commitment Purchase intention Brand attitude .428** -.027 .275* -.046 Satisfaction .295** .091 Product-related attribute beliefs Figure 4-2. Path diagram of relationships between independent and dependent variables Figure 4-2 practically supports the suggested target model. The satisfaction dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs were significantly related to brand attitude. Also, brand attitude was significantly related to purchase intention. In addition, all direct relationships between the independent variables (OPRs and product

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68 related attributes beliefs) and purchase intention as a dependent variable were proven to be statistically insignificant. Table 4-17 summarizes the direct, indirect, and total causal effects of independent variables on the dependent variables. Only three paths, all direct, are statistically significant: from satisfaction to attitude toward the brand (.275), from product-related attribute beliefs to brand attitude (.295), and from brand attitude to purchase intention (.428). Table 4-17. Summary of standardized effects of the path model Dependent variables Independent variable Brand attitude (Ab) Purchase intention (PI) Trust Direct effect -.120 -.005 Indirect effect via Brand attitude -------.051 Total effect -.120 -.056 Control mutuality Direct effect .082 .132 Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------.035 Total effect .082 .167 Commitment Direct effect -.027 .077 Indirect effect via Brand attitude -------.012 Total effect -.027 .065 Satisfaction Direct effect .275* -.046 Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------.118 Total effect .275* .072 Product-related attributes beliefs Direct effect .295** .091 Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------.126 Total effect .295** .217 Brand attitude Direct effect ------.428** Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------------Total effect ------.428** Therefore, as shown in Figure 4-3 below, the final model proposed in the present study has two independent variables, satisfaction and product-related attribute beliefs.

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69 Purchase intention Brand attitude Product-related attribute beliefs Satisfaction Figure 4-3. The final parsimonious model Based upon path analysis results, the present study eliminated insignificant paths from the diagram and again performed the appropriate analyses to re-estimate the path coefficients (see Figure 4-3). In order to confirm the final parsimonious model, another two multiple regressions were performed to generate estimates of direct effects. The first analysis used satisfaction and product-related attribute beliefs as independent variables and brand attitude as the dependent variable. Table 4-18 indicates that brand attitude was predicted to improve by .232 standard deviations for every one standard deviation change in the level of satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs being held constant. Also, brand attitude was expected to improve by .301 standard deviations given a change in product-related attribute beliefs of one standard deviation, and controlling for satisfaction. Table 4-18. Regressions to generate path coefficients Regression coefficients Dependent variables Independent variables Unstandardized a Standardized R 2 1. Brand attitude Satisfaction .229 (.076)* .232 .207** Product 7.622E-03 (.002)** .301 2. Purchase intention Satisfaction .132 (.106) .094 .290** Product 4.309E-03 (.003) .003 Brand attitude .612 (.105)** .105 a The values in parentheses are standard errors. *p<.05; **p<.01.

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70 The second regression analysis contained satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs, and brand attitude as independent variables and purchase intention as dependent variable. The standardized path coefficient for the direct effect of brand attitude upon purchase intention was .105. Figure 4-4 shows the path diagram of relationships between satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention. This parsimonious model with three paths yields significant path coefficients. .003 Purchase intention Brand attitude Product-related attribute beliefs Satisfaction .105** .232* .301** .094 Figure 4-4. Path diagram of relationships among satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention This parsimonious model suggests that relational satisfaction is a critical factor for predicting attitude toward the brand. In other words, publics are expected to be positive toward the brand offered by an organization when they feel satisfaction with that organization. Also, this parsimonious model confirms that attitude toward the brand is influenced by the total set of beliefs about salient attributes of a product. Finally, this model verified the causal relationship of attitudinal-behavioral patterns proven by much research in advertising.

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CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The present study represents an innovative empirical examination of the effects of organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude and purchase intention via brand attitude. As public relations scholars have emphasized, demonstrating the value of OPRs is of great significance given the importance of building a successful relationship between an organization and its publics (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999; Ledingham & Bruning, 1998; Lindenmann, 1999; Huang, 2001). In todays highly competitive marketplace, branding is considered a crucial tool to attract and keep customers by promoting value, image, prestige, or lifestyle. Marken (2001) stressed the importance of branding as an indicator of how customers feel about an organization, the relationship with it, and the organizations products. A. Ries and L. Ries (2002) suggested that public relations can create new brands through publicity and the resulting word of mouth. However, no previous research has examined the link between organization-public relationships and branding from a public relations perspective. As such, the main objective of the present study was to explore whether attitude toward the brand can be explained by organization-public relationships compared to product-related attribute beliefs. Also, the present study tested whether OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs can affect purchase intention via brand attitude. In addition, the present study verified for causal relations between attitude toward the brand 71

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72 and purchase intention. As a theoretical framework, the relationship theory and the expectancy-value model were used. One important finding of the present study is the empirical validation of the relationship between OPRs and attitude toward the brand. That is, the customers perception of their relationship with a company can greatly influence his or her attitude toward the brand offered by that company. Even when customers are unfamiliar with specific attributes of a product, they are likely to form an attitude toward that brand based upon their relationships with the company producing the brand. In particular, our study found that of four dimensions of OPRs, the perception of satisfaction with the company had a significant impact on attitude toward the brand. In addition, the present study verified the effect of product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand, testing Fishbein and Ajzens (1975) theory that an individuals attitude toward an object is based on his or her beliefs about the objects attributes and his or her evaluation of those attributes. Even though the present study adopted the relative importance component instead of Fishbein and Ajzens (1975) evaluative component of the expectancy-valued model, the sum of beliefs of salient attributes ultimately determined the attitude. Moreover, the finding that the importance component worked in terms of its predictive power is consistent with Galloway and Meeks (1981) research. Galloway and Meeks (1981) noted that the inclination to use a particular medium is a function of the strength of expectancy associated with gratifications, combined with use and the value or attractiveness of the gratification. In Galloway and Meeks (1981) research, expectancy (E) was operationalized as the expectations of possible outcomes (gratifications) from viewing a certain television program. Expectation value (V) was measured as the

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73 perceived importance of having certain gratifications (Exposure=Expectancy*Value). Galloway and Meek (1981) found strong relationships between expectancy (E)*value (V) and television exposure levels. Therefore, the importance component instead of the evaluative component appeared to be a valuable factor for predicting attitude toward the brand. The present study also showed the different degrees of explanatory power of two groups of independent variables. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted on the four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs. The result revealed that product-related attributes beliefs better predicted attitude toward the brand than the set of OPR dimensions. As expected, the present study confirmed that attitude toward the brand has a direct impact on purchase intention. Finally, this study measured the relationships between each dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs, and purchase intention via brand attitude using path analysis, and found that the satisfaction dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs predicted attitude toward the brand. Also, attitude toward the brand proved to be a significant predictor of purchase intention. More detailed interpretations regarding each finding are discussed in the following overview of research questions and hypotheses of the present study. Overview of the Research Questions and Hypotheses In this section, each of the two research questions and two research hypotheses is evaluated based on the results of the survey. RQ1: How are the four dimensions of organization-public relationshipstrust, control mutuality, satisfaction, and commitmentrelated to attitude toward the brand?

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74 The first research question investigated the relation between four dimensions of organization-public relationships (OPRs) and attitude toward the brand. To answer the question, Pearsons correlation and multiple regression analysis were performed. Pearsons correlation coefficients showed that all dimensions of OPRs and attitude toward the brand are highly correlated with each other. In order to test the significance of individual dimensions of OPRs as predictors of brand attitude, multiple regression analysis was performed. The results showed that in terms of a total model fit (F-test), OPRs were significantly related to attitude toward the brand. However, of all four dimensions of OPRs, only satisfaction was a significant predictor of attitude toward the brand. One statistical explanation of the results is that the four dimensions of OPRs are closely related with one another, and therefore one single dimension (except for satisfaction) could not have a significant effect on a dependent variable. This explanation is supported by the fact that the four dimensions were highly correlated with one another in terms of Pearson correlations, but the partial correlations between trust, control mutuality, and commitment, and attitude toward the brand changed significantly except for satisfaction. The result implies that satisfaction is the one dimension of OPRs that needs to be emphasized. Indeed, relational satisfaction has long been acknowledged as an important aspect of the relationship quality (Ferguson, 1984; Millar & Rogers, 1976; Stafford & Canary, 1991). According to Ferguson (1984), the degree to which both the organization and the public are satisfied with their relationship is a significant indicator of the quality of the relationship.

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75 In addition, from a social exchange perspective, Stafford and Canary (1991) stated that ones satisfaction with the relationship increases as one perceives the partner as working effectively toward the maintenance of that relationship. Bruning and Ledingham (1998) argued that the organization-public relationship is closely related to consumer satisfaction, and the level of satisfaction is influenced by the relationship quality. Even though they viewed relational satisfaction as the outcome of the organization-public relationship, not as a dimension of it, but as a crucial attribute of the quality of a relationship. In conclusion, the results to research question 1 showed that (1) the general effects of OPRs on attitude toward the brand were significant, and (2) due to multicollinearity among the four dimensions of OPRs, only satisfaction significantly predicted attitude toward the brand. Based on these findings, it can be suggested that (1) the scales used to measure OPRs need to be refined to reflect the theoretical differences between the four dimensions, or (2) satisfaction be separated from the other dimensions of OPRs and used as the overall evaluation of OPRs. H1: Product-related attribute beliefs are related to attitude toward the brand. Hypothesis 1 predicted that attitude toward the brand would be affected by product-related attribute beliefs. According to Keller (1998), product-related attributes is one of the brand associations. As expected, there were significant causal relations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand. Because the five product-related attribute beliefs were highly correlated, the present study used the overall product-related attribute beliefs as an independent variable. Summing up all of the product-related attribute belief was consistent with the expectancy-valued model, which posits that a persons attitude toward an object can be predicted by multiplying the

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76 evaluation of object attributes by beliefs about the object, and then summing all of the attribute beliefs to obtain a total set of beliefs (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). A regression analysis tested whether product-related attribute beliefs had significantly positive effects on attitude toward the brand, as concluded in previous studies. Although the present study adopted a relative importance component instead of the evaluative component of the expectancy-value model, the sum of beliefs of salient attributes successfully predicted attitudes. Thus, the present study suggests that an importance component can have its explanatory power of attitudes and might improve prediction of attitudes, which was consistent with Galloway and Meeks (1981) research. The product used in the present study was a laptop computer, which called for functional attributes and benefits, respondents beliefs about product-related attributes played a significant role in predicting attitude toward the brand. As Keller (1998) noted, the consumers perception of differences between brands are closely related to attributes or benefits of the product itself. However, when there is little real functional difference between competing products, the critical determinant of brand attitude will depend upon other aspects of the brands identity (Meenaghan, 1995). For example, the attitude toward a soft drink brand is probably based not as much on product-related attributes or benefits, but on images associated with the product due to its brand name. Thus, the differentiation of competing soft drink products is based on the symbols, images, and feelings associated with the brand name rather than the attributes of products themselves. In addition, the notion of product meanings are reflected by the construct of product involvement which has been described as one of the most important variables in consumer research (Antil, 1984, p. 203). Involvement has been viewed in terms of

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77 product meaning and consumer-product relationships (Martin, 1998). According to Martin (1998), involvement is the degree of psychological identification and affective, emotional ties the consumer has with a stimulus or stimuli being the product category or specific brand. Therefore, the characteristics of the products/brands themselves or their usage contexts may play a role stimulating consumers involvement. In conclusion, the present study confirmed previous studies that demonstrated a relationship between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand. The finding makes intuitive sense particularly in the present study, because the product chosen for research, a laptop computer, requires customers to consider functional attributes in their purchasing decisions. However, to test for the proposed models reliability, future research should apply the model to different product categories with different types of attributes. RQ2: Are there any significant differences between the impact of organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand? Our study investigated the association between OPRs and attitude toward the brand in three stages. In the first stage, the researcher examined the relationship between OPRs and attitude toward the brand excluding the effects of product-related attribute beliefs. In the second stage, the association between OPRs and attitude toward the brand was measured including product-related attribute beliefs in the model. Finally, the third stage, the relative explanatory power of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand were compared. Research question 1 analyzed the first stage, namely the effect of OPRs on attitude toward the brand excluding the effects of product-related attribute beliefs. The results showed that OPRs were generally significant in predicting attitude toward the

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78 brand. In turn, research question 2 examined the other two possible levels: (1) the effects of OPRs on attitude toward the brand including the effects of product-related attribute beliefs, and (2) the relative explanatory power of OPRs on attitude toward the brand compared to the explanatory power of product-related attribute beliefs. First, a multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with the dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs was performed. The results demonstrated that customers who felt satisfied with their relationship with a company and held strong product-related attribute beliefs, had an overall positive attitude toward the brand. Even considering the competing effects of product-related attribute beliefs, the effect of OPRs was found to be significant. However, due to the multicollinearity of independent variables, only one dimension of OPRs, satisfaction, was statistically significant. A multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with all five independent variables (four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs) was, however, inadequate in order to examine the different predictive powers of dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand. As a result, two hierarchical regressions analyses were conducted to compare the relative importance of the four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude. The aim of these hierarchical regression analyses was to assess whether or not OPRs affected brand attitude, and whether the expectancy-value model could be applied to the relationship between product-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude. The results of those two regressions suggest that product-related attribute beliefs could better explain attitude toward the brand than the dimensions of OPRs. Keller (1998) defined that product-related attributes as the ingredients necessary for performing

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79 the product or service function sought by consumers (p. 93). Thus, it appears that customers are likely to evaluate the brand based on the products physical composition and functional attributes, which in turn determine the level of product performance. Considering that the present study used as product a laptop computer which has functional-based attributes, the participants overall evaluation of the brand may be less influenced by their relationships with Sony, but rather by their product-related attribute beliefs. Research suggests that consumers can evaluate brands differently depending on the type of product analyzed. For example, it is not easy to differentiate a brand of gasoline from another brand of the same product. However, if a certain oil company supports environmental causes, consumers are likely to hold positive attitudes toward that brand due to corporate social responsibility, rather than product-related attributes. In a similar example, the ice cream maker Ben & Jerry is known as much for sharing its wealth with the poor as for its use of natural ingredients to produce incredibly rich ice cream (Smith, 1994, p.42). As a result, Ben & Jerrys ice cream has good brand value based on the companys social responsibility, rather than product-related attributes. These examples imply that attitude toward the brand is influenced by the different product types, and how these products are associated with corporate behaviors. Summarizing, hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that OPRs had less explanatory power on attitude toward brand than product-related attribute beliefs. This result, however, is not to say that OPRs were not useful in explaining attitude toward the brand. The effect of OPRs on attitude toward the brand proved to be statistically significant in both regression models, first excluding and then including the effect of product-related attributes. The results to research question 2 only showed that OPRs are

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80 relatively less powerful than product-related attribute beliefs in predicting attitude toward the brand. Though as mentioned before, the only product used in the present study was a laptop computer. Since laptop computers have highly explicit product-related attributes based on functional features, there is no guarantee that the results of the present study can be extended to other products categories with different product-related attributes. H2: Attitude toward the brand is positively related to purchase intention. In the present study, attitude toward the brand had a significant direct effect on purchase intention. This result is consistent with previous advertising research, as well as with the findings of the Dual Mediation Hypothesis (Brown & Stayman, 1992; MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986) that looked at attitudinal-behavioral patterns and relationships in advertising. The present study reinforced that a key role of consumer attitudes is to predict purchase behavior. Considering that attitudes are relatively stable predispositions to behavior, an individuals attitude toward the brand plays an important role in predicting his or her intention to purchase a product. The present study also hypothesized that attitude toward the brand could be a mediating variable for predicting purchase intention. Using path analysis, the researcher examined the effects that each of the four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs (as independent variables) had on purchase intention via brand attitude. As expected, the analysis showed that all direct (not mediated by brand attitude) relationships between the five independent variables and purchase intention were statistically insignificant.

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81 Path analysis confirmed three paths: satisfaction had a direct effect on attitude toward the brand, product-related attribute beliefs also had a direct impact on attitude toward the brand, and attitude toward the brand had a direct effect on purchase intention. Consistent with the results of previous regression analyses, only one dimension of OPRs, satisfaction, was significantly related to attitude toward the brand. Consequently, the present study proposed a parsimonious model of the relationships between satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention as the final model. This parsimonious model posited that satisfaction and product-related attribute beliefs were determinants of brand attitude, which in turn influenced purchase intention. In conclusion, in the present study the researcher demonstrated that (1) OPRs were significantly related to attitude toward brand, (2) product-related attribute beliefs were also significantly related to attitude toward the brand, and (3) attitude toward the brand was a strong mediator between independent variables (four OPR dimensions and product-related attribute beliefs) and purchase intention. Although the results were generally consistent with initial expectations, some discrepancies were found. First, conducting regression models, only the satisfaction dimension of OPRs was significantly related to attitude toward the brand. On the contrary, simple correlation coefficients indicated that all four OPR dimensions were significantly related to attitude toward the brand. This difference in findings was due to multicollinearity among the dimensions of OPRs. In order to overcome this problem in future research, the present study proposes two possible solutions. One solution is that items measuring the dimensions of OPRs need to be refined, so that the convergent validity of each dimension can be secured. The second proposition is that satisfaction be separated from the other dimensions of OPRs because the effect of satisfaction by far

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82 outweighed the effects of the other three dimensions. Furthermore, previous research demonstrated that satisfaction could function as a dependent variable rather than independent variable. Second, the explanatory power of OPRs was found to be less significant than that of product-related attribute beliefs in predicting attitude toward the brand. The present study used only one product category, a laptop computer, which has functional-based attributes. However, consumers evaluation of brands can differ depending upon the type of product categories. For example, if a product category without explicit product-related attributes is tested, the predictive effect of OPRs may prove stronger. Despite these unexpected results, the present study generally supports the proposition that OPRs can function as an important predictor of attitude toward the brand. Two regression analyses that first excluded competing effects of product-related attribute beliefs, and then included such, both showed that OPRs were significantly related to attitude toward the brand. Finally, considering the demonstrated direct relationship between attitude toward the brand and purchase intention, the present study concludes that OPRs can indirectly influence purchase intension.

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CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION The ways in which public relations contributes to organizational goals have been a crucial topic in public relations research. Recently, examination of the relationship that exists between an organization and its key publics has emerged as a significant paradigm for public relations scholarship and practice (Bruning & Ledingham, 1999). According to Ehling (1992), the relationship management perspective shifts the public relations practice away from the manipulation of public opinion toward building, nurturing, and maintaining organization-public relationships. Scholars have emphasized that the existence of positive relationships between an organization and its publics is one of the major contributions of public relations to organizational effectiveness (Dozier, L. A. Grunig, & J. E. Grunig, 1995; Huang, 2001). As markets change rapidly and products lives shorten, the one element that gives customers confidence is brand value. By using a particular brand, consumers can strengthen a positive image. Brands can also reduce the risk consumers face when buying something that they know little about (Montgomery & Wernerfelt, 1992). An organizations strong brand equity represents its intangible assets that bring about customer loyalty and ultimately contribute to the organizations bottom line. However, despite brands great importance, little research has investigated brand management concepts in the context of public relations. To overcome such a gap, we explored empirically the effects of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via brand 83

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84 attitude. Four dimensions of organization-public relationships were used in the present study, but only the dimension of satisfaction successfully predicted attitude toward the brand. Using the expectancy-value model as a theoretical framework, the present study also examined the causal link between product-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude. The present study found different degrees of explanatory power of organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs in predicting attitudes toward the brand. The analysis indicated that product-related attribute beliefs had better predictive power toward brand attitude than the dimensions of organization-public relationships. As proven in other fields of communication, the causal relationship between attitude toward the brand as an attitudinal aspect and purchase intention as a behavioral outcome was supported in this public relations context. Our study concluded by proposing a parsimonious model for explaining causal relationships among variables using path analysis. The analysis yielded three paths. Brand attitude was strongly explained by both the perceptions of satisfaction and product-related attribute beliefs, which implies that brand attitude is a combination of emotional bond with a company and functional benefits derived from product attributes. Also, in the present study, the direct relationship between brand attitude and purchase intention was statistically significant. Consistent with other studies that indicated brand attitude as a mediating variable, the statistical effects of OPR dimensions and product-related attribute beliefs on purchase intention, mediated by brand attitude, were significant.

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85 Implications Theoretical Implications From a theoretical perspective, the present study is an exploratory attempt to apply the effects of organization-public relationships to attitude toward the brand. A. Ries and L. Ries (2002) stressed that public relations can and should play a powerful marketing role, particularly in building and maintaining brands. As Olins (2000) noted, the value of brands can depend on the quality of relationships that publics have with an organization. With this in mind, the present study examined the causal effect of the dimensions of organization-public relationships on brand attitude. The research suggests that satisfaction as a dimension of OPRs can play a positive role in predicting attitude toward the brand. Given the limited studies available in attitudinal and behavioral research in public relations, the present study may help explain how customers association with an organization affects their attitude toward the organizations brands. Most of the previous empirical studies on corporate associations focused on developing measures of corporate image, rather than on developing theoretical links between perceptions of relationships with a company and other outcome variables such as customers attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. As Brown and Dacin (1997) noted, when a customer identifies a product with a company, there is a chance that the overall assessment of that company will affect the evaluation of the product. Hence, our study may be a starting point for public relations scholars to analyze the effects of perceptions of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand. In addition, using the expectancy-value model, the present study supports the assumption that product-related attribute beliefs can predict attitude toward the brand. The research applied Fishbein and Ajzens (1975) proposition, attitudes derive from

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86 beliefs about attitude objects to product-related attributes, in order to compare the effect of organization-public relationships on brand attitude. Although the present study adopted an importance component instead of the evaluative component of the expectancy-value model, the sum of product-related attribute beliefs successfully affected attitudes. Therefore, the use of an importance component as suggested by Galloway and Meek (1981) was fully justified. The present study indicated that product-related attributes could better explain attitude toward the brand than OPRs. However, this result may be due to the type of product used in the present study, a laptop computer. In general, product attributes and benefits to the user are important for the overall brand image or attitude. However, when products have little functional advantage over similar competing products, or when customers associate the product with the companys social behaviors, brand attitude can be the result of non-product-related attributes, particularly OPRs. Therefore, it is necessary to explore consumer-product relationships separately for different product types. Finally, the present study analyzed the causal relationship of attitudinal-behavioral patterns as suggested by the Dual Mediation Hypothesis and other research (Brown & Stayman, 1992; MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986). Consistent with earlier findings of causal sequence of attitudes leading to purchase intention, the present study proves that attitude toward the brand has a significant effect on purchase intention. Another interesting finding is that all the direct associations between independent variables (OPR dimensions and product-related attribute beliefs) and purchase intention were not significant when including attitude toward the brand in the model as mediating variable. That indicates that all the direct paths between independent variables and

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87 purchase intention were mediated by attitude toward the brand. Even though there might exist more mediating variables, it is certain that attitude toward the brand is a strong mediator between OPRs and purchase intention. Practical Implications From the standpoint of business practice, the main contribution of the present study is to provide empirical evidence that positive relations between an organization and its publics can strongly influence brand attitude. As Pierach (2002) argued, public relations should explain its role to get its place in branding, the present study suggests the important role of organization-public relationships in branding process. The present study found that customers satisfied with the company were likely to hold favorable attitudes toward a brand offered by the company. The results also suggest that while product-related attributes are usually central to the brand attitude, consumers evaluations of the brand can sometimes be explained better by non-product-related attributes such as perceptions of OPRs or corporate social behaviors. Marketers recognize that products carry multiple meanings (Martin, 1998), the perception of which can vary depending upon individuals (Friedmann, 1986; Levy, 1963), situations (Bransford & McCarrell, 1974; Kleine & Kernan, 1991; Olson, 1986), and time periods (Blumer, 1969; Hirschman, 1986). For example, when people consider buying an automobile, some put a high value on functional attributes, whereas others are interested in the brands reputation and so forth. However, product-related attributes that have a relational nature such as good warranty and customer service are regarded as valuable attributes, regardless of individuals different evaluations of the product. The present study implies that customers consider the association with a company even when they evaluate product-related attribute benefits. Given this, companies should aim not

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88 only to differentiate themselves from competition in terms of technical and functional attributes, but also to develop customer service associated with the companys performance or goodwill. The present study also contributes to the practice of public relations, especially from a relationship management perspective. Relationship management provides a basis for evaluating the contribution of public relations to organizational goals. The present study suggests that good quality of relationships between an organization and its publics can contribute to the formation of intangible assets such as strong brand equity and customer loyalty. The benefits of a successful relationship are mutual: consumers become knowledgeable of the brand and develop certain expectations, while in turn the company gains consumers loyal toward itself and its brands. Therefore, it is suggested that todays public relations practitioners consider the management of relationships as a necessary part of their skills. Finally, the results of the present study indicate that one way to increase the probability of obtaining a favorable attitude toward the brand is by making customers feel satisfied with the brands company. Bhattacharya and Sen (2003) noted that the strongest consumer-company relationships are formed when consumers identify with the companies that help them satisfy one or more key self-definitional needs. Recently, scholars of customer relationship management (CRM) have analyzed and proposed ways for companies to build deeper, more committed relationships with customers (Bhattacharya & Sen, 2003). Rust, Zeithaml, and Lemon (2000) distinguished three drivers of customer equity which is the aim of CRM: value equity, brand equity, and relationship equity. Satisfaction can be an excellent measure of a companys brand value, which ultimately can produce high brand equity and relationship equity.

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89 Limitations There are several limitations in the present study. A first limitation is related to the sample used to collect data. The respondents in the present study were chosen conveniently using an intercept sampling method, and all were students at the University of Florida. Although a university intercept survey is likely to generate a relatively diverse sample of students, the results of the present study cannot be generalized beyond this specific population. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of respondents ranged in age from 18 to 25, skewing the sample on this demographic variable. Second, the researcher discovered a multicollinearity problem among the four dimensions of OPRs. Multicollinearity refers to strong correlations between independent variables (Hair et al, 1998), which considerably reduces the predictive power of individual independent variable. Indeed, of all four OPR dimensions used in the present study, only the dimension of satisfaction proved to be a significant predictor of brand attitude. Third, the present study focused on consumer attitude toward the brand and purchase intention based on perceptions of organization-public relationships. However, other company publics such as employees, community members, investors etc. could also be analyzed, to test whether the same relationships hold true. Fourth, the present study tested only one organization (Sony), one product category (laptop computer), and one brand (VAIO). A comparison between brands based on relationships with different organizations would make the results much stronger. Fifth, the present study did not consider the length of relationship between customers and an organization. Relationships take years to develop, and generally they

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90 strengthen over time. However, the present study measured relationships at one time regardless of consumers relationship history with the company. It is likely that the relative importance of trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction in predicting brand attitude and purchase intention varies according to the length of the relationship. It could be assumed that the longer a relationship exists, the stronger the relative impact of the dimensions of OPRs on brand attitude and purchase intention. Finally, the sample included people who were very familiar and familiar with Sony VAIO computers, which means that familiarity with the brand was not controlled for. Even though no respondent in the final sample owned a Sony VAIO computer, attitude toward the brand might be influenced by familiarity with Sony VAIO computers. If so, the relationships between OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs; and brand attitude might have been different controlling for brand familiarity. Suggestions for Future Research This type of study should be replicated with other organizations and brands or with advanced analysis techniques, in order to generalize the above conclusions. To increase the applicability of the suggested model, future research should consider diverse organizations, product categories, and brands. Iacobucci and Ostrom (1996) suggested that consumers view their relationships with large Fortune 500 companies as distant and purely transactional, while relationships with smaller firms are seen as closer and more supportive. Therefore, it appears important to examine different perceptions of relationships with different types of organizations, such as profit, nonprofit, small, large, etc. Public relations literature suggests the importance of relationships, but the concept of relationship has yet to be agreed upon by scholars. Without a clear definition

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91 of the concept, researchers cannot derive valid and reliable measures that are useful for positing and testing public relations theory (Broom, Casey, & Ritchey, 2000). Thus, future research should work toward finding a common definition for relationships in public relations. Also, because much of the current knowledge about relationships in public relations comes from interpersonal communication literature, future research should test whether relationships based on interpersonal communication can be extended to organizations. The present study focused on cognitive-based attitude using Fishbein and Ajzens (1975) expectancy-value model for measuring attitude toward the brand. Considering that affect is clearly one component of attitude and a powerful predictor of intentions, future research must examine both cognitive-based attitudes and affective-based attitudes in order to measure attitude toward the brand. Morris, Woo, Geason, & Kim (2002) found that affective attitude as measured by emotional response played a significant role in predicting brand attitude and intention. As mentioned in the discussion section of the present study, as products/brands mean different things to different people, consumers can have different attitudes toward the products/brands they purchase. Since the present study used a functional-based product, laptop computer, consumers are more likely to base their overall attitude upon physical attributes and benefits of the computer, and less upon their evaluation of relationships with the company. Therefore, to explore different types of consumer-product relationships, future researchers could replicate the present study using a variety of brands and product categories with different levels of consumer involvement. In addition to attitude toward the brand, attitude toward the organization can be added to examine its interactions with organization-public relationships. As an outcome

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92 variable of organization-public relationships, attitude toward the organization can explain the effect of OPRs. Kim (2003) found that OPRs can affect attitude toward the brand through attitude toward the organization. Future researchers might want to investigate whether attitude toward the organization can be another mediating variable between OPRs and purchase intention. The present study examined only the four most important dimensions of Hon and J. E. Grunigs (1999) relationship measurement scale. Future researchers need to move forward and suggest new measurement models by combining other variables that might affect publics attitudes and behaviors. Since the present study found a multicollinearity problem among the four dimensions of OPRs that was not addressed in previous research, the scales of relationship measurement should be refined more robustly. Also, it would be fruitful to expand the sample away from a student population, and to conduct longitudinal or cross-cultural research to further test the final path model suggested in the present study. The multi-attribute attitude model derived from Fishbein and Ajzens (1975) expectancy-value model, needs further investigation. More research is needed to validate the replacement of the evaluative component of the Fishbein model with the relative importance component of attributes. Future research should attempt to clarify the relationship between the evaluative component and the relative importance component in order to legitimize their use in the process of predicting attitudes. Finally, future researchers might want to investigate organization-public relationships as both independent and dependent variables, as well as mediating variables in building the theory of organization-public relationships. Huang (1999) demonstrated that relationships were key mediating variables of the effect of an organizations public

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93 relations strategies on solving conflicts between the organization and its publics. Future research dealing with antecedents of organization-public relationships and outcomes would contribute to relationship theory building.

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APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT FORM My name is Jeesun Kim, a masters student at the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. This survey is supervised by Dr. Sylvia Chan-Olmsted at the Department of Telecommunication in the College of Journalism and Communications. The purpose of this survey is to assess the impact of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. I would like you to participate in a survey that will help me understand the effect of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. You must be 18 years old or older to participate in this study. There are no right or wrong answers in describing your perception and attitude. This survey will take approximately 5 to 10 minutes. On the following pages, you will be asked to answer several questions as part of a questionnaire. Please read each question carefully and respond to the questions as thoughtfully and honestly as you can. All of your answers and your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law. You do not have to answer any question you do not want to. You may withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. There is no anticipated risk or direct benefit to the participants in this study. If you have any question, Please contact Jeesun Kim at (352) 846-5001 or jsun1225@ufl.edu, or the supervisor, Dr. Sylvia Chan-Olmsted at (352) 392-0954 or chanolmsted@jou.ufl.edu. Also, if you have questions or concerns about the research participants rights, you can contact the UF Institutional Review Board at (352) 392-0433. The address is PO Box 112250, the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250. I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the procedure, and I have received a copy of this description. Participants Signature Principal Investigators Signature Date 94

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95 APPENDIX B SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE Thank you for taking the time to answer the questions in this survey. I am studying peoples perceptions of and interactions with Sony. Please circle the number that best describes your thoughts or feelings. Your answers will be used only for statistical purposes and will remain strictly confidential to the extent provided by law. Please read the instructions and questions carefully. Your participation is voluntary, and you may stop at any time. Section 1. Q1-1. How familiar are you with the company Sony? Not familiar at all [ ] Somewhat familiar [ ] Familiar [ ] Very familiar [ ] Q1-2. How familiar are you with the Sonys products in general? Not familiar at all [ ] Somewhat familiar [ ] Familiar [ ] Very familiar [ ] Q1-3. Have you ever purchased Sony products before? Yes [ ] No [ ] Q1-4. Do you already own a desktop or laptop computer? No [ ] Yes [ ] Is it a Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computer? No [ ] Yes [ ] Q1-5. How familiar are you with Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers? Not familiar at all [ ] Somewhat familiar [ ] Familiar [ ] Very familiar [ ]

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96 Section 2. Please circle the number that you believe best indicates your agreement with each item and how it describes the relationship you have with Sony. When answering each question, think about your relationship with Sony as a customer. If you strongly disagree with the provided statement, please circle in the box. If you strongly agree with the provided statement, please circle in the box. Q2-1. When I think about my relationship with Sony Strongly Strongly Disagree ------------------Agree 1) Sony treats me fairly and justly as a customer. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2) Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know they will be concerned about me as a customer. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3) Sony can be relied on to keep its promises to me as a customer. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4) I believe that Sony takes my opinions into account as a customer when making decisions. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5) I feel very confident about Sonys skills. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6) Sony has the ability to accomplish what it says it will do. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 7) Sony and I pay attention to what each other communicate. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8) Sony believes my opinions as a customer are legitimate. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9) In dealing with customers like me, Sony does not have a tendency to throw its weight around. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10) Sony really listens to what I have to say as a customer. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 11) I feel that Sony is trying to maintain a long-term commitment with me as a customer. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 12) Sony wants to maintain a relationship with me as a customer. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 13) There is a long-term bond between Sony and me as a customer. 2 3 4 5 6 7 14) Compared to other companies, I value my relationship with Sony more. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 15) I am happy with Sony. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 16) Both Sony and I benefit from our relationship. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 17) I am happy with my interactions with Sony. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 18) Generally speaking, I am pleased with the relationship Sony has established with me. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1

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97 Section 3. Q3-1. Assume that you are going to buy a laptop computer, how important would each of the following attributes be to you? (Please circle one number between 1 and 7 for EACH of the five answers) Attributes Extremely Extremely Unimportant--------------------------Important 1) Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2) Better customer service (not including technical service) is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3) Nicer looking design/appearance is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4) Better quality of components is (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5) More portable is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Q3-2. Assume that you are going to purchase a Sony VAIO laptop computer in the next 6 months. Compared to other laptop computers, how likely do you believe you will find the following attributes in a Sony VAIO laptop computer? (Please circle one number between 1 and 7 for EACH of the five answers) Attributes Extremely Extremely Unimportant---------------------------Important 1) Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2) Better customer service (not including technical service) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3) Nicer looking design/appearance 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4) Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5) More portable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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98 Section 4. Q4-1. What is your attitude toward the Sony VAIO laptop computers? (Please circle one number between 1 and 7 for EACH of the four answers) 1) Unfavorable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Favorable 2) Bad 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Good 3) Dislike 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Like 4) Negative 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Positive Section 5. Q5-1. What is the probability that you will buy a Sony VAIO laptop computer? (Please circle one number between 1 and 7 for EACH of the three answers) 1) Unlikely 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Likely 2) Impossible 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Possible 3) Improbable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Probable Section 6. Demographics Q6-1. Gender Male [ ] Female [ ] Q6-2. Age _______ Q6-3. What is your current level of education? [ ] Freshman [ ] Sophomore [ ] Junior [ ] Senior or post-baccalaureate [ ] Graduate Student [ ] Other: _________________ (please specify) THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION!

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Jeesun Kim was born in Seoul, Korea, on December 25, 1978. She graduated with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications from Sogang University, one of the most prestigious colleges of mass communications in Korea. She started her distant journey to the United States in 2001 and completed her Master of Arts in Mass Communications with a specialty in public relations from the University of Florida in 2003. During her graduate study, she was interested in relationship theory in public relations and its application to branding. As a masters student, she presented papers at the Association for the Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) conference and the National Cable Telecommunication Association (NCTA) conference. She also participated in the 2003 Graduate and Professional Student Forum. After graduation, she plans to continue her public relations career in both the practical and academic fields of public relations in the United States. 110


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EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATION-PUBLIC RELATIONSHIPS
AND PRODUCT-RELATED ATTRIBUTE BELIEFS ON
BRAND ATTITUDE AND PURCHASE INTENTION:
USING RELATIONSHIP THEORY AND EXPECTANCY-VALUE MODEL















By


JEESUN KIM


A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS IN MASS COMMUNICATION

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2003


































Copyright 2003

by

Jeesun Kim





























For all that I have become and all that I have accomplished, I would like to dedicate this
thesis to my family. Without their support, both emotionally and financially, I would not
have made it to where I am today.















ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

First of all, I would like to thank my chair, Dr. Sylvia Chan-Olmsted for the time

and effort she spent reading my thesis and for all the quick and great feedback she

provided. I am sure that my thesis is better because of her endless energy and motivation

in research and because of her insightful input. I learned so much from her while

working on my thesis. I will never forget her help. Next, I wish to thank my committee

members, Dr. Linda Hon and Dr. Chang-Hoan Cho for their guidance, knowledge, and

encouragement in their areas of expertise.

I would also like to thank my fellow Koreans in the college for their help and

affection when I needed them. I do not even know where to begin in thanking my friend,

ByengHee Chang for his guidance and assistance from the idea development through the

completion of this study. I feel lucky to have my awesome friend, Jaemin Jung, who

always took care of me, shared problems with me, and encouraged me to pursue my

master's years successfully. I would like to thank Samsup Jo, Jooyoung Kim, Jaewon

Kang, Hongsik J. Cheon, Hyoungkoo Khang, Chongmoo Woo, and Joonsoo Lim for their

guidance and for helping me develop the idea. I also want to offer special thanks to

SeungEun Lee for her helpful suggestions and words of encouragement. I am grateful for

all of those stress-relieving conversations. I would also like to offer thanks to my friends

who started their master's programs with me: Seung-Hoon Han, Eyun-Jung Ki, Sungwoo

Kim, Hey-Rin Shim, Ho-Kyung Kim, and Sangsoo Park for sharing in my good and bad









times. My thanks also go out to Yoonserk Pyun, Jiyang Bae, and In-Myoung You for

their encouragement.

I also want to thank my friends from Sogang University in Korea: Min-Ah Lee,

Hye-Yoon Kim, Yejin Hong, Ji-Min Nam, Jung-Hyun Lee, In-Hye Park, Soo-Jung Kim,

Dong-Min Lee, Mi-Ran Kim, Jung-Eun Yoon, and Ah-Young Gong for their belief in my

potential and for their encouragement. I thank my friends from "S.E.L.F." in Korea, Ji-

Hee Yoon, Seo-Eun Park, Hye-Eun Choi, and Sung-Young Park, for their moral support.

I also thank my friend Kyung-Ha Oh, who is studying at Indiana University, for letting

me speak my mind and for sharing my dream of studying in a foreign country. I would

also like to thank my professor, SooBum Lee from Korea for his continuous support and

encouragement. I am forever grateful to have been mentored by him. Also, I would like

to thank my high school English teacher, Gwang-Han Song, who is studying at the

University of British Columbia, for his warm words of encouragement from my high

school years to now.

I also thank the friends I met in Gainesville, Allison Aiken, Michael Palenchar,

Bridget Book, Olaf Werder, Todd Holmes, Daphne Landers, Nancy Parish, Francis Kok,

Raghu Jeganathan, Greg Borchard, Laura Schmid, Daniela Dimitrova, Shayla Smith,

Amanda Holt, and Sean Maxfield, for their help and kindness. Jody Hedge in the

Graduate Division also provided me with all the resources I ever needed. Especially, I

wish to give my special thanks to Allison and Michael who showed their warm hearts to

me and offered me encouragement. Without their help, I would never have survived my

first semester here. I would like to thank Domino's Pizza in Gainesville for their

sponsorship of free pizza as compensation when I was conducting the survey.









Most of all, I would like to express special thanks to Ryan Brainard who has

offered me encouragement, support, kindness, and love from the beginning through the

completion of my thesis. I thank him for always being there for me and for always taking

the time to help me when I needed it. I never would have survived without him. I am

forever grateful. I also want to thank my dear friends, Andy Mikulski and Melissa Bello

for their friendship and encouragement. My appreciation also extends to my editor,

Cristina Popescu for helping to edit my thesis.

Finally, I would like to thank my parents, Bae-Han Kim and Young-Gun Kwak

for their love and support through all my life. I could never be where I am today without

them. Their encouragement, guidance, and patience are a refection of the achievements I

have made throughout my life. For everything they have done for me, I am truly

thankful. Also, I cannot thank my sister Young-Sun and my brother Sang-Yoon enough

for their encouragement and beliefs in my potential. I have dedicated this thesis to my

family. They are the most wonderful people in the world and I love them all very much.
















TABLE OF CONTENTS

page

A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iv

LIST OF TABLES ....................................................... ............ ....... ....... ix

LIST OF FIGURES ......... ......................... ...... ........ ............ xi

CHAPTER

1 IN TR OD U CTION ............................................... .. ......................... ..

R elation ship L literature ................................................ ............................ .............. 4
Relationship Management in Public Relations................. .......................... 4
Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs)...................................................... 5
T ru st ....................................................................................................... 1 3
C control m utuality ..................................... ............... ..... .... 14
C o m m itm e n t ........................................................................................... 1 5
Satisfaction ......................................................................................... ......16
Attitude and Brand Literature.......................................................... ........... 19
A ttitu d e ......................................................................................... 19
A attitude tow ard the B rand (A b)...................................................... .............. 20
Difference between a Brand and Product....................................................... 22
Product-Related Attribute Beliefs ................................................. .......... 23
Purchase Intention (PI) ................................................................................. 25

2 M E T H O D O L O G Y ............................................................................ ................... 28

P re te sts ...................................................................................... 3 0
Pretest 1 ............ .................... .......... ............... 31
P retest 2 ........................................ 3 3
Su rv ey ...................................................................................................... 36
Sam ple and Procedure .......................................................... .............. 36
M easu res ..................................................... 3 7
Independent V ariables ............................................................ .............. 39
D dependent V ariables .................... ................. ...................... .............. 43
Data Analysis............................. ........ ............... 45









3 F IN D IN G S .................................................................................. 4 7

O verview of the Statistical A nalysis............................................... ... ................. 47
Profile of the Sample ......................................................... .. 47
D descriptions of the V ariables ..................................................................................... 49
Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs)................................................. 50
Beliefs and Importance of Salient Attributes .............................................. 50
A attitude tow ard the B rand .............. ......................................................... 50
Purchase Intention ..................................... .......... .... .... .. ...... .... 51
Reliability Checks ........................................................................... .. 52
Research Questions and Hypotheses Testing................................. .................... 54
Test of R research Q question 1 ........................................ ................... ...... 54
Test of Hypothesis 1 .............. ........................................ .............. 56
T est of R research Q question 2 ........................................................................ ... 60
Test of H ypothesis 2 ............................................................. .. 63
P ath A n aly sis ............................................................................. 6 4

4 D ISCU SSION ...................................................................... .......... 71

5 C O N C L U SIO N ......... ......................................................................... ........ .. ..... .. 83

Im p location s .............. ........................................ 8 5
T heoretical Im plications ................................................................. .............. 85
Practical Im plications ........................................ ...... ..... ...... ........ .. 87
Lim stations .................. ................... ............ ............... ........ 89
Suggestions for Future Research ...................................................... ..... ....... .. 90

APPENDIX

A INFORM ED CON SEN T FORM .......................................... .......................... 94

B SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE ........................................................ ............. 95

L IST O F R EFE R E N C E S ............................................................................. ............. 99

B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH .............................................................. .....................110














viii
















LIST OF TABLES


Table pge

2-1 Frameworks for the organization-public relationship measurement ...................10

3-1 Salient attributes of Sony VAIO computers .................................. ............... 32

3-2 The means of familiarity with Sony, Sony products and Sony VAIO
com puters ..................................... ................................ ........... 35

3-3 Cronbach's alpha for four indicators of relationships with five organizations......37

3-4 Operationalization of variables ........................................................................ 39

3-5 Items measuring independent variables....................................... ..............43

3-6 Items measuring dependent variables ........................................ ............... 44

4-1 Demographic profile of the respondents.............................................. .......... 48

4-2 Responses indicating familiarity with Sony, Sony's products and Sony VAIO
c o m p u te rs ............................... ......... ...... .................. ................ 4 9

4-3 Descriptive statistics of each variable....................... ... ............................... 51

4-4 Cronbach's alpha of variables ......... ...... ......... ........................ 53

4-5 Correlations of the dimensions of OPRs and attitude toward the brand................ 55

4-6 Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with trust, control
mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction as independent variables.....................56

4-7 Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the
b ran d .............................................................................. 5 8

4-8 Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with each of the
product-related attribute beliefs ........... ....................................... ........ ....... 58

4-9 Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the
b ran d .............................................................................. 5 9









4-10 Regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with product-related attribute
b e lie fs ....................................................................... 6 0

4-11 Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with the dimensions of
OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs ......................................................61

4-12 Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to examine
the predictive pow er of O PR s ......... ................. ........................... ..... ......... 62

4-13 Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to examine
the predictive power of product-related attribute beliefs................................63

4-14 Correlation between attitude toward the brand and purchase intention ................63

4-15 Regression analysis of purchase intention with attitude toward the brand............64

4-16 Regressions to generate path coefficients .......................... ......................66

4-17 Summary of standardized effects of the path model ....................................68

4-18 Regressions to generate path coefficients......... .. ................. ................... ........ 69
















LIST OF FIGURES


Figure pge

2-1 Conceptual model of the relationships among OPRs, product-related
attribute beliefs, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention ....................27

4-1 Target path m odel .......................................... ............... .... ....... 65

4-2 Path diagram of relationships between independent and dependent variables......67

4-3 The final parsim onious m odel ........................................ .......................... 69

4-4 Path diagram of relationships among satisfaction, product-related attribute
beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention............................... ............70















Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Mass Communication

EFFECTS OF ORGANIZATION-PUBLIC RELATIONSHIPS
AND PRODUCT-RELATED ATTRIBUTE BELIEFS ON
BRAND ATTITUDE AND PURCHASE INTENTION:
USING RELATIONSHIP THEORY AND EXPECTANCY-VALUE MODEL

By

Jeesun Kim

August 2003
Chair: Sylvia Chan-Olmsted
Department: Public Relations

Considering the importance of relationship building as a new paradigm in the

field of public relations, it is significant to evaluate the value of public relations.

Successful relationships generally lead to outcomes that contribute to the organization's

goals. Because today's marketplace puts a high value on brand equity, it appears

important to investigate brand management concepts in the context of public relations.

As such, the present study added to the existing theory and literature on organization-

public relationships using attitudinal and behavioral approaches.

The purpose of the present study was to explore the effects of organization-

public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via brand

attitude; and the effects of product-related attributes on attitude toward the brand and

purchase intention via the brand attitude. The present study also examined the different

explanatory power of OPRs and product-related attributes on attitude toward the brand.









A survey was conducted with 178 students at the University of Florida. Results

of this survey showed that (1) organization-public relationships were significantly related

to attitude toward the brand, (2) product-related attributes beliefs were also significantly

related to attitude toward the brand, and (3) attitude toward the brand was a strong

mediator between independent variables (OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs) and

purchase intention.

Among the dimensions of OPRs, only satisfaction was a significant indicator in

predicting attitude toward the brand. This result suggests that satisfaction could be

separated from the other dimensions of OPRs, confirming previous studies that showed

that satisfaction could be an overall evaluation of relationship quality. In addition, the

explanatory power of OPRs was found to be weaker than that of product-related attribute

beliefs in predicting attitude toward the brand. However, considering that the present

study only used a laptop computer as a product category, there is a possibility that

different product categories will generate different results.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION

Deciding how to evaluate the effectiveness of public relations is crucial, given the

importance of relationship building as a new paradigm in the field of public relations.

Recently, examination of the relationships that exist between an organization and its key

publics has emerged as a fertile area of public relations scholarship (Bruning &

Ledingham, 1999). As many scholars agree that the ultimate goal of public relations is to

build mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics,

measuring such relationships and their effectiveness becomes a significant matter to

public relations practitioners and top management as well (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999;

Ledingham & Bruning, 1998; Lindenmann, 1999; Huang, 2001).

Recently, scholars have focused their interest on relationship management as a

public relations function-the management of relationships between an organization and

its key publics (Ledingham & Bruning, 2000). According to Ehling (1992), the

relationship management perspective shifts the goal of public relations away from the

manipulation of public opinion, and puts emphasis on building, nurturing, and

maintaining organization-public relationships. This shift is important because the

programs are no longer evaluated in terms of communication of messages, but rather by

determining the influence that organizational activities have on key publics' perceptions

of the organization-public relationship, as well as looking at the impact that

organizational activities have on key publics' behaviors (Bruning & Ledingham, 2000).









Ledingham and Bruning (2000) argue that organizations must engage in

communication and activities that facilitate a sense of trust, openness, involvement,

commitment, and investment. Such approaches are likely to build both the symbolic and

behavioral relationships with key publics (Grunig, 2001).

To build a successful relationship, it is necessary to demonstrate the value of

relationship building to outcomes that contribute to the organizational goals. In contrast

to businesses in the past, today's marketplace puts a much higher value on intangible

assets. For example, companies such as Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Microsoft, and Nike

enjoy high brand equity. Having strong brand equity, these organizations can build

valuable and intangible assets that influence customer preference toward them and

ultimately strengthen the organization's bottom line. Therefore, demonstrating the link

between the organization-public relationship and the OPR's contribution to brand

associations adds to the practical application of relationship-building theory.

A. Ries and L. Ries (2002) asserted that public relations has quietly become the

most powerful marketing discipline, and that public relations, specifically publicity and

the resulting word of mouth, is what builds new brands. Marken (2001) explained what

public relations can and should do for a brand. Also, Markem (2001) contended the

importance of branding, which is how customers feel about the organization, the

relationship, and its products.

Lafferty and Goldsmith (1999) demonstrated the significant effects of corporate

credibility and celebrity credibility on customers' attitude toward the advertising, attitude

toward the brand, and purchase intention. Using path analysis, Goldsmith, Lafferty, and

Newell (2000) also found that endorser credibility had the strongest impact on attitude







3

toward advertising, while corporate credibility had the strongest impact on attitude

toward the brand.

The literature is rich in studies that have assessed the effect of attitude toward

advertising on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. However, to date no

study has examined the impact of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the

brand and purchase intention via the brand attitude. So far, probably the most widely

used approach in dealing with brand attitude formation is based on a multi-attribute

model, where brand attitudes are seen as a function of attributes and benefits associated

with the brand (Keller, 1998).

Earlier, Aaker (1991) stated that developing brand associations with a product

attribute or characteristic is effective because the association can directly translate into

reasons to buy a brand or not. Therefore, in the present study, the effect of product-

related attribute beliefs about the product using the expectancy-value model were also

used to predict attitude toward the brand.

The purpose of the present study was to explore (1) the effects of organization-

public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via brand attitude,

and (2) the effects of product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand and

purchase intention via the brand attitude. The present study also investigated how the

dimensions of organization-public relationships (trust, control mutuality, commitment,

and satisfaction) and product-related attribute beliefs are related to brand attitude

formation and purchase intention via brand attitude. Furthermore, the present study

examined the differences between the impact of organization-public relationships and

product-related attribute beliefs on attitudes toward the brand.














CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW

Relationship Literature

Relationship Management in Public Relations

The origin of the relationship management perspective can be traced back in

1984, when Ferguson called for increased attention to relationships within the scholarship

and practice of public relations. In a 1990 study, Broom and Dozier suggested a co-

orientational approach to measure organization-public relationships, rather than

communication efficiencies as a function of public relations evaluation.

In 1992, J. E. Grunig defined the purpose of public relations as "building

relationships with publics that constrain or enhance the ability of the organization to meet

its mission" (p. 20). L. A. Grunig, J. E. Grunig, and Ehling (1992) went so far as to

suggest that relationships are the center of public relations. "Building relationships-

managing interdependence-is the substance of public relations. Good relationships, in

turn, make organizations more effective because they allow organizations more

freedom-more autonomy-to achieve their missions than they would with bad

relationships" (p. 69).

Later, Cutlip, Center, and Broom (1994) defined public relations as "the

management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships

between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends." (p. 2).

The notion that public relations is the management of organization-public

relationships (OPRs) is reflected in Center and Jackson's (1995) observation that "the

4







5

proper term for the desired outcomes of public relations practice is public relationships.

An organization with effective public relations will attain positive public relationships"

(p. 2). Moreover, the relational perspective explains the function of public relations

within an organizational structure (Ledingham & Bruning, 1998), and provides methods

to determine the impact of public relations on organizational objectives (Ledingham &

Bruning, 1997).

Hutton (1999) noted that "relationship management refers to the practice of public

relations as an exercise in identifying mutual interests, values and benefit between a

client-organization and its publics" (p. 208). According to Hutton (1999), mutual trust,

compromise, cooperation, and win-win situations are essential for successful relationship

management.

The keystone of relationship management perspective is its focus on managing

OPRs to produce benefits not only for organizations, but also for publics (Ledingham,

2001). Furthermore, relationship management theory provides a paradigm for scholarly

inquiry, serves as a direction for public relations education, equips practitioners with an

outcome-based means of accounting for the cost of program initiatives, and requires

public relations experts to be conversant with management concepts and practices.

Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs)

Scholarship concerning the management of OPRs has increased significantly in

recent years. Ledingham and Bruning (1998) offered the following definition of OPR

based on interpersonal relationship principles: "an organization-public relationship is the

state which exists between an organization and its key publics, in which the actions of

either can impact the economic, social, cultural or political well being of the other" (p.

62).







6

Broom, Casey, and Ritchey (2000) pointed out little research has focused on

explicating and measuring the definition of organization-public relationships. Without an

explication of the term "relationship," theory building in public relations will continue to

be difficult (Broom et al., 2000).

Public relations scholars agree on the importance of relationships, but there is no

one common definition for relationship. For example, Kreps (1986) defined public

relations as "the ongoing management of communication relationships among

organizations that share an interorganizational field" (p. 244). This definition focuses on

relationships between organizations, but it does not explain what a relationship is and

does not even consider how publics are a part of communication. Dozier, L. A. Grunig,

and J. E. Grunig (1995) suggested that "the strategic or failure of communication

program is determined by relationships between organizations and key publics" (p. 32).

Huang (1997) offered a more detailed definition that stressed on the importance of

relationships in public relations: "The goal of public relations not only includes the

dissemination of information, but also involves facilitating mutual understanding and

resolving conflicts between an organization and its publics" (p. 7).

With regard to relationships, L. A. Grunig et al. (1992) suggested that the quality

of OPRs might be measured through the dimensions of reciprocity, trust, mutual

legitimacy, openness, mutual satisfaction, and mutual understanding (p. 136). On the

same note, Ledingham, Bruning, Thomlison, and Lesko (1997) conducted a multi-

discipline review of relationship literature and identified 17 dimensions that scholars

have held to be central to interpersonal relationships, marketing relationships, and other

relationships. Those dimensions were the following: investment, commitment, trust,

comfort with relational dialectics, cooperation, mutual goals, interdependence/power







7

imbalance, performance satisfaction, comparison level of the alternatives, adaptation,

non-retrievable investment, shared technology, summate constructs, structural bonds,

social bonds, intimacy, and passion. This initial list was later reduced to five dimensions

(trust, openness, involvement, commitment, and investment) and operationalized through

research with key publics (Ledingham & Bruning, 1998). Ledingham and Bruning

(1998) then examined the link between the five operationalized dimensions and attitudes

toward an organization.

Based upon their findings, Ledingham and Bruning (1998) advanced a "Theory of

Loyalty" holding that "organizational involvement in and support of the community in

which it operates can engender loyalty toward an organization among key publics when

that involvement/support is known by key publics" (p. 63). Ledingham and Bruning

(1998) further asserted that "what emerges is a process in which organizations must (1)

focus on the relationships with their key publics, and (2) communicate involvement of

those activities/programs that build the organization-public relationship to members of

their key publics" (p. 63). Ledingham and Bruning (1998) also suggested, "to be

effective and sustaining, relationships need to be seen as mutually beneficial, based on

mutual interest between an organization and its significant publics" and concluded that

"the key to managing successful relationships is to understand what must be done in

order to initiate, develop, and maintain that relationship" (p. 27).

In subsequent research, Bruning and Ledingham (1998) found that the

relationship dimensions of trust, openness, involvement, commitment, and investment

predicted customer satisfaction in a competitive environment. Bruning and Ledingham

(1998) noted that "the relationship between an organization and its key publics should be

considered when developing customer satisfaction initiatives and should be included in







8

future models of satisfaction research" (p. 199). In 1999, Bruning and Ledingham

grouped together indicators of relationship quality suggested by other scholars into the

three following relationships types: interpersonal, professional, and community. Those

types developed into a multi-item, multi-dimensional scale to measure the quality of

OPRs.

Another study by Ledingham, Bruning, and Wilson (1999) found that OPRs can

and do change over time, and in some cases, it may require decades to solidify an OPR.

As a result, Ledingham et al. emphasized the need to maintain attention to an OPR

throughout its life cycle, not only when the OPR is initiated or when it is declining.

Research thus far has linked OPR perceptions and loyalty toward an organization

within the context of utilities industry, local government, insurance industry, banking,

and higher education.

Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) looked at psychology literature in order to identify

characteristics of interpersonal relationships. Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) concluded that

control mutuality, trust, satisfaction, commitment, exchange relationship, and communal

relationship are good indicators of successful interpersonal relationships. Public relations

research shows that those six elements can be applied equally well to organization-public

relationship settings (Huang, 1997).

Continuing this line of research, J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) identified trust,

control mutuality, relationship commitment, and relationship satisfaction as the most

important outcome factors in an organization-public relationship. These four dimensions

were thought of as being most significant because they appeared consistently in both

organizational and interpersonal communication literature (J. E. Grunig & Huang, 2000).









J. E. Grunig and Huang (2000) argued that many other factors identified by scholars are

components of trust, control mutuality, satisfaction, and commitment.

Based on conceptual foundations, as well as empirical data, Huang (1998) defined

an OPR as "the degree that the organization and its publics trust one another, agree on

that one has rightful power to influence, experience satisfaction with each other, and

commit oneself to one another" (p. 12). Huang (1998) further explored the causal

relationships between public relations strategies and an OPR. Also, Huang (2001)

demonstrated that OPRs were key mediating variables in the effect of an organization's

public relations strategies on resolving the conflicts between the organization and its

publics.

Kim (2001) collected and factor-analyzed all available items from interpersonal,

relationship marketing, and public relations literature, in order to devise a valid and

reliable instrument to measure the organization-public relationship. Kim's (2001) study

developed a valid and reliable four-dimension scale with 16 items for measuring the

organization-public relationship through exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses.

The four dimensions included trust, commitment, local or community involvement, and

reputation. The Cronbach's alpha reliability coefficients were .78 for trust, .84 for

commitment, .85 for local or community involvement, and .83 for reputation,

respectively.

Table 2-1 summarizes measures and instruments used by scholars to evaluate the

organization-public relationship in public relations.









Table 2-1. Frameworks for the organization-public relationship measurement
Study OPR Dimensions Sample & Survey Instruments
Ferguson, 1984 Dynamic vs. static, open vs. The origin of the relationship
closed, mutual satisfaction, management perspective
distribution of power,
mutual understanding,
mutual agreement
L. A. Grunig et Reciprocity, trust, The researchers suggested that the
al, 1992 credibility, mutual quality of OPRs might be measured
legitimacy, openness, through these dimensions.
mutual satisfaction, and
mutual understanding
Huang, 1997 Trust, control mutuality, 311 legislative members and their
relational commitment, assistants; 16 items (1997)
relational satisfaction
Ledingham and Openness, trust, 384 residential telephone
Bruning, 1998 involvement, investment, subscribers; 91 items (1998)
commitment
Bruning and Personal relationship The study was an attempt to design
Ledingham, professional relationship a multiple-item, multiple-dimension
1999 community relationship organization-public relationship
scale.
The OPR provided an instrument
that can be used to measure the
influence that perceptions of the
OPR have on consumer attitudes,
predispositions, and behavior, as
well as an opportunity to track
changes in OPR perceptions over
time.
Bank officials provided the
researchers with a list of 2100
randomly selected customers and
their telephone numbers.
Data were gathered by 17 students
enrolled in an undergraduate public
relations research course.
Each student completed about 11
telephone interviews.
183 surveys of bank customers
were collected; 51 items (1999)









Table 2-1. Continued
Study OPR Dimensions Sample & Survey Instruments
Hon and J. E. Trust, control mutuality, A pilot survey to see how
Grunig, 1999 commitment, satisfaction, respondents evaluated their
communal relationships, relationships with five
exchange relationships organizations chosen to represent
different types of public and private
organizations with both good and
bad reputations
The researchers conducted the
survey by placing a questionnaire
on the Internet and inviting people
from randomly chosen e-mail
addresses to respond.
200 online users; 52 items (1999)
J. E. Grunig and Trust, control mutuality, 311 legislative members and their
Huang, 2000 commitment, satisfaction assistants; 16 items (1997)
Bruning and Personal relationship 164 students were surveyed to
Ralston, 2001 professional relationship determine whether student-
community relationship university relationship attitudes
differentiated those who indicated
they were planning on returning to
the institution from those who were
not or were undecided.
Also, focus groups used to define
student-university relationships.
Huang, 2001 Trust, control mutuality, A cross-cultural, multiple-item
commitment, satisfaction, scale for measuring organization-
face and favor public relationships was developed
not only to fulfill the standards of
reliability and validity in
measurement but also to acquire
cross-cultural comparability.
1st stage: 311 legislative members
and their assistants; 16 items (1997)
2nd stage: 235 public relations
practitioners from Executive Yuan
in Taiwan; 21 items (1999)
Kim, 2001 Trust, commitment, local 1st stage: 160 undergraduate
and community students, 58 items
involvement, reputation 2nd stage: 102 community residents,
16 item
3rd stage: 157 customers of online
company, 16 items









Table 2-1. Continued
Study OPR Dimensions Sample & Survey Instruments
Bruning, 2002 Personal relationship 122 students (enrolled in an
professional relationship introductory communication course
community relationship at a small, private mid-western
university) were surveyed to
determine whether student-
university relationship attitudes and
satisfaction evaluations
distinguished those who returned to
the university from those who did
not.

Conceptualizations of relationship management and organization-public

relationships in the public relations literature mirror concepts from marketing literature.

Hutton (1999) noted that while there are substantial differences between marketing and

public relations, there are also many characteristics these professions have in common.

According to Hutton (1999), marketing and public relations both deal with external

constituencies, messages, media, public opinion, and audience segmentation. Key factors

in both professions are communication, persuasion, and relationships (Hutton, 1999).

Early marketing literature conceptualized relationship quality as a higher-order

construct consisting of several distinct, though related, dimensions (Dorsch, Swanson, &

Kelley, 1998; Kumar, Scheer, & Steenkamp, 1995). Later, relationship quality was

considered as an overall assessment of the strength of that relationship (Garbarino &

Johnson, 1999; Smith, 1998). Although there still is discussion about what dimensions

make up relationship quality, scholars thus far have emphasized the importance of

relationship satisfaction, trust, and commitment as valid indicators of relationship quality

(Wulf, Odekerken-Schroder, & Lacobucci, 2001).

Based on previous literature, the present study adopts trust, control mutuality,

commitment, and satisfaction as the dimensions on which to measure organization-public







13

relationships. Characteristics of these four dimensions of organization-public relations

are summarized below.

Trust

Trust is widely accepted as an important component of interpersonal,

organizational, and organization-public relationships (J. E. Grunig & Huang, 2000), and

is generally viewed as an essential element for successful relationships (Berry 1995;

Dwyer, Schurr, & Oh, 1987; Moorman, Deshpande, & Zaltman 1993; Morgan & Hunt,

1994). From a marketing perspective, Moorman, Deshpande, and Zaltman (1993) define

trust as "a willingness to rely on an exchange partner in whom one has confidence." (p.

82). Moorman et al. asserted that confidence and trustworthiness result from the ability

to perform (expertise), reliability, and intentionality. According to Morgan and Hunt

(1994), trust represents the perception of"confidence in the exchange partner's reliability

and integrity." (p. 23). Both definitions highlight the importance of confidence and

reliability in the conception of trust.

Trust appears to be the cornerstone of successful relationships, which can only be

built in time (Davidson & Kapelianis, 1996; Dumoulin & Boyd, 1997). In fact, Vercic

and J. E. Grunig (1995) went so far as to state that trust is the characteristic that allows an

organization to exist (J. E. Grunig & Huang, 2000). Trust, however, is a

multidimensional concept (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Its secondary components are

integrity, dependability, and competence (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). If an organization

has integrity, then publics believe that it is fair in its interactions (Hon & J. E. Grunig,

1999). Dependability means that publics can rely on the organization to do what it says

(Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Competence means that the organization has the resources

and ability to follow through with its commitments (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Putting







14

all together, Wulf, Odekerken-Schroder, and Lacobucci (2001) defined trust in marketing

as a consumer's confidence in an organization's reliability and integrity.

Because trust is so critical, an organization should not compromise it for a short-

term benefit. The long-term reputation that the organization acquires by being

trustworthy will make the relationship between that organization and its publics better

and stronger (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Referring to the retail business, Berry (1993)

stresses that "trust is the basis for loyalty" (p. 1). Moorman, Deshpande, & Zaltman

(1993) said that trust is the behavioral intention of "willingness." Moorman et al. also

argued that this behavioral intention is a critical facet of trust's conceptualization because

"if one believes that a partner is trustworthy without being willing to rely on that partner,

trust is limited" (p. 315).

Control mutuality

According to Huang (2001), the concept of control mutuality is similar to other

concepts scholars suggested as being significant to relationships: Bruning and

Ledingham's (1999) concept of mutual legitimacy, Aldrich's (1975, 1979) concept of

reciprocity, Ferguson's (1984) idea of distribution of power in the relationship, Millar

and Rogers's (1976) construct of power, and Moore's (1986) notion of empowerment.

Huang also noted that in essence, the sense of control mutuality between the opposing

parties in a relationship is critical to interdependence and relational stability.

Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) defined control mutuality as "the degree to which

parties agree on who has rightful power to influence one another" (p. 13). J. E. Grunig

and Huang (2000) stated that some imbalance of power is inevitable in many

relationships and that control mutuality takes this asymmetry into account. However, if

one party attempts to have sole control over the relationship, the other outcome factors-







15

trust, satisfaction and commitment-will suffer (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Therefore, it

is beneficial for parties to agree on the level of control mutuality in a relationship.

Commitment

Commitment examines the degree to which "one party believes and feels that the

relationship is worth spending energy to maintain and promote" (Hon & J. E. Grunig,

1999, p. 14). The literature reveals that commitment has long been a central notion in the

social exchange approach (Stafford & Canary, 1991). Bruning and Ledingham (1999)

included this concept into their nine-dimension scale. Cook and Emerson (1978) used the

concept of commitment to distinguish between social and economic exchanges.

Commitment is examined as an effective indicator of internal relationships in an

organizational setting. For example, commitment has been associated closely with

increased organizational citizenship, recruiting and training practices, and organizational

support (Morgan & Hunt, 1994). In service relationships, Berry and Parasuraman (1991)

held that relationships are built on the foundation of mutual commitment.

From the perspective of relationship marketing, Morgan and Hunt (1994) defined

relationship commitment as an exchange partner. If the committed party believes the

relationship is worth promoting then they will put forth maximum effort in order to

maintain the relationship. Morgan and Hunt also viewed brand loyalty as a form of

commitment. Similarly, the four components contributing to organizational relationships

identified by Aldrich (1975, 1979)-formalization, intensity, reciprocity, and

standardization-can be viewed as forms of commitment in OPRs. Morgan and Hunt

(1994) concluded that commitment is vital to the relationship of the organization and its

various partners.







16

Commitment is generally regarded to be a significant result of good relational

interactions (Dwyer, Schurr, & Oh, 1987; Morgan & Hunt, 1994). Gundlach, Achrol,

and Mentzer (1995) argued that commitment has the three following components: an

instrumental component of some form of investment, an attitudinal component that may

be described as affective commitment or psychological attachment, and a temporal

dimension indicating that the relationship exists over time.

Satisfaction

Having satisfaction means that the organization and its publics feel positive

toward each other. Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999) defined relationship satisfaction as "the

extent to which one party feels favorably toward the other because positive expectations

about the relationship are reinforced" (p. 14). Hecht (1978) conceptualized satisfaction

as the favorable affective response to the reinforcement of positive expectations in a

certain kind of situation.

Stafford and Canary (1991) held that from a social exchange perspective, a

satisfying relationship is one in which "the distribution of rewards is equitable and the

relational rewards outweigh costs" (p. 225). Stafford and Canary (1991) also indicated

that perceptions of partners' constructive maintenance behaviors increase one's

satisfaction with the relationship, and they thus concluded that relational satisfaction

probably is the hallmark of effective relational maintenance.

The importance of satisfaction as a crucial attribute of relational quality has been

acknowledged widely (Ferguson, 1984; Miller & Rogers, 1976; Stafford & Canary, 1991).

Ferguson (1984) held that the degree to which both an organization and its public are

satisfied with their relationship is one of the significant indicators for gauging

organizational relationships. Wulf, Odekerken-Schroder, and Lacobucci (2001) defined







17

relationship satisfaction as a consumer's affective state resulting from an overall

evaluation of his or her relationship with an organization.


Given the lack of attitudinal and behavioral research in public relations, it is very

important to understand how consumers' association with an organization affects their

attitude toward the brand and purchase intention.

Several studies have demonstrated that corporate image affects consumer product

judgments and responses in a positive manner (Belch & Belch, 1987; Carlson, 1963,

Cohen, 1963; Keller & Aaker, 1994; Wansink, 1989). For example, Keller and Aaker

(1992) showed that corporate credibility had a positive impact on consumer product

responses.

However, much of the early empirical research on corporate associations focuses

on creating measures of various constructs, such as corporate image, rather than on

developing theoretical links to other important constructs, such as consumer responses

(Bolger, 1959; Clevenger, Lazier, & Clark, 1965; Cohen, 1967; Hill, 1962; Spector,

1961; Tucker, 1961). Brown and Dacin (1997) noted that when a consumer identifies a

product with a company, her or his overall evaluation of the company is likely to

influence the evaluation of the product.

In 1998, Hon called for research to explore causal relationships between public

relations activities and specific outcomes. Later, Ledingham and Bruning (2000) showed

that when an organization engages in action and communication that promote a sense of

openness, trust, commitment, involvement, and investment, it builds symbolic and

behavioral relationships with its key publics. Ledingham and Bruning's (2000) research

proved that when a managed communication program centered on the relationship







18

dimensions was implemented, there was a 10% increase in the number of customers who

said they would stay with their current local telephone service provider.

An organization should listen to the publics' voices, and as a result bring about

changes in publics' awareness, attitudes, and behaviors. To measure the overall

effectiveness of organization-public relationships, it becomes important to evaluate

publics' attitude toward brands as a possible outcome. Brand attitude is a major component

and indicator of brand equity.

Brands are significant to organizations because they contribute to the building of

intangible assets, which lead to customer loyalty, which in turn contributes to the

organization's bottom line. Thus, exploring the relationship between the OPR and the

OPR's contribution to brand attitude formation can be a valuable addition to the

relationship theory in public relations. The present study looks at the dimensions of

organization-public relationship as independent variables contributing to the formation of

attitudes toward a brand.

Although no previous research has shown that each dimension of the OPRs

directly influences brand attitude, the present study attempts to explore the effect of each

of the four dimensions of the OPRs (trust, control mutuality, commitment, and

satisfaction) on brand attitude formation. If these relationships hold, our study can

propose a model for measuring attitudes toward the brand as an outcome of organization-

public relationships. Based on the existing literature, the following research question was

investigated:

RQ1: How are the four dimensions of organization-public relationships-trust,
control mutuality, satisfaction, and commitment-related to attitudes toward a
brand?







19

Attitude and Brand Literature

Attitude

Attitude has been defined as a construct combining belief, affect, and conation

intervening between stimulus and response. Allport (1935) considered it as one of the

most unique and essential concepts in modem social psychology. Conceptually, an

attitude is "a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity

with some degree of favor or disfavor" (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993). Eagly and Chaiken

(1993) defined psychological tendency as a state that is internal to the person and

evaluating as all classes of evaluative responding, whether overt or covert, cognitive,

affective, or behavioral.

Research suggests that six of the strongest marketing-related variables indicative

of the attitude formation process a consumer follows are: familiarity, acceptability,

preference, purchase intent, satisfaction, and usage (Haley & Case, 1979; Haley, 1985).

These variables resonate with the Hierarchy of Effects model, which suggests that

consumers exposed to an advertising campaign are taken from unawareness to awareness,

knowledge, liking, preference, and conviction to purchase the product (Lavidge &

Steiner, 1961).

Mitchell and Olson (1981) defined attitude as "an individual's internal evaluation

of an object such as a branded product" (p. 318). According to Fishbein and Ajzen (1975),

attitude is "a function of his/her salient beliefs at a given point in time" (p. 222). Beliefs

are the subjective associations between any two differentiable concepts and salient beliefs

are those activated from memory and considered by the person in a given situation

(Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975).







20

Research shows that the correlation between attitudes and actions can be strong

under certain conditions (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen & Fishbein, 1977; Fazio & Zanna,

1981). Attitudes play a key role in predicting purchase behavior for particular brands. For

this reason, much study has concentrated on the cognitive and affective determinants of

attitudes in hopes of predicting the conative factor. The affective link has become the main

player in today's marketplace (Batra, Myers, & Aaker, 1996).

Assessing individuals' opinions, attitudes, and preferences becomes extremely

important when seeking to measure the overall impact or effectiveness of a particular

public relations program or activity. Lindenmann (2002) asserted that attitude research

measures not only what people say about something, but also what they know and think

(their mental or cognitive predispositions), what they feel (their emotions), and how they

are inclined to act (their motivational or drive tendencies). Given the importance of

attitude research in measuring public relations outcomes, the organization-public

relationships can be used to predict consumers' attitudes toward brands.

Attitude toward the Brand (Ab)

Brand attitudes are considered important phenomena in consumer behavior,

marketing, and advertising (Mitchell & Olsen, 1981; Gardner, 1985). Brand attitudes are

defined in terms of consumers' overall evaluations of a brand (Wilkie, 1990).

Attitude toward the ad (Aad), attitude toward the brand (Ab), and purchase

intention (PI) represent the main outcome variables in many studies of advertising

effectiveness (Heath & Gaeth, 1994; Kalwani & Silk, 1982; MacKenzie & Lutz, 1989).

While substantial effort has been devoted to measuring attitude toward the brand and

purchase intention as the effect of attitude toward advertising, no empirical research has

looked at the effect of organization-public relationships on brand attitude.







21

Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) defined attitude toward the brand as a predisposition to

respond in a consistently favorable or unfavorable manner to a particular brand. Mitchell

and Olson (1981) defined attitude toward the brand as consumers' overall evaluation of

good or bad. Such evaluations are important to researchers because they often are the

basis for consumer behaviors, such as brand choice. Semantic differential scales

measuring brand attitude are frequent in marketing and advertising literature. Bruner and

Hensel (1996) reported 66 published studies which measured brand attitude, typically as

the dependent variable in research on product line extensions or advertising effects.

Many studies in advertising have focused on understanding how advertisements

affect consumers' attitude toward advertised brands (Gardner, 1985). Many studies have

shown that consumers' brand-related beliefs affect brand attitude formation (Mitchell &

Olson, 1981) and change (Lutz, 1975). Understanding the roles of brand-related beliefs

and attitudes toward the advertisement in the formation of brand attitudes has significant

implications for theoretical conceptualizations of the attitude formation process. In the

present study, organization-public relationships are used to explain brand attitudes.

According to Olins (2000),"Brands are the device we use to differentiate between

otherwise almost indistinguishable competitors. Without clear branding, in some fields,

we literally could not tell one product or service from another" (p. 61). Olins (2000) also

suggested that people can have a relationship with a brand: "they have an immense

emotional content and inspire loyalty beyond reason" (p. 63). Olins's (2000) discussion

suggests that brands could consist of the following three factors: the behavior of an

organization-often defined as a component of organizational identity,

communications/messages to define differentiating attributes of an organization or









product, or relationships with an organization as people conceptualize that organization

(Van Riel, 1995).

Ledingham and Bruning (1998) found a link between relationships and public

loyalty toward an organization. Ledingham and Bruning's (1998) research showed that

consumers who ranked the organization high with regard to the dimensions of trust,

openness, involvement, commitment, and investment said they would stay with that

company in the face of competition. In other words, the research showed that building

effective relationships can center evaluation of public relations activities on attitudinal

and behavioral outcomes (Bruning, 2002).

Difference between a Brand and Product

It is important to differentiate between a brand and a product. A brand is

something that comes from the consumers' perceptions and ideas regarding the product.

(Blackston, 1992). The product is the actual good or service with functional purpose.

Therefore, the brand offers something in addition to this functional purpose. "Products

are what the company makes; what the customer buys is a brand" (Kapferer, 1992, p. 2).

According to Kotler (1980), a product is defined as anything that can be offered

to a market for attention, acquisition, use, or consumption that may satisfy a need or

want. A brand is a product, but one that adds other dimensions to differentiate it in some

way from other products designed to satisfy the same need (Keller, 1998). Achenbaum

(1993) differentiated a brand from a product. Achenbaum said that what distinguishes a

brand from its unbranded commodity counterpart is the sum of consumers' perceptions

and feelings about the product's attributes and how it performs, about the brand name and

what it stands for, and about the company associated with the brand.









Because the brand offers more than a product, it can be viewed as a product that

provides functional benefits plus added values that consumers value enough to buy

(Jones, 1986). The crucial part of this definition is that the brand offers "added value,"

which is something invisible, intangible, and non-functional. The goal of most

companies is to develop brands that gratify consumers with consistent added values, as

well as to create, maintain, protect, and enhance its brand names. A strong brand is

considered to be an asset for a company. The organization-public relationships can lead

consumers to have a positive brand attitude and purchase the brand by associating these

added values with the product itself.

Product-Related Attribute Beliefs

In the present study, product-related attribute beliefs were used to examine the

effect on brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand attitude, compared to the

effect of organization-public relationships on brand attitude and purchase intention via

the brand attitude.

Keller (1998) asserted that brand associations could be classified into three major

categories: attributes, benefits, and attitudes. Attributes are those descriptive features that

characterize a product or service, what consumers think the product or service is or has,

and what is involved with its purchase or consumption. Attributes can be product-

related, and non-product-related such as price, user and usage imagery, and brand

personality. According to Keller (1998), product-related attributes are "the ingredients

necessary for performing the product or service function sought by consumers" (p. 93).

Product-related attributes refer to a product's physical composition or a service's

requirements and are what determine the nature and level of product performance (Keller,

1998). Product-related attributes can be further characterized according to important and







24

optional features, either necessary for a product to work, or for allowing customization

and more versatile, personalized usage (Keller, 1998).

Keller (1998) defined non-product-related attributes as external aspects of the

product or service that often relate to its purchase or consumption in some way. Keller

(1998) said that non-product-related attributes might affect the purchase or consumption

procedure, but do not directly influence the product performance. Examples of non-

product-related attributes that do not relate directly to product performance can be the

company or person that makes the product and the country in which it is made, the type

of store in which it is sold, the events for which the brand is a sponsor and the people

who endorse the brand, and so on (Keller, 1998). Compared to product-related attributes,

the present study assumes that organization-public relationships can be non-product-

related attributes used to predict the brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand

attitude.

Biel (1992) argued that brand association could be the result of corporate image,

product image, and user image. Each of these three images can be divided into two types

of associations. One is the perception of functional attributes, like speed or ease to use.

The other is related to emotional attributes, like being exciting, innovative, or

trustworthy. Farquhar and Herr (1993) suggested that the types of brand association

include product category, usage situation, product attribute, and customer benefits.

Attitude is understood as an intricate set of cognitive, affective, and behavioral

processes between an attitude object and a consumer. Several different models of attitude

have been posited for consideration. The most widely accepted approach to modeling

attitudes is a multi-attribute conceptualization in which attitudes are a function of the

associated attributes and benefits that are salient for the attitude object itself.









The expectancy-value approach as a general framework for understanding

attitudes was created by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975). Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) proposed

that attitudes are a function of (a) beliefs about the attitude object (cognitive-based

nature), defined as the subjective probability that the attitude object has each attribute,

and (b) the evaluative aspect of these beliefs, defined as the evaluation of each attribute

(affect-based nature). Fishbein and his collaborators have focused on beliefs as causes of

attitudes and thereby assumed that attitudes derive from beliefs about attitude objects. As

applied to marketing or advertising, this expectancy-value model sees brand attitudes as a

multiplicative function of the salient beliefs that a consumer has about the brand and the

evaluation of those beliefs (Keller, 1998). Based on the attitude literature, the following

hypothesis was investigated:

HI: Product-related attribute beliefs are related to attitude toward the brand

To compare the effects of the organization-public relationships and product-

related attribute beliefs on brand attitude as corporate associations and consumer product

associations, respectively, the following research question was investigated:

RQ2: Are there any significant differences between the impact of organization-
public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the
brand?

Purchase Intention (PI)

Purchase intention (PI) is the consumers' tendency to act toward an object, and is

generally measured in terms of intention to buy. Advertising managers often test the

elements of the marketing mix-alternative product concepts, ads, packaging, or brand

names-to determine what is most likely to influence purchase behavior (Assael, 1995). In

the absence of actual buying behavior, management uses the closest substitute, intention to

buy, to determine the effectiveness of the components of the marketing mix.









For any communication-based concepts to exist, it has been shown that there are

multiple related theories and conceptualizations of the relationships between attitude

toward the brand and most specifically purchase intention. Advertising effectiveness is

widely studied by both academicians and practitioners. From a public relations perspective,

the organization-public relationships may provide the opportunity for attitudinal

development through influencing intention to buy.

One of the most commonly accepted theories used in marketing today, the Dual

Mediation Hypothesis (Brown & Stayman, 1992; MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986),

addresses the many attitudinal-behavioral patterns and relationships in advertising. The

DMH was developed in research studies dealing with attitude toward the brand and

affective motivation. Results represented accurately the interrelationships among brand

and ad cognitions, and purchase intention (MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986). These

affective and cognitive-based attitudes toward the brand have a direct effect on purchase

intentions (Homer & Yoon, 1992). This causal sequence of attitudes leading to purchase

intention may be an important measure of the attitude toward the brand.

Attitudes are the most abstract and highest-level type of brand associations.

Keller (1998) pointed out that consumers' brand attitudes generally depend on specific

considerations concerning the attributes and benefits of the brand. The Fishbein and

Ajzen's (1975) expectancy-value model suggests that overall brand attitudes depend on

the strength of association between the salient attributes associated with the brand and the

evaluation of those attribute beliefs. It is important to consider two different bases of

brand attitudes formation: (1) beliefs about product-related attributes and functional

benefits and/or (2) beliefs about non-product-related attributes and symbolic and









experiential benefits (Keller, 1998). Based on theoretical background about causal

relationships of attitude-purchase intention, it was hypothesized that:

H2: Attitude toward the brand will be positively related to purchase intention.

Non-product-related attributes
Trust

Control mutuality
Commitment

Satisfaction

& aBrand attitude p Purchase intention


Product-related attributes
Product-related
attribute beliefs


Figure 2-1. Conceptual model of the relationships among OPRs, product-related attribute
beliefs, attitude toward the brand, and purchase intention














CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

The present study investigates empirically the effects of organization-public

relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via the brand attitude.

Based on the proposition that product-related attribute beliefs affect brand attitude, the

present study also measures product-related attribute beliefs to compare the effects of

OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude and purchase intention via

the brand attitude.

For the present study, Sony and its brand of personal computers, VAIO, were

selected. Sony has always had very strong brand equity, particularly related to its

electronic appliances such as television sets, camcorders, and the portable cassette player

Walkman. The reason for choosing a personal computer as a product is that a computer

is very relevant to students, the participants of this empirical study. In the near future,

students are likely to purchase computers, which require cognitive effort (H. Lee, J. Lee,

& Harrell, 2001). In addition, since a computer has product-related attributes, the present

study is able to measure the relationship between computer-related attribute beliefs and

brand attitude.

By using sophisticated measurement tools that demonstrate the fundamental role of

relationships in public relations, the present study adds to the body of knowledge in the

public relations field. In particular, the present study advances the existing theory and

literature on organization-public relationships using attitudinal and behavioral approaches.

In addition, the present study is the first to examine both the link between organization-

28







29

public relationships and brand attitude and the link between OPRs and purchase intention

via the brand attitude. This innovative approach is based on the growing trend of

evaluating public relations in the context of relationship management.

The present study uses an intercept survey of students. All previous studies on

OPRs used surveys to measure relationships between an organization and publics. To

allow for generalizations among college students, the present study assumes that an

intercept survey is better than a class survey. In addition, survey research is the most

frequently used research method in public relations (Pavlik, 1987). A content analysis

done by Pavlik and Summerall (1986) found that about 67% of the published studies in

public relations journals used the survey method.

Surveys are used to gather information from a sample of individuals and are

probably the best method available in social sciences because it allows for data collection

from a large population (Babbie, 2001). Surveys are popular research methods because

they offer many advantages. For example, surveys are versatile in that they enable

statistical analysis of data, can be cost-efficient, and can be administered in various ways

(Babbie, 2001). However, survey research has the weaknesses of being somewhat

artificial, potentially superficial, and difficult to gain a full sense of social processes in

their natural settings (Babbie, 2001).

However, given the purpose of the current study, survey methodology was used to

develop a measure of the perceptions that publics have of their relationships with an

organization. The results of the survey will provide data to test the effects of organization-

public relationships on attitudinal and behavioral outcomes.

Parasuraman et al. (1988) suggested that in order to evaluate the quality of an

organization's service, a good approach is to measure the publics' perception of it.







30

Similarly, the present study uses survey methodology to measure the dimensions of OPRs

from the perspective of the public's perception of their relationship with a company and

brand attitude and purchase intention. Since the survey findings can provide quantifiable

evidence of the perceptions that publics have of their relationships with an organization, the

results of the present study will contribute to the public relations management and

demonstrate the value of the effect of organization-public relationships on brand attitude.

The present study used a survey instrument developed by J. E. Grunig and Huang

(summarized in Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) from the University of Maryland to measure

organization-public relationships. The instrument represents a shorter version of an earlier

six-dimension scale (trust, control mutuality, commitment, satisfaction, communal

relationships, and exchange relationships) created by the same researchers. J. E. Grunig

and Huang (2000) argued that trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction

represent the essence of OPRs mentioning that these factors occur consistently in the

literature regarding interpersonal and organizational relationships. Therefore, the present

study uses the four most important dimensions (trust, control mutuality, commitment, and

satisfaction) out of the six original dimensions of relationship measurement scales.

Pretests

Before conducting the actual survey, two different protests were conducted. This

preliminary step, less expensive and time consuming than the actual research, is

necessary to uncover item ambiguities and other sources of bias and error (Garson, 2003).

According to Converse and Presser (1986), a minimum of two protests is necessary, with

25-75 participants similar to those in the final sample. The two protests conducted in the

present study are described below.









Pretest 1

Pretest 1 was conducted to decide the salient attributes of Sony VAIO computers

that could measure product-related attribute beliefs. Thirty students at the University of

Florida participated in Pretest 1. Fifteen students were undergraduate students taking

Advertising Strategy (ADV 3001) and 15 students were graduate students taking Public

Relations Management (PUR 6607). The salient attributes of Sony computers were

determined by a free-elicitation technique as recommended by Fishbein and Ajzen

(1975). When eliciting the salient beliefs that determine attitudes toward behaviors, it is

essential to ensure correspondence in action, target, context, and time elements (Ajzen &

Fishbein, 1980). Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) propose that when we elicit salient beliefs

about a consumer buying something in the next six months, we should ask the consumer

the following questions: (1) What do you believe are the advantages and disadvantages of

your buying something in the next six months? (2) What else do you associate with your

buying something in the next six months? However, attempting to understand the

reasons for purchasing one brand over another, market researchers have often asked

questions such as, "In thinking about buying an automobile, what characteristics are

important to you?" (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Therefore, to elicit salient attributes,

respondents in the pretest were given a few minutes to list their thoughts in response to

the following question: "In thinking about buying a laptop computer, what characteristics

are important to you?" Clearly, the perceived consequences of buying a Sony VAIO

laptop computer may be very different from those of buying a laptop computer in

general. As the present study assumed that VAIO was not a brand well known among all

college students, respondents were asked to write down the attributes important to them if

they were buying any laptop computer instead of a Sony VAIO laptop computer.









Table 3-1 shows the five most frequent salient attributes that the respondents

considered important.


Table 3-1. Salient attributes of Sony VAIO computers
Sony VAIO computer Frequency
Better quality of components 27
(e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive)
Longer/Better warranty 22
(including technical service)
More portable 19
Better customer service
10
(not including technical service)
Nicer looking design/appearance 9
Others (customized computer, bundled
software, operating platform, etc)
Total 94


Percent of responses

28.72

23.40

20.21

10.64

9.57

7.45

100


N=30

Better quality of components (28.72%) such as CD-ROM and DVD drive was

regarded as the most important attribute when they consider buying a laptop computer,

followed closely by longer/better warranty including technical service (23.40%). Other

attributes mentioned by respondents were more portable (20.21%), better customer

service not including technical service (10.64%), and nicer looking design/appearance

(9.57). Attributes such as customization, bundled software, an operating platform, and

others (7.45%) were grouped in a separate category. When selecting the five most

mentioned important attributes, brand reputation (12) and price (14) were excluded from

the Sony VAIO computer's salient attribute list because they are non-product-related

attributes.

In conclusion, better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive),

longer/better warranty (including technical service), more portable, better customer







33

service (not including technical service), and nicer looking design/appearance were

selected as five most salient attributes in the present study.

Pretest 2

The second pretest was conducted with 37 University of Florida students to check

if college students were qualified as consumers who have established relationships with

Sony, and to help identify whether there were any problems with the survey instrument or

survey instructions. Participants were 16 graduate students enrolled in Public Relations

Management (PUR 6607) course and 21 undergraduate students enrolled in Introduction

to Public Speaking (SPC 2600) who completed a self-administered questionnaire.

To make sure that college students are suitable for the present study, the students

in this pretest were asked how familiar they were with the company Sony, Sony's

products in general, and whether they have ever purchased Sony products. Also, this

pretest checked how familiar college students were with Sony VAIO desktop or laptop

computers. The present study assumed that the company and given product category

should be well known among college students, even though they do not know about the

brand. In addition, this pretest also included questions about their ownership of a

computer and a Sony VAIO computer.

The pretest results showed that everyone in the sample had some degree of

familiarity with the company Sony. Fourteen students (37.8%) answered "somewhat

familiar", 15 students (40.5%) answered "familiar", and 8 students (21.6%) answered

"very familiar" to the question "How familiar are you with the company Sony?".

Regarding the familiarity with the Sony's products in general, only one student (2.7%)

answered "not familiar at all", 13 students (35.1%) answered "somewhat familiar", 17

students (45.9%) answered "familiar", and 6 students (16.2%) answered "very familiar".









Of all 37 students, only two of them had never purchased any Sony products before. In

terms of ownership of computers, 35 students had personal computers and two students

did not. Of the 35 students who had computers, five students (14.3%) had a Sony VAIO

desktop or laptop computer. As the present study assumed, most students were not

familiar with Sony VAIO computers. Eighteen students (48.6%) answered "not familiar

at all", 13 students (35.1%) answered "somewhat familiar," two students answered

"familiar", and four students (10.8%) answered "very familiar" to the question, "How

familiar are you with "Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers?". Of those four

students who answered "very familiar", three students already had Sony VAIO

computers.

In regards to the wording of relationship questionnaire items, the respondents'

answers seemed to indicate that the questions asked were relevant to students as

consumers of Sony. In the instructions at the beginning of the relationship questionnaire,

the explicit sentence, "When answering each question, think about your relationship with

Sony as a customer" made respondents answer the questions thinking of themselves as

customers of Sony. To avoid confusion, certain items used by previous studies were

slightly modified in the present study. Specifically, the statement "people like me,"

which was present in several items, was changed to "me as a customer." For example, a

question borrowed from previous public relations instruments, "Whenever Sony makes

an important decision, I know it will be concerned about people like me," was reworded

to "Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know they will be concerned about

me as a customer." In addition, one item with negative meaning was changed into a

positive meaning as to not confuse respondents. The original question, "In dealing with

people like me, Sony has a tendency to throw its weight around" was reworded as "In







35

dealing with customers like me, Sony does not have a tendency to throw its weight

around." Also, the original wording of the question, "This organization and people like

me are attentive to what each other say" was changed to "Sony and I pay attention to

what each other communicated." Table 3-2 indicates the means of familiarity with Sony,

Sony products in general, and Sony VAIO computers in particular.



Table 3-2. The means of familiarity with Sony, Sony products and Sony VAIO
computers
Mean SD
Familiarity with the company Sony 2.84 .76
Familiarity with Sony products general 2.76 .76
Familiarity with Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers 1.78 .98
Note: Each item was measured on a 4-point Likert scale.

In conclusion, the results of the first pretest provided the five most salient attributes

for measuring product-related attribute beliefs based on the expectancy-value model.

Better quality of components (27%) was the most important attribute, followed by

longer/better warranty (22%), more portable (19%), better customer service (10%), and

nicer looking design/appearance. The second pretest confirmed that college students fit the

present study as customers of Sony based on their familiarity with the company, its

products, and prior buying experience of Sony products. The degree of familiarity with the

company Sony and Sony products in general served as the prerequisite that college students

are likely to have relationships with Sony. In addition, reworded relationship questionnaire

items proved to be appropriate to college students as customers of Sony.









Survey

Sample and Procedure

College students are heavy users and buyers of computers, and therefore are

relevant respondents for the present study. Two hundred thirty-three students at the

University of Florida voluntarily agreed to complete the survey. Data collection took

place in the Plaza of the Americas, a public area and forum on the university campus, on

two days from 1 la.m. to 2p.m. Respondents who completed the survey received pizza as

an incentive for their participation.

Before beginning the analysis, the present study had to eliminate responses that

did not qualify for the study, as explained below. Because this survey questionnaire was

designed for a student sample, four non-student respondents were excluded from the

present study. Twenty-eight people who already had Sony VAIO computers were also

excluded because they were not qualified to answer the question about the intent to buy a

Sony VAIO computer in the near future. People who answered "not familiar at all" to

either question of familiarity with the company Sony or with Sony's products in general

were excluded. Also, seven people who had never purchased Sony's products before

were excluded because the present study assumed that they have no relationship with

Sony. Eleven incomplete questionnaires were also eliminated, because the respondents

skipped a significant number of items. One participant that answered "7" to all 7-point

Likert scale questions was excluded from the present study as well. Therefore, out of 233

completed questionnaires, a total of 52 questionnaires were excluded. As a result, the

final sample contained 178 valid cases.









Measures

J. E. Grunig, Huang, and other graduate students in public relations at the

University of Maryland have developed reliable indicators of public perceptions of

organization-public relationships. The initial scale was composed of six relationship

indicators: trust, control mutuality, satisfaction, commitment, communal relationships,

and exchange relationships. A pilot survey using the instrument was conducted to see

how respondents perceived their relationships with five well-known organizations

(General Electric, the National Rifle Association, the Social Security Administration,

Microsoft, and the American Red Cross). Based upon the pilot's low response rate, the

researchers developed a shortened version of the instrument with only four indicators:

trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction. The study proved that the scales

used for all four relationship indicators were highly reliable.

All reliability coefficients were above .80 and many approached .90. Table 3-3

shows the values of Cronbach's alpha for these four indicators of relationships with five

organizations.



Table 3-3. Cronbach's alpha for four indicators of relationships with five organizations
National Mean
Relationship General ifle Social .Red ala
*. Rifle Microsoft alpha
indicator Electric Security Cross al
Assoc. value
Trust
6-item scale .86 .81 .89 .86 .86 .86
Control Mutuality
4-item scale .85 .85 .86 .86 .84 .85
Commitment
4-item scale .81 .89 .83 .82 .84 .84
Satisfaction
4-item scale .86 .89 .89 .88 .86 .88
*Source: Hon, L. C., & Grunig, J. E. (1999). Guidelines for Measuring Relatiosnhips in
Public Relations. Gainesville, FL: The Institute for Public Relations.










J. E. Grunig and Huang (summarized in Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) proved that

these scales, given their high reliability, were good measures of organization-public

relationships and that they could be used to measure strength of relationships in either

quantitative or qualitative research. J. E. Grunig and Huang suggested that the number

of instrument items chosen depends upon a researcher's needs. However, J. E. Grunig

and Huang advised that using the shorter index is likely to increase the completion rate.

Hence, our study adopts the shortest scales comprised of four relationship indicators. J.

E. Grunig and Huang (2000) have identified trust, control mutuality, relationship

commitment, and relationship satisfaction as the most important outcome factors in

organization-public relationships because they appear consistently in both organizational

and interpersonal communication literature. All of the relationship items used a 7-point

Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

In regards to predict brand attitude, probably the most widely used approach is

based on a multi-attribute formulation, in which brand attitudes are seen as a function of

the associated attributes and benefits that are salient for the brand (Keller, 1998). The

n
present study adopts Fishbein and Ajen's expectancy-value model (Ao = b e, ) as a


framework for predicting brand attitudes.

To measure brand attitude, the most frequently used multi-dimensional scale

(unfavorable-favorable, bad-good, dislike-like, and negative-positive) in the 1990s

Journal of Advertising was adopted (Woo, 2001). Studies in the 1990s using that multi-

dimensional scale reported high reliability coefficients of items, ranging from .84 to .97.









In regard to purchase intention, a three-item scale (unlikely/likely,

impossible/possible, and improbable/probable) was adapted from Mackenzie, Lutz, and

Belch (1986). Cronbach's alpha for these items was over .88. Machleit, Allen, and

Madden (1993) also used this scale and their coefficient alpha values were above .95.

The survey ended with a section of demographic questions such as gender, age,

and year in school.

Table 3-4 presents the operational definitions of all variables used in the present


study.


Table 3-4. Operationalization of variables
Variable Operational Definition
One party's level of confidence in and willingness to open oneself to
Trust
the other party (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999)
Conl m y The degree to which parties agree on who has rightful power to
Control mutuality 1
influence one another (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999)
The extent to which one party believes and feels that the relationship
Commitment is worth spending energy to maintain and promote (Hon & J. E.
Grunig, 1999)
The extent to which one party feels favorably toward the other
Satisfaction because positive expectations about the relationships are reinforced
(Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999)
A function of (1) beliefs about the attitude object, defined as the
Product-related subjective assumption that the attitude object has particular
attribute beliefs attributes, and (2) the importance of these beliefs, defined as the
importance of each attribute (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975)
Attitude toward the Consumers' overall evaluations of a brand (Wilkie, 1990)
Attitude toward the
b d Multi-item scales (unfavorable-favorable, bad-good, dislike-like,
and negative-positive) were used (Holbrook & Batra, 1987)
Consumers' tendency to act toward an object.
Purchase intention Multi-item scales (unlikely-likely, impossible-possible, and
improbable-probable) were used (Mackenzie, Lutz, & Belch,1986)

Independent Variables

Trust. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunig's (1999) definition of

trust as "one party's level of confidence in and willingness to open oneself to the other

party" (p. 14). Respondents were asked to indicate the degree of trust they had in Sony







40

on 7-point scales ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). A total of six

items, as used in Hon and J. E. Grunig's (1999) study, were employed to measure trust

(see Table 3-5).

Control mutuality. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunig's (1999)

definition of control mutuality as "the degree to which parties agree on who has rightful

power to influence one another" (p. 13). Control mutuality was measured with a four-

item sub-scale from Hon and J. E. Grunig's scale (1999). However, in the present study,

one reverse item was changed to the opposite meaning as to not confuse respondents (see

Table 3-5). Responses ranged from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

Commitment. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunig's (1999)

definition of commitment as "the extent to which one party believes and feels that the

relationship is worth spending energy to maintain and promote" (p. 14). Hon and J. E.

Grunig (1999) used a four-item scale to measure the commitment of the public to the

organization. To provide consistency, the present study measured commitment on the

same 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).

Satisfaction. The present study adopted Hon and J. E. Grunig's (1999) definition

of satisfaction as "the extent to which one party feels favorably toward the other because

positive expectations about the relationships are reinforced" (p. 14). Again, Hon and J.

E. Grunig (1999) used a four-item sub-scale to measure satisfaction. Accordingly, the

present study measured satisfaction using the same 7-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly

disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) on four items.

Product-relatedAttribute Beliefs. The present study adopted Fishbein and

Ajzen's (1975) expectancy-value model as a tool for predicting brand attitude.

According to Fishbein and Ajzen's expectancy-value model, beliefs, as causes of







41

attitudes are a function of (a) beliefs about the attitude object, defined as the subjective

probability that the attitude object has each attribute, and (b) the evaluative aspect of

these beliefs, defined as the evaluation of each attribute (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975).

Expectancy-value formulation is expressed algebraically as follows:


Ao = Yb,e,
1=1

where Ao is the attitude toward the object, action, or event, o; bi is the belief i about o

(expressed as the subjective probability that o has the attribute i); e, is the evaluation of

the attribute i; and n is the number of salient attributes (Eagly & Chaiken, 1993).

For example, if a person believes that a new car is visually appealing but lacks

safety features, these attributes will be represented by the subjective evaluation that the

car has those attributes (i.e., high probability of visual appeal and low probability of

safety features), as well as by the evaluation of each attribute (i.e., the positive evaluation

of visual appeal and safety features). In this example, a person may rate the above

attributes as follows: 5 for visual appeal and 3 for safety features on a 7-point scale

ranging from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely). Also, the person may

evaluate the above attributes as follows: 2 for visual appeal and 6 for safety features on a

7-point scale ranging from 1 (extremely bad) to 7 (extremely good). Thus, the person's

attitude toward the car can be predicted by multiplying his or her evaluation of each of

the attributes by the strength of his or her belief (5*2=10; 3*6=18) and then summing the

all salient beliefs for the total set of beliefs (10+18=28). In conclusion, it can be said that

the person's attitude toward the car is predicted to be slightly positive (in this example, 2

would be the lowest possible score, and 98 would be the highest).









However, unlike Fishbein's (1963) evaluative component of the expectancy-value

model, in the present study attribute evaluation was measured in terms of importance

borrowed from Galloway and Meek's (1981) research. Fishbein and Ajzen (1975) found

that the addition of the importance factor in the expectancy-value model did not improve,

but sometimes even attenuated the prediction of attitudes. That may be partially due to the

closeness of salient belief items included in the expectancy-value model and important

belief items (Cai, 2001). The present study measures laptop-related attributes, which will

vary by user preference and purpose of usage. Hence, some attributes may be salient to

certain users, but not at all to others. Therefore, the importance factor can be more

valuable than the good-bad factor in predicting brand attitude in the present study.

The salient attributes of Sony computers were determined by a free-elicitation

technique recommended by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), and a pretest was conducted for

that purpose. Product-related attribute beliefs were measured by asking respondents how

likely they will have certain attributes in a Sony VAIO laptop computer on a 7-point

measurement scale ranged from 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely). The

importance of the attributes was measured by asking respondents to evaluate each of them.

While Fishbein's evaluation scale ranges from -4 (bad) to 4 (good), the present study used

the importance scale from 1 (extremely unimportant) to 7 (extremely important). Finally,

to predict brand attitude, product-related attribute beliefs were multiplied by the importance

of each of the salient attributes, and these values were summed.









Table 3-5. Items measuring independent variables
Trust (6-item scale)
Sony treats me fairly and justly as a customer.
Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know they will be concerned about me as a
customer.
Sony can be relied on to keep its promises to me as a customer.
I believe that Sony takes my opinions into account as a customer when making decisions.
I feel very confident about Sony's skills.
Sony has the ability to accomplish what it says it will do.
Control mutuality (4-item scale)
Sony and I pay attention to what each other communicate.
Sony believes my opinions as a customer are legitimate.
In dealing with customers like me, Sony does not have a tendency to throw its weight around.
Sony really listens to what I have to say as a customer.
Commitment (4-item scale)
I feel that Sony is trying to maintain a long-term commitment with me as a customer.
Sony wants to maintain a relationship with me as a customer.
There is a long-term bond between Sony and me as a customer.
Compared to other companies, I value my relationship with Sony more.
Satisfaction (4-item scale)
I am happy with Sony.
Both Sony and I benefit from our relationship.
I am happy with my interactions with Sony.
Generally speaking, I am pleased with the relationship Sony has established with me.
Beliefs of the Salient Attributes
Longer/Better warranty (including technical service)
Better customer service (not including technical service)
Nicer looking design/appearance
Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive)
More portable
Importance of the salient attributes
Longer/Better warranty (including technical service)
Better customer service (not including technical service)
Nicer looking design/appearance
Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive)
More portable

Dependent Variables

Attitude toward the brand (Ab). Brand attitude has been one of the most widely

examined constructs in consumer behavior (Berger & Mitchell, 1989). The present study

adopts Wilkie's (1990) conceptualization and defines attitude toward the brand as

consumers' overall evaluations of a brand. In the present study, attitude toward the brand







44

was measured by four-items using a 7-point scale (see Table 3-6). The scales

(unfavorable-favorable, bad-good, dislike-like, and negative-positive) were borrowed

from prior research by Holbrook and Batra (1987). Their reliability coefficient alpha for

these items was .98, suggesting the brand attitude measure had extremely high internal

consistency. In addition, thirteen advertising studies that used the same multi-item scales

reported Cronbach's alphas ranging from .84 to .97 (Woo, 2001).



Table 3-6. Items measuring dependent variables
Attitude toward the brand (4-item scale)
Unfavorable/Favorable
Bad/Good
Dislike/Like
Negative/Positive
Purchase intention (3-item scale)
Unlikely/Likely
Impossible/Possible
Improbable/Probable


Purchase intention (PI). In the present study, purchase intention is defined as

consumers' tendency to act toward an object. Purchase intention was measured with a

three-item scale adapted from Mackenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986) (see Table 3-6). They

suggested that a Dual Mediation Hypothesis (DMH), which postulates that attitude

toward the advertising influences brand attitude both directly and indirectly through its

effect on brand cognitions, is superior to other three models under particular conditions

in the pretest stage. The DMH was developed in research dealing with attitude toward

the brand and affective motivation. The results represented accurately the

interrelationships among brand and ad cognitions and purchase intention (Mackenzie,

Lutz, & Belch, 1986).







45

Respondents were asked, "What is the probability that you will try this brand

when it becomes available in your area?" In each case, they chose from the following

responses: unlikely/likely, impossible/possible, and improbable/probable. Mackenzie,

Lutz, and Belch (1986) obtained a Cronbach's alpha coefficient of over .88 for these

items.

In conclusion, the present study adopts the shortest scales for the four most

important dimensions of Hon and J. E. Grunig (1999)'s relationship measurement scales.

All relationship items were measured on 7-point Likert scales ranging from 1 (strongly

disagree) to 7 (strongly agree). In addition to relationship theory, the present study uses

the expectancy-value model to measure the effects of product-related attribute beliefs on

brand attitude. However, instead of Fishbien's (1963) evaluative component of the

expectancy-value model, the importance component of the salient attributes was used. In

addition, reliable multi-item scales of brand attitude and purchase intention were used.

Data Analysis

The data were analyzed using Pearson's correlations, multiple regression

analysis, and path analysis.

Pearson's correlations were run before conducting multiple regression analysis in

order to determine any significant relationships among the variables in this study.

Multiple regression analysis was used to measure the effect of each indicator of OPRs

and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand. The general purpose of

multiple regression is to learn more about the relationship between several independent or

predictor variables and a dependent or criterion variable. Multiple regression procedures

are widely used in social science research, because they allow the researcher to answer

the question, "What is the best predictor of...?" Using multiple regression, the present







46

study investigates whether the dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs

are significantly related to brand attitude and purchase intention via the brand attitude,

and whether brand attitude determines purchase intention.

In addition, using path analysis, the present study measures the causal

relationships between (1) each indicator of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs and

(2) purchase intention via brand attitude. Path analysis is an extension of the regression

model, used to test the fit of the correlation matrix against two or more causal models

which are being compared by the researcher (Garson, 2003). Path analysis utilizes as

many regression models as necessary to include all hypothesized relationships in the

theoretical explanation.














CHAPTER 4
FINDINGS

Overview of the Statistical Analysis

In order to analyze the data collected for the present study, the SPSS program was

used. The data set contained a total of 178 cases. This chapter consists of three sections.

First, descriptive statistics about the present study respondents are discussed. Second, the

research questions and hypotheses are addressed, using Pearson correlation and

regression analyses (simple regression, multiple regression, and hierarchical regression).

Finally, the results of the path analysis, performed to measure the causal relationships

between (1) each indicator of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs and (2) purchase

intention via brand attitude, are presented.

Profile of the Sample

All respondents used for analysis in the present study were college students at the

University of Florida. Of the 178 total respondents, 95 (53.4%) were males and 83

(46.6%) were females (see Table 4-1). Most of them were undergraduate students

(81.5%), and the remainder were graduate students. In terms of academic classification,

16 respondents (9.0%) were freshmen, 34 (19.1%) were sophomores, 40 (22.5%) were

juniors, 55 (30.9%) were seniors, and 33 (18.5%) were graduate students. Respondents'

age ranged from 18 to 40. However, over 90% of respondents were in the 18-25 age

group. The mean age was 21.76 years old.%







48

Table 4-1. Demographic profile of the respondents
Frequency Valid Percent
Gender
Males 95 53.4
Females 83 46.6
Total 178 100
Age
18 25 162 91.0
26 -35 14 7.87
Over 35 2 1.12
Total 178 100
Education Level
Freshmen 16 9.0
Sophomores 34 19.1
Juniors 40 22.5
Seniors 55 30.9
Graduate students 33 18.5
Total 178 100

Relationship Assessment-Familiarity

In the survey, respondents were asked how familiar they were with the company

Sony, Sony's products in general, and Sony VAIO desktop or laptop computers. To

make sure that they are customers of, and had established relationships with Sony, the

respondents should be at least somewhat familiar with the company and its products.

The results showed that the students in the sample fit the present study as

customers of Sony. Table 4-2 presents the respondents' familiarity with Sony, Sony's

products and Sony VAIO computers. In terms of familiarity with the company Sony, 46

students (25.8%) were somewhat familiar, 66 students (37.1%) were familiar, and 66

students (37.1%) were very familiar (see Table 4-2). When it came to familiarity with

Sony products in general, 53 students (29.8%) were somewhat familiar, 80 students

(44.9%) were familiar, and 45 students (25.3%) were very familiar (see Table 4-2).

Familiarity with the company Sony and Sony's products in general indicates the

existence of a relationship with Sony.







49

Respondents were also asked whether they had purchased Sony products before

to see if they were customers of Sony. All respondents had purchased Sony products

before.

Regarding familiarity with Sony VAIO computers, 79 students (44.4%) were not

familiar at all, 54 students (30.3%) were somewhat familiar, 34 students (19.1%) were

familiar, and 11 students (6.2%) were very familiar (see Table 4-2).

In terms of computer ownership, 149 students (83.7%) had computers, while 29

students (16.3%) did not own a computer. Since no respondent in the sample had a Sony

VAIO computer, the present study assumed that the respondents did not have prior

attitudes toward Sony VAIO laptop computers



Table 4-2. Responses indicating familiarity with Sony, Sony's products and Sony VAIO
computers
Familiarity with Familiarity with the Familiarity with
Familiarity with
Sc Sony's products in Sony VAIO desktop
the company Sony
general or laptop computers
M 3.11 2.96 1.87
SD .79 .74 .93
Not familiar at all ------- ------- 79 (44.4%)
Somewhat familiar 46 (25.8%) 53 (29.8%) 54 (30.3%)
Familiar 66(37.1%) 80(44.9%) 34(19.1%)
Very familiar 66(37.1%) 45 (25.3%) 11 (6.2)
Total 178 (100%) 178 (100%) 178 (100%)
Note: Each item was measured on 4-point Likert-scales.


Descriptions of the Variables

A summary of the general findings of the variables in the present study is shown

in Table 4-3. As mentioned in the previous chapter, all the items in the present study

were 7-point, semantic differential scales.







50

Organization-Public Relationships (OPRs)

Eighteen items were used to measure organization-public relationships, of which

six were measures of trust, four were measures of control mutuality, four were measures

of commitment, and four were measures of satisfaction. The mean score for trust in Sony

was 4.70, for control mutuality 4.22, for commitment4.24, and for satisfaction 4.68.

Trust received the highest mean score while control mutuality received the lowest (see

Table 4-3).

Beliefs and Importance of Salient Attributes

The mean score of beliefs about salient attributes was 5.22 (see Table 4-3). Of

the five salient attributes, the respondents rated "more portable" as the attribute most

likely to find in a Sony laptop computer, and "nicer looking design/appearance" as the

attribute least likely to find in a Sony laptop computer. In terms of importance of the

salient attributes, the respondents rated "better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and

DVD drive)" as the most important attribute, and "nicer looking design/appearance" as

the least important attribute. The mean score of the five items of importance of the

salient attributes was 5.65, which was higher than the mean score of the beliefs about the

salient attributes (see Table 4-3).

Attitude toward the Brand

The respondents were asked, "What is your attitude toward the Sony VAIO laptop

computer?" They answered on four semantic differential scales regarding the following

items: unfavorable/favorable, bad/good, dislike/like, and negative/positive. The mean

score of the four items measuring attitude toward the brand was 4.82 (see Table 4-3).









Purchase Intention

The respondents rated their intent to buy a Sony VAIO laptop computer the

lowest of all variables measured in the present study. The mean score of the three items

of purchase intention was 3.62 on a 7-point semantic differential scale.


Table 4-3. Descriptive statistics of each variable


Trust
Sony treats me fairly and justly as a customer.
Whenever Sony makes an important decision, I know
they will be concerned about me as a customer.
Sony can be relied on to keep its promises to me as a
customer.
I believe that Sony takes my opinions into account as a
customer when making decisions.
I feel very confident about Sony's skills.
Sony has the ability to accomplish what it says it will
do.
Category mean
Control mutuality
Sony and I pay attention to what each other
communicate.
Sony believes my opinions as a customer are
legitimate.
In dealing with customers like me, Sony does not have
a tendency to throw its weight around.
Sony really listens to what I have to say as a customer.
Category mean
Commitment
I feel that Sony is trying to maintain a long-term
commitment with me as a customer.
Sony wants to maintain a relationship with me as a
customer.
There is a long-term bond between Sony and me as a
customer.
Compared to other companies, I value my relationship
with Sony more.
Category mean
Satisfaction
I am happy with Sony.
Both Sony and I benefit from our relationship.


Number
of items
6


M SD


178 4.57 1.11
178 4.18 1.21

178 4.56 1.26

176 4.51 1.25
178 5.31 1.24
178 5.17 1.16
4.70 .97


176 4.02 1.47

176 4.39 1.23


174 4.26
175 4.21
4.22


1.21
1.26
1.10


175 4.45 1.47

175 4.69 1.41

176 3.97 1.61

177 3.88 1.70
4.24 1.34


177 4.90
176 4.55


1.37
1.40









Table 4-3. Continued


Number
of items


M SD


I am happy with my interactions with Sony. 176 4.69 1.20
Generally speaking, I am pleased with the relationship 176 4.61 1.27
Sony has established with me.
Category mean 4.68 1.20
Beliefs about salient attributes 5
Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) 178 5.08 1.36
Better customer service (not including technical 178 4.92 1.31
service)
Nicer looking design/appearance 177 5.29 1.32
Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD 177 5.40 1.33
drive)
More portable 177 5.41 1.32
Category mean 5.22 1.07
Importance of the attributes 5
Longer/Better warranty (including technical service) 178 5.83 1.36
Better customer service (not including technical 178 5.63 1.38
service)
Nicer looking design/appearance 178 4.98 1.49
Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD 178 6.12 1.17
178 6.12 1.17
drive)
More portable 178 5.67 1.31
Category mean 5.65 .95
Attitude toward the brand 4
Unfavorable/Favorable 176 4.82 1.36
Bad/Good 174 4.75 1.32
Dislike/Like 173 4.83 1.25
Negative/Positive 175 4.88 1.26
Category mean 4.82 1.18
Purchase intention 3
Unlikely/Likely 176 3.20 1.90
Impossible/Possible 175 4.06 1.69
Improbably/Probable 175 3.62 1.79
Category mean 3.62 1.67

Reliability Checks

For the integration of items, the present study averaged the value of all items for

each variable. As a prerequisite for averaging, the items within each variable should have

a high internal reliability; thus, Cronbach's alpha was computed. Alpha is a coefficient

that indicates how well the items measuring the same characteristic correlate with one







53

another (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999). Generally, reliability coefficients over .90 are

considered "excellent," over .80 "very good," and values over .70 are "adequate" (Kline,

1998). Table 4-4 shows that Cronbach's alpha of each scale exceeded .75, which means

that all scales can be used statistically in the present study.



Table 4-4. Cronbach's alpha of variables
Variable Cronbach's Alpha
Trust .90
Control mutuality .87
Commitment .89
Satisfaction .93
Beliefs of the salient attributes .86
Importance of the salient attribute .75
Attitude toward the brand .93
Purchase intention .92

Particularly, the reliability coefficients obtained were higher than those found in J.

E. Grunig and Huang's (summarized in Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999) research that

originated the scales used here. As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Maryland

study produced highly reliable scales for all the relationship indicators. The reliability

coefficient of trust was .90, which was higher than .86 of the Maryland research. The

reliability coefficient of control mutuality was .87, which was higher than .85 of the

Maryland research. Regarding commitment, its reliability coefficient was .89, which was

higher than .84 of the Maryland research. The reliability coefficient of satisfaction was

.93, which was also higher than .88 of the Maryland research. In terms of attitude toward

the brand, its reliability coefficient was .93, which could fall into the range from .84 to

.97 of the same multi-item scale for brand attitude in the 1990's Journal ofAdvertising.







54

The reliability coefficient of purchase intention was .92, which was higher than

Mackenzie, Lutz, and Belch (1986)'s Cronbach's alpha of the same multi-items.

Based on these results, the present study averaged the values of items for each

variable. However, based on expectancy-value model, product-related attribute beliefs

were multiplied by the importance of each of the salient attributes, and these values were

summed.

Research Questions and Hypotheses Testing

Test of Research Question 1

RQ1: How are the four dimensions of organization-public relationships-trust,
control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction-related to attitude toward the
brand?

Before conducting a multiple regression analysis, Pearson correlations were run in

order to determine any significant relationships between each of the dimensions of

organization-public relations with attitude toward the brand. Pearson's r is a measure of

association which varies from -1 to +1, with 0 indicating no linear relationship and -/+1

indicating a perfect negative/positive linear relationship (Garson, 2003). Table 4-5 shows

that all variables measuring dimensions of OPRs correlated with brand attitude. All

correlations were statistically significant at the level of 0.01. The resulting Pearson's r

ranged from .251 to .803 (see Table 4-5).

Trust correlated most strongly with control mutuality (r=.775, p<.001) and the

least with brand attitude, although r was still significant (r=.251, p<.001). Control

mutuality correlated most strongly with commitment (r=.784, p<.001), while

commitment correlated most strongly with satisfaction (r=.803, p<.001). Satisfaction

correlated most strongly with trust (r=.706, p=.001). Of all variables, brand attitude as







55

the dependent variable generated the weakest correlations, yet still significant, with its

predictor variables (see Table 4-5).

In brief, these correlation results showed that (1) the four dimensions of OPRs

were significantly related to attitude toward the brand, partially confirming the theoretical

assumption of the relationship between OPRs and attitude toward the brand, and (2) the

four dimensions of OPR were strongly associated with one another, indicating that there

might be high multicollinearity among the four dimensions of OPRs in explaining the

variance of attitude toward the brand.



Table 4-5. Correlations of the dimensions of OPRs and attitude toward the brand
Control Brand
Trust Commitment Satisfaction a
mutuality attitude
Trust 1.00
Control
uti .775** 1.00
mutuality
Commitment .731** .784** 1.00

Satisfaction .706** .709** .803** 1.00
Brand
Brand .251** .302** .300** .367** 1.00
attitude
Note: **. P< .01 (2-tailed).

A multiple regression of brand attitude including all four dimensions of

organization-public relationship was performed. As shown in Table 4-6, the equation is

statistically significant (F=6.274, p<.001), and 13.6% of the variance in brand attitude is

explained statistically by the four dimensions of OPRs. Of the four independent variables,

only satisfaction predicted significantly the attitude toward the brand (8=.358, p<.05).

This result implied that there were possible multicollinearity problems. Such problems

occur when any single independent variable is highly correlated with a set of other

independent variables (Hair et al. 1998).







56

To assess multivariate multicollinearity, partial correlations were tested in the

present study. The partial correlation relates directly to the bivariate Pearson correlations

between each pair of variables controlling for the rest of variables (Agresti & Finlay,

1997). As shown in Table 4-6, compared to Pearson correlation values, partial

correlations of trust, control mutuality, and commitment with attitude toward the brand

showed very different values except for satisfaction. Particularly, both trust and

commitment had negative partial correlation values. Therefore, multicollinearity possibly

caused the result of this multiple regression model.



Table 4-6. Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with trust, control
mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction as independent variables
Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand
Unstandardized Standardized
Correlations
Variables Coefficients Coefficients t Sig.
B SE Beta zero-order partial
Trust -.129 .152 -.108 -.849 .397 .239 -.067
Control mutuality .166 .144 .160 1.158 .248 .297 .091
Commitment -4.072E-02 .125 -.047 -.327 .744 .289 -.026
Satisfaction .347 .129 .358 2.702 .008 .358 .210
R2= .136
Adjusted R2= .115
F-ratio= 6.274 (p<.001)
Note: *p<.05

In conclusion, the results showed that generally OPRs were significantly related

to attitude toward the brand. However, high correlations among the four dimensions of

OPRs do not allow for more exact interpretations regarding the effects of individual

dimensions on attitude toward the brand.

Test of Hypothesis 1

HI: Product-related attribute beliefs are related to attitude toward the brand.







57

Before conducting regression analysis, Pearson's correlations were run to

determine if significant relationships existed between each of the product-related attribute

beliefs and brand attitude. As shown in Table 4-7, all product-related attribute beliefs

correlated with attitude toward the brand and the correlations were statistically significant

at the level of 0.01. The resulting Pearson's r ranged from .293 to .733. The correlation

between longer/better warranty (including technical service) and better customer service

(not including technical service) was the highest (r=.733,p<.001). In terms of the

correlations between each of the product-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude,

"nicer looking design/appearance" had the highest Pearson's r (r=.339,p<.001), "better

quality of components" had the second highest Pearson's r (r=.333, p<.001),

"longer/better warranty (including technical service)" ranked third (r=.323, p<.001),

"more portable" ranked fourth (r=.293, p<.001), and "better customer service (not

including technical service)" had the lowest Pearson's r (r=.310, p<.001).

In addition to the regression analysis of attitude toward brand with each of the

five product-related attribute beliefs as independent variables, a regression analysis of

attitude toward the brand with the sum of product-related attribute beliefs as one

independent variable was conducted. As shown in Table 4-7, the correlations between

each of the product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand were relatively

high, yet statistically significant.









Table 4-7. Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the
brand
Brand
Attributed Attribute2 Attirubute3 Attirbute4 Attirbute5 ran
attitude
Attribute 1.00
Attribute2 .733** 1.00
Attribute3 .545** .555** 1.00
Attirbute4 .616** .574** .554** 1.00
Attirbute5 .395** .388** .444** .661** 1.00
Brand
rand .323** .310* .339** .333** .293** 1.00
attitude
Note:
Attribute 1: Longer/Better warranty (including technical service)
Attirbute2: Better customer service (not including technical service)
Attirbute3: Nicer looking design/appearance
Attirbute4: Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive)
Attirbute5: More portable
**P< 0.01


Table 4-8. Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with each of the
product-related attribute beliefs
Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand
Unstandardized Standardized
Variables Coefficients Coefficients t Sig.
B SE Beta
Attributel 1.013E-02 .011 .101 .909 .364
Attribute2 6.731E-03 .011 .065 .591 .556
Attribute3 1.533E-02 .009 .160 1.740 .084
Attribute4 7.796E-03 .012 .072 .638 .525
AttributeS 1.136E-02 .010 .111 1.168 .244
R2= .164
Adjusted R2= .139
F-ratio= 6.537 (p<.001)


Note:
Attribute 1: Longer/Better warranty (including technical service)
Attribute2: Better customer service (not including technical service)
Attribute3: Nicer looking design/appearance
Attribute4: Better quality of components (e.g. CD-ROM and DVD drive)
AttributeS: More portable









The results of multiple regression analysis presented in Table 4-8 suggests that

none of the product-related attribute beliefs were significant predictors of brand attitude.

Only "nicer looking design/appearance" somewhat approached the significance level

(p<.084).

Based on the fact that all of the product-related attribute beliefs were highly

correlated with one another, the present study summed them up, thus creating an overall

measure of product-related attribute beliefs. According to the expectancy-valued model,

a person's attitude toward an object can be predicted by multiplying the evaluation of

each of the attributes by beliefs about the object, and then summing each of the attribute

beliefs for the total set of beliefs (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). Therefore, summing up all of

the product-related attribute beliefs was justified by Ajzen and Fishbein's theory. Table

4-9 indicates that product-related attribute beliefs correlated relatively strongly and

significantly with attitude toward the brand (r=.402, p<.001).



Table 4-9. Correlations between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the
brand
Product-related
rut releAttitude toward the brand
attributes beliefs
Product-related
1.00
attribute beliefs
Attitude toward the brand .402** 1.00
Note: **p<.01

The results in Table 4-10 confirmed that product-related attribute beliefs

explained statistically 16.2% of variance in attitude toward the brand.









Table 4-10. Regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with product-related
attribute beliefs
Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand
Unstandardized Standardized
Variables Coefficients Coefficients t Sig
B SE Beta
Product-related
1.029E-02 .002 .402 5.741 .000
attribute beliefs
R2 .162
Adjusted R2 = .157
F-ratio= 32.960 (p<.001)

When the two regression equations using individual product-related attribute

beliefs and the integrated product-related attribute beliefs are compared with each other,

it can be noticed that the adjusted R2 was improved in the second case from .139 to .157,

while R2 stayed almost the same. Considering the high correlations among individual

product-related attribute beliefs, it appears more appropriate to use the total product-

related attribute beliefs to predict brand attitude.

Test of Research Question 2

RQ2: Are there any significant differences between the impact of organization-
public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the
brand?

Based on the results to research question 1, of the four dimensions of OPRs,

satisfaction was the only significant predictor. Concerning hypothesis 1, product-related

attribute beliefs significantly predicted attitude toward the brand. In order to examine the

relative importance of all possible independent variables for predicting attitude toward the

brand, a multiple analysis of attitude toward the brand including all independent variables

was conducted.







61

Table 4-11. Multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with the dimensions
of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs
Dependent variable: Attitude toward the brand
Unstandardized Standardized
Variables Coefficients Coefficients t Sig.
B SE Beta
Trust -.144 .147 -.120 -.980 .329
Control mutuality 8.531E-02 .140 .082 .608 .544
Commitment -2.337E-02 .120 -.027 -.194 .846
Satisfaction .267 .126 .275* 2.118 .036
Product-related
r elef 7.297E-03 .002 .295** 3.637 .000
attribute beliefs
R2= .203
Adjusted R2= .178
F-ratio= 8.050 (p<.001)
Note: *p<.05, **p< 0.01

Table 4-11 demonstrates that this equation was significant (F=8.050, p<.001), with

20.3% of the variance in attitude toward the brand explained statistically by the dimensions

of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs. Of all independent variables, only

satisfaction (3=.275,p<.05) and product-related attribute beliefs (8=.295,p<.001)

significantly predicted attitude toward the brand.

However, the results of multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand

with independent variables were insufficient to answer research question 2. To ascertain

the predictive power of two different sets of independent variables (the dimensions of

OPRs on one hand, and product-related attribute beliefs on the other) on attitude toward the

brand, a hierarchical regression analysis was needed.

When using a hierarchical regression, the researcher, not the computer, determines

the order of entry of the variables. F-tests are used to compute the significance of each

added variable or set of variables to the explanation reflected in R2 (Garson, 2003). The F-

test is used to test the significance of the regression model as a whole, with F being a

function of R2, the number of independent variables, and the number of cases (Garson,









2003). This hierarchical procedure is an alternative to comparing betas for the purpose of

examining the importance of different independent variables (Garson, 2003).

Hence, two hierarchical regressions were conducted to examine whether the

dimensions of OPRs or product-related attribute beliefs better explained attitude toward the

brand. In other words, hierarchical regressions were performed to investigate whether or

not the effect of OPRs on brand attitude as an exploratory attempt and the expectancy-

value model worked.

In the first regression model, which represents a test of the variance in brand

attitude explained by OPRs, product-related attribute beliefs were entered in Step 1 of the

analysis, and the dimensions of OPRs were entered in Step 2.

As indicated in Table 4-12, product-related attribute beliefs explained 15.7% of

variance in attitude toward the brand (8=.396,p<.001). When the dimensions of OPRs

were entered in Step 2 of the analysis, an additional 4.6 % of variance was explained.

However, the increase in R2 by adding the dimensions of OPRs in Step 2 was not

statistically significant at the .05 level.



Table 4-12. Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to
examine the predictive power of OPRs
Model R2 R2 Change F change Sig of F
1 .157 .157 30.075 .000
2 .203 .046 2.302 .061
Note: Model 1: Independent variable: Product-related attribute beliefs
Model 2: Independent variables: Product-related attribute beliefs and OPRs

In a second hierarchical analysis, the dimensions of OPRs were entered in Step 1

of the regression analysis, and product-related attribute beliefs were entered in Step 2 to

check for the predictive power of product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude. After

Step 1 of the regression analysis, the dimensions of OPRs explained 13.6% of variance in







63

attitude toward the brand (see Table 4-13). Step 2 of the regression analysis produced an

increase in the variance by 6.7% showing a significance of association with attitude toward

the brand at the .01 level.



Table 4-13. Hierarchical regression analysis predicting attitude toward the brand to
examine the predictive power of product-related attribute beliefs
Model R2 R2 Change F change Sig of F
1 .136 .136 6.274 .000
2 .203 .067 13.226 .000
Note: Model 1: Independent variable: OPRs
Model 2: Independent variables: OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs

In brief, when the dimensions of OPRs were entered in Step 2 of the first

hierarchical regression analysis, an additional 4.6% of variance was explained, but the

result was not significant. On the other hand, when the product-related attribute beliefs

were entered in Step 2 of the second hierarchical regression analysis, the percent of

variance increased by 6.7, significant at the .01 level. Therefore, it appears that beliefs

about product-related attributes are a better predictor of attitude toward the brand than the

dimensions of OPRs.

Test of Hypothesis 2

H2: Attitude toward the brand is positively related to purchase intention.

Table 4-14 indicates that attitude toward the brand correlated strongly and

significantly with purchase intention (r=.510, p<.001).



Table 4-14. Correlation between attitude toward the brand and purchase intention
Attitude toward the brand Purchase intention
Attitude toward the brand 1.00
Purchase intention .510** 1.00
Note: **p<.01







64

A regression analysis was conducted for the purchase intention predicted by

attitude toward the brand. According to Table 4-15, 26.1% of variance in purchase

intention was explained by attitude toward the brand.



Table 4-15. Regression analysis of purchase intention with attitude toward the brand
Dependent variable: Purchase intention
Unstandardized Standardized
Variables Coefficients Coefficients
B SE Beta
Attitude toward the
.720 .093 .510 7.739 .000
brand
R2= .261
Adjusted R2= .256
F-ratio: 59.892 (p<.001)

Path Analysis

As J. E. Grunig (1993) argued, for public relations to be valued in organizations,

public relations practitioners have to demonstrate that their efforts contribute to

organizational goals by building long-term behavioral relationships with publics. Also,

Ledingham and Bruning (2000) concluded that relationship dimension ratings could be

used to predict the behavior of public members. Based on the notion that organizations

must involve in behavioral initiatives to manage the organization-public relationships, the

present study attempts to explore the causal relationships between each dimension of

OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs and purchase intention via brand attitude using

path analysis.

Path analysis is a statistical procedure consisting of a series of regression

analyses. However, there are advantages to using the path analysis approach. The key

advantage is that the researcher can demonstrate causal relationships between variables,







65

and this in turn clarifies and strengthens theories of relationships among variables

(Agresti & Finlay, 1997).

Figure 4-1 proposes a model with two dependent variables: attitude toward the

brand; and purchase intention. The present study does not assume that the four

dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs have a direct effect on purchase

intention. Rather, the present study suggested that attitude toward the brand would be a

mediating variable for predicting purchase intention.


Trust



Control mutuality


Brand attitude Purchase intention
Commitment



Satisfaction


Product-related
attribute beliefs

Figure 4-1. Target path model

Therefore, path analysis was performed to measure the causal relationships

between each dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs, and purchase

intention via brand attitude. A path coefficient is a standardized regression coefficient

(beta) showing the direct effect of an independent variable on a dependent variable in the

path model. Thus, when the model contains two or more causal variables, path

coefficients are partial regression coefficients which measure the effect of one variable on







66

another in the path model controlling for all other variables, using standardized data or a

correlation matrix as input (Garson, 2003).

For path analysis, as shown in Table 4-16 two multiple regression analyses were

conducted to generate path coefficients.



Table 4-16. Regressions to generate path coefficients
Regression coefficients
Dependent variables Independent Unstandardizeda Standardized R2
variables
1. Brand attitude Trust -.144 (.147) -.120 .203**
Control mutuality 8.531E-02 (.140) .082
Commitment -2.337E-02 (.120) -.027
Satisfaction .267 (.126)* .275
Product 7.297E-03 (.002)** .295

2. Purchase intention Trust -8.850E-03 (.202) -.005 .297**
Control mutuality .200 (.193) .132
Commitment 9.690E-02 (.165) .077
Satisfaction -6.441E-02 (.175) -.046
Product 3.277E-03 (.003) .091
Brand attitude .620** .428
aThe values in parentheses are standard errors.
*p<.05; **p<.01.

A total of two multiple regressions were conducted to generate estimates of

direct effects. The first regression model included the dimensions of OPRs and product-

related attributes beliefs as independent variables and brand attitude as the dependent

variable. Here brand attitude was predicted to improve by .275 standard deviations given

a change in satisfaction of one standard deviation, all other variables held constant.

Similarly, brand attitude was expected to improve by .295 standard deviations if product-

related attribute beliefs increased by one standard deviation, and controlling for other

independent variables included in the model.









The second regression analysis was performed with the dimensions of OPRs,

product-related attribute beliefs, and attitude toward the brand as independent variables

and purchase intention as a dependent variable. The standardized path coefficient for the

direct effect of brand attitude on purchase intention was .428. This means that purchase

intention could improve by .428 standard deviations given a change in brand attitude of

one standard deviation. Figure 4-2 shows the path diagram of relationships and

coefficients between the independent and dependent variables.


Figure 4-2. Path diagram of relationships between independent and dependent variables

Figure 4-2 practically supports the suggested target model. The satisfaction

dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs were significantly related to

brand attitude. Also, brand attitude was significantly related to purchase intention. In

addition, all direct relationships between the independent variables (OPRs and product-







68

related attributes beliefs) and purchase intention as a dependent variable were proven to

be statistically insignificant.

Table 4-17 summarizes the direct, indirect, and total causal effects of

independent variables on the dependent variables. Only three paths, all direct, are

statistically significant: from satisfaction to attitude toward the brand (.275), from

product-related attribute beliefs to brand attitude (.295), and from brand attitude to

purchase intention (.428).



Table 4-17. Summary of standardized effects of the path model
Dependent variables
Independent variable Brand attitude (Ab) Purchase intention (PI)
Trust
Direct effect -.120 -.005
Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------- -.051
Total effect -.120 -.056
Control mutuality
Direct effect .082 .132
Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------- .035
Total effect .082 .167
Commitment
Direct effect -.027 .077
Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------- -.012
Total effect -.027 .065
Satisfaction
Direct effect .275* -.046
Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------- .118
Total effect .275* .072
Product-related attributes beliefs
Direct effect .295** .091
Indirect effect via Brand attitude ------- .126
Total effect .295** .217
Brand attitude
Direct effect ------- .428**
Indirect effect via Brand attitude --- ---
Total effect ------- .428**

Therefore, as shown in Figure 4-3 below, the final model proposed in the present

study has two independent variables, satisfaction and product-related attribute beliefs.



















Figure 4-3. The final parsimonious model

Based upon path analysis results, the present study eliminated insignificant paths

from the diagram and again performed the appropriate analyses to re-estimate the path

coefficients (see Figure 4-3). In order to confirm the final parsimonious model, another

two multiple regressions were performed to generate estimates of direct effects. The first

analysis used satisfaction and product-related attribute beliefs as independent

variables and brand attitude as the dependent variable. Table 4-18 indicates that brand

attitude was predicted to improve by .232 standard deviations for every one standard

deviation change in the level of satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs being held

constant. Also, brand attitude was expected to improve by .301 standard deviations given

a change in product-related attribute beliefs of one standard deviation, and controlling for

satisfaction.



Table 4-18. Regressions to generate path coefficients
Regression coefficients
Dependent variables Independent Unstandardizeda Standardized R2
variables
1. Brand attitude Satisfaction .229 (.076)* .232 .207**
Product 7.622E-03 (.002)** .301

2. Purchase intention Satisfaction .132 (.106) .094 .290**
Product 4.309E-03 (.003) .003
Brand attitude .612 (.105)** .105
aThe values in parentheses are standard errors.
*p<.05; **p<.01.







70

The second regression analysis contained satisfaction, product-related attribute

beliefs, and brand attitude as independent variables and purchase intention as dependent

variable. The standardized path coefficient for the direct effect of brand attitude upon

purchase intention was .105. Figure 4-4 shows the path diagram of relationships between

satisfaction, product-related attribute beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention. This

parsimonious model with three paths yields significant path coefficients.

.094
- - - - - - - - - - -




-----------
Satisfaction .232*

.105** Purchase
Brand attitude intention
Product-related .301** -
attribute beliefs

-"-----"_ .003 .-- "


Figure 4-4. Path diagram of relationships among satisfaction, product-related attribute
beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention

This parsimonious model suggests that relational satisfaction is a critical factor

for predicting attitude toward the brand. In other words, publics are expected to be

positive toward the brand offered by an organization when they feel satisfaction with that

organization. Also, this parsimonious model confirms that attitude toward the brand is

influenced by the total set of beliefs about salient attributes of a product. Finally, this

model verified the causal relationship of attitudinal-behavioral patterns proven by much

research in advertising.














CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION

The present study represents an innovative empirical examination of the effects of

organization-public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on brand attitude

and purchase intention via brand attitude.

As public relations scholars have emphasized, demonstrating the value of OPRs

is of great significance given the importance of building a successful relationship

between an organization and its publics (Hon & J. E. Grunig, 1999; Ledingham &

Bruning, 1998; Lindenmann, 1999; Huang, 2001). In today's highly competitive

marketplace, branding is considered a crucial tool to attract and keep customers by

promoting value, image, prestige, or lifestyle. Marken (2001) stressed the importance of

branding as an indicator of how customers feel about an organization, the relationship

with it, and the organization's products. A. Ries and L. Ries (2002) suggested that public

relations can create new brands through publicity and the resulting word of mouth.

However, no previous research has examined the link between organization-public

relationships and branding from a public relations perspective.

As such, the main objective of the present study was to explore whether attitude

toward the brand can be explained by organization-public relationships compared to

product-related attribute beliefs. Also, the present study tested whether OPRs and

product-related attribute beliefs can affect purchase intention via brand attitude. In

addition, the present study verified for causal relations between attitude toward the brand









and purchase intention. As a theoretical framework, the relationship theory and the

expectancy-value model were used.

One important finding of the present study is the empirical validation of the

relationship between OPRs and attitude toward the brand. That is, the customer's

perception of their relationship with a company can greatly influence his or her attitude

toward the brand offered by that company. Even when customers are unfamiliar with

specific attributes of a product, they are likely to form an attitude toward that brand based

upon their relationships with the company producing the brand. In particular, our study

found that of four dimensions of OPRs, the perception of satisfaction with the company

had a significant impact on attitude toward the brand.

In addition, the present study verified the effect of product-related attribute beliefs

on attitude toward the brand, testing Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory that an

individual's attitude toward an object is based on his or her beliefs about the object's

attributes and his or her evaluation of those attributes. Even though the present study

adopted the relative importance component instead of Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975)

evaluative component of the expectancy-valued model, the sum of beliefs of salient

attributes ultimately determined the attitude.

Moreover, the finding that the importance component worked in terms of its

predictive power is consistent with Galloway and Meek's (1981) research. Galloway and

Meek's (1981) noted that the inclination to use a particular medium is a function of the

strength of expectancy associated with gratifications, combined with use and the value or

attractiveness of the gratification. In Galloway and Meek's (1981) research, expectancy

(E) was operationalized as the expectations of possible outcomes (gratifications) from

viewing a certain television program. Expectation value (V) was measured as the







73

perceived importance of having certain gratifications (Exposure=Z Expectancy*Value).

Galloway and Meek (1981) found strong relationships between expectancy (E)*value (V)

and television exposure levels. Therefore, the importance component instead of the

evaluative component appeared to be a valuable factor for predicting attitude toward the

brand.

The present study also showed the different degrees of explanatory power of two

groups of independent variables. Hierarchical regression analyses were conducted on the

four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs. The result revealed that

product-related attributes beliefs better predicted attitude toward the brand than the set of

OPR dimensions. As expected, the present study confirmed that attitude toward the

brand has a direct impact on purchase intention.

Finally, this study measured the relationships between each dimension of OPRs

and product-related attribute beliefs, and purchase intention via brand attitude using path

analysis, and found that the satisfaction dimension of OPRs and product-related attribute

beliefs predicted attitude toward the brand. Also, attitude toward the brand proved to be

a significant predictor of purchase intention. More detailed interpretations regarding each

finding are discussed in the following overview of research questions and hypotheses of

the present study.

Overview of the Research Questions and Hypotheses

In this section, each of the two research questions and two research hypotheses is

evaluated based on the results of the survey.

RQ1: How are the four dimensions of organization-public relationships-trust,
control mutuality, satisfaction, and commitment-related to attitude toward the
brand?







74

The first research question investigated the relation between four dimensions of

organization-public relationships (OPRs) and attitude toward the brand. To answer the

question, Pearson's correlation and multiple regression analysis were performed.

Pearson's correlation coefficients showed that all dimensions of OPRs and attitude

toward the brand are highly correlated with each other.

In order to test the significance of individual dimensions of OPRs as predictors

of brand attitude, multiple regression analysis was performed. The results showed that in

terms of a total model fit (F-test), OPRs were significantly related to attitude toward the

brand. However, of all four dimensions of OPRs, only satisfaction was a significant

predictor of attitude toward the brand.

One statistical explanation of the results is that the four dimensions of OPRs are

closely related with one another, and therefore one single dimension (except for

satisfaction) could not have a significant effect on a dependent variable. This explanation

is supported by the fact that the four dimensions were highly correlated with one another

in terms of Pearson correlations, but the partial correlations between trust, control

mutuality, and commitment, and attitude toward the brand changed significantly except

for satisfaction.

The result implies that satisfaction is the one dimension of OPRs that needs to be

emphasized. Indeed, relational satisfaction has long been acknowledged as an important

aspect of the relationship quality (Ferguson, 1984; Millar & Rogers, 1976; Stafford &

Canary, 1991). According to Ferguson (1984), the degree to which both the organization

and the public are satisfied with their relationship is a significant indicator of the quality

of the relationship.









In addition, from a social exchange perspective, Stafford and Canary (1991)

stated that one's satisfaction with the relationship increases as one perceives the partner

as working effectively toward the maintenance of that relationship. Bruning and

Ledingham (1998) argued that the organization-public relationship is closely related to

consumer satisfaction, and the level of satisfaction is influenced by the relationship

quality. Even though they viewed relational satisfaction as the outcome of the

organization-public relationship, not as a dimension of it, but as a crucial attribute of the

quality of a relationship.

In conclusion, the results to research question 1 showed that (1) the general

effects of OPRs on attitude toward the brand were significant, and (2) due to

multicollinearity among the four dimensions of OPRs, only satisfaction significantly

predicted attitude toward the brand. Based on these findings, it can be suggested that (1)

the scales used to measure OPRs need to be refined to reflect the theoretical differences

between the four dimensions, or (2) satisfaction be separated from the other dimensions

of OPRs and used as the overall evaluation of OPRs.

HI: Product-related attribute beliefs are related to attitude toward the brand

Hypothesis 1 predicted that attitude toward the brand would be affected by

product-related attribute beliefs. According to Keller (1998), product-related attributes is

one of the brand associations. As expected, there were significant causal relations

between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand. Because the five

product-related attribute beliefs were highly correlated, the present study used the overall

product-related attribute beliefs as an independent variable. Summing up all of the

product-related attribute belief was consistent with the expectancy-valued model, which

posits that a person's attitude toward an object can be predicted by multiplying the







76

evaluation of object attributes by beliefs about the object, and then summing all of the

attribute beliefs to obtain a total set of beliefs (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).

A regression analysis tested whether product-related attribute beliefs had

significantly positive effects on attitude toward the brand, as concluded in previous

studies. Although the present study adopted a "relative importance" component instead

of the "evaluative" component of the expectancy-value model, the sum of beliefs of

salient attributes successfully predicted attitudes. Thus, the present study suggests that an

importance component can have its explanatory power of attitudes and might improve

prediction of attitudes, which was consistent with Galloway and Meek's (1981) research.

The product used in the present study was a laptop computer, which called for

functional attributes and benefits, respondents' beliefs about product-related attributes

played a significant role in predicting attitude toward the brand. As Keller (1998) noted,

the consumer's perception of differences between brands are closely related to attributes

or benefits of the product itself.

However, when there is little real functional difference between competing

products, the critical determinant of brand attitude will depend upon other aspects of the

brand's identity (Meenaghan, 1995). For example, the attitude toward a soft drink brand

is probably based not as much on product-related attributes or benefits, but on images

associated with the product due to its brand name. Thus, the differentiation of competing

soft drink products is based on the symbols, images, and feelings associated with the

brand name rather than the attributes of products themselves.

In addition, the notion of product meanings are reflected by the construct of

product involvement which has been described as "one of the most important variables in

consumer research" (Antil, 1984, p. 203). Involvement has been viewed in terms of







77

product meaning and consumer-product relationships (Martin, 1998). According to

Martin (1998), involvement is the degree of psychological identification and affective,

emotional ties the consumer has with a stimulus or stimuli being the product category or

specific brand. Therefore, the characteristics of the products/brands themselves or their

usage contexts may play a role stimulating consumers' involvement.

In conclusion, the present study confirmed previous studies that demonstrated a

relationship between product-related attribute beliefs and attitude toward the brand. The

finding makes intuitive sense particularly in the present study, because the product

chosen for research, a laptop computer, requires customers to consider functional

attributes in their purchasing decisions. However, to test for the proposed model's

reliability, future research should apply the model to different product categories with

different types of attributes.

RQ2: Are there any significant differences between the impact of organization-
public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the
brand?

Our study investigated the association between OPRs and attitude toward the

brand in three stages. In the first stage, the researcher examined the relationship between

OPRs and attitude toward the brand excluding the effects of product-related attribute

beliefs. In the second stage, the association between OPRs and attitude toward the brand

was measured including product-related attribute beliefs in the model. Finally, the third

stage, the relative explanatory power of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on

attitude toward the brand were compared.

Research question 1 analyzed the first stage, namely the effect of OPRs on

attitude toward the brand excluding the effects of product-related attribute beliefs. The

results showed that OPRs were generally significant in predicting attitude toward the







78

brand. In turn, research question 2 examined the other two possible levels: (1) the effects

of OPRs on attitude toward the brand including the effects of product-related attribute

beliefs, and (2) the relative explanatory power of OPRs on attitude toward the brand

compared to the explanatory power of product-related attribute beliefs.

First, a multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with the

dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs was performed. The results

demonstrated that customers who felt satisfied with their relationship with a company and

held strong product-related attribute beliefs, had an overall positive attitude toward the

brand. Even considering the competing effects of product-related attribute beliefs, the

effect of OPRs was found to be significant. However, due to the multicollinearity of

independent variables, only one dimension of OPRs, satisfaction, was statistically

significant.

A multiple regression analysis of attitude toward the brand with all five

independent variables (four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs)

was, however, inadequate in order to examine the different predictive powers of

dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on attitude toward the brand.

As a result, two hierarchical regressions analyses were conducted to compare the relative

importance of the four dimensions of OPRs and product-related attribute beliefs on brand

attitude. The aim of these hierarchical regression analyses was to assess whether or not

OPRs affected brand attitude, and whether the expectancy-value model could be applied

to the relationship between product-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude.

The results of those two regressions suggest that product-related attribute beliefs

could better explain attitude toward the brand than the dimensions of OPRs. Keller

(1998) defined that product-related attributes as "the ingredients necessary for performing









the product or service function sought by consumers" (p. 93). Thus, it appears that

customers are likely to evaluate the brand based on the product's physical composition

and functional attributes, which in turn determine the level of product performance.

Considering that the present study used as product a laptop computer which has

functional-based attributes, the participants' overall evaluation of the brand may be less

influenced by their relationships with Sony, but rather by their product-related attribute

beliefs.

Research suggests that consumers can evaluate brands differently depending on

the type of product analyzed. For example, it is not easy to differentiate a brand of

gasoline from another brand of the same product. However, if a certain oil company

supports environmental causes, consumers are likely to hold positive attitudes toward that

brand due to corporate social responsibility, rather than product-related attributes.

In a similar example, the ice cream maker Ben & Jerry is "known as much for

sharing its wealth with the poor as for its use of natural ingredients to produce incredibly

rich ice cream" (Smith, 1994, p.42). As a result, Ben & Jerry's ice cream has good brand

value based on the company's social responsibility, rather than product-related attributes.

These examples imply that attitude toward the brand is influenced by the different

product types, and how these products are associated with corporate behaviors.

Summarizing, hierarchical regression analyses demonstrated that OPRs had less

explanatory power on attitude toward brand than product-related attribute beliefs. This

result, however, is not to say that OPRs were not useful in explaining attitude toward the

brand. The effect of OPRs on attitude toward the brand proved to be statistically

significant in both regression models, first excluding and then including the effect of

product-related attributes. The results to research question 2 only showed that OPRs are







80

relatively less powerful than product-related attribute beliefs in predicting attitude toward

the brand.

Though as mentioned before, the only product used in the present study was a

laptop computer. Since laptop computers have highly explicit product-related attributes

based on functional features, there is no guarantee that the results of the present study can

be extended to other products categories with different product-related attributes.

H2: Attitude toward the brand is positively related to purchase intention.

In the present study, attitude toward the brand had a significant direct effect on

purchase intention. This result is consistent with previous advertising research, as well as

with the findings of the Dual Mediation Hypothesis (Brown & Stayman, 1992;

MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986) that looked at attitudinal-behavioral patterns and

relationships in advertising. The present study reinforced that a key role of consumer

attitudes is to predict purchase behavior. Considering that attitudes are relatively stable

predispositions to behavior, an individual's attitude toward the brand plays an important

role in predicting his or her intention to purchase a product.


The present study also hypothesized that attitude toward the brand could be a

mediating variable for predicting purchase intention. Using path analysis, the researcher

examined the effects that each of the four dimensions of OPRs and product-related

attribute beliefs (as independent variables) had on purchase intention via brand attitude.

As expected, the analysis showed that all direct (not mediated by brand attitude)

relationships between the five independent variables and purchase intention were

statistically insignificant.









Path analysis confirmed three paths: satisfaction had a direct effect on attitude

toward the brand, product-related attribute beliefs also had a direct impact on attitude

toward the brand, and attitude toward the brand had a direct effect on purchase intention.

Consistent with the results of previous regression analyses, only one dimension of OPRs,

satisfaction, was significantly related to attitude toward the brand. Consequently, the

present study proposed a parsimonious model of the relationships between satisfaction,

product-related attribute beliefs, brand attitude, and purchase intention as the final model.

This parsimonious model posited that satisfaction and product-related attribute beliefs

were determinants of brand attitude, which in turn influenced purchase intention.

In conclusion, in the present study the researcher demonstrated that (1) OPRs

were significantly related to attitude toward brand, (2) product-related attribute beliefs

were also significantly related to attitude toward the brand, and (3) attitude toward the

brand was a strong mediator between independent variables (four OPR dimensions and

product-related attribute beliefs) and purchase intention.

Although the results were generally consistent with initial expectations, some

discrepancies were found. First, conducting regression models, only the satisfaction

dimension of OPRs was significantly related to attitude toward the brand. On the

contrary, simple correlation coefficients indicated that all four OPR dimensions were

significantly related to attitude toward the brand. This difference in findings was due to

multicollinearity among the dimensions of OPRs. In order to overcome this problem in

future research, the present study proposes two possible solutions. One solution is that

items measuring the dimensions of OPRs need to be refined, so that the convergent

validity of each dimension can be secured. The second proposition is that satisfaction be

separated from the other dimensions of OPRs because the effect of satisfaction by far









outweighed the effects of the other three dimensions. Furthermore, previous research

demonstrated that satisfaction could function as a dependent variable rather than

independent variable.

Second, the explanatory power of OPRs was found to be less significant than that

of product-related attribute beliefs in predicting attitude toward the brand. The present

study used only one product category, a laptop computer, which has functional-based

attributes. However, consumers' evaluation of brands can differ depending upon the type

of product categories. For example, if a product category without explicit product-related

attributes is tested, the predictive effect of OPRs may prove stronger.

Despite these unexpected results, the present study generally supports the

proposition that OPRs can function as an important predictor of attitude toward the brand.

Two regression analyses that first excluded competing effects of product-related attribute

beliefs, and then included such, both showed that OPRs were significantly related to

attitude toward the brand. Finally, considering the demonstrated direct relationship

between attitude toward the brand and purchase intention, the present study concludes

that OPRs can indirectly influence purchase intension.














CHAPTER 6
CONCLUSION

The ways in which public relations contributes to organizational goals have been

a crucial topic in public relations research. Recently, examination of the relationship that

exists between an organization and its key publics has emerged as a significant paradigm

for public relations scholarship and practice (Bruning & Ledingham, 1999).

According to Ehling (1992), the relationship management perspective shifts the

public relations practice away from the manipulation of public opinion toward building,

nurturing, and maintaining organization-public relationships. Scholars have emphasized

that the existence of positive relationships between an organization and its publics is one

of the major contributions of public relations to organizational effectiveness (Dozier, L.

A. Grunig, & J. E. Grunig, 1995; Huang, 2001).

As markets change rapidly and products' lives shorten, the one element that

gives customers confidence is brand value. By using a particular brand, consumers can

strengthen a positive image. Brands can also reduce the risk consumers face when

buying something that they know little about (Montgomery & Wemerfelt, 1992). An

organization's strong brand equity represents its intangible assets that bring about

customer loyalty and ultimately contribute to the organization's bottom line. However,

despite brands' great importance, little research has investigated brand management

concepts in the context of public relations.

To overcome such a gap, we explored empirically the effects of organization-

public relationships on attitude toward the brand and purchase intention via brand

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attitude. Four dimensions of organization-public relationships were used in the present

study, but only the dimension of satisfaction successfully predicted attitude toward the

brand. Using the expectancy-value model as a theoretical framework, the present study

also examined the causal link between product-related attribute beliefs and brand attitude.

The present study found different degrees of explanatory power of organization-

public relationships and product-related attribute beliefs in predicting attitudes toward the

brand. The analysis indicated that product-related attribute beliefs had better predictive

power toward brand attitude than the dimensions of organization-public relationships.

As proven in other fields of communication, the causal relationship between

attitude toward the brand as an attitudinal aspect and purchase intention as a behavioral

outcome was supported in this public relations context.

Our study concluded by proposing a parsimonious model for explaining causal

relationships among variables using path analysis. The analysis yielded three paths.

Brand attitude was strongly explained by both the perceptions of satisfaction and product-

related attribute beliefs, which implies that brand attitude is a combination of emotional

bond with a company and functional benefits derived from product attributes. Also, in

the present study, the direct relationship between brand attitude and purchase intention

was statistically significant. Consistent with other studies that indicated brand attitude as

a mediating variable, the statistical effects of OPR dimensions and product-related

attribute beliefs on purchase intention, mediated by brand attitude, were significant.







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Implications

Theoretical Implications

From a theoretical perspective, the present study is an exploratory attempt to

apply the effects of organization-public relationships to attitude toward the brand. A.

Ries and L. Ries (2002) stressed that public relations can and should play a powerful

marketing role, particularly in building and maintaining brands. As Olins (2000) noted,

the value of brands can depend on the quality of relationships that publics have with an

organization. With this in mind, the present study examined the causal effect of the

dimensions of organization-public relationships on brand attitude. The research suggests

that satisfaction as a dimension of OPRs can play a positive role in predicting attitude

toward the brand. Given the limited studies available in attitudinal and behavioral

research in public relations, the present study may help explain how customers'

association with an organization affects their attitude toward the organization's brands.

Most of the previous empirical studies on corporate associations focused on

developing measures of corporate image, rather than on developing theoretical links

between perceptions of relationships with a company and other outcome variables such as

customers' attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. As Brown and Dacin

(1997) noted, when a customer identifies a product with a company, there is a chance that

the overall assessment of that company will affect the evaluation of the product. Hence,

our study may be a starting point for public relations scholars to analyze the effects of

perceptions of organization-public relationships on attitude toward the brand.

In addition, using the expectancy-value model, the present study supports the

assumption that product-related attribute beliefs can predict attitude toward the brand.

The research applied Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) proposition, "attitudes derive from







86

beliefs about attitude objects" to product-related attributes, in order to compare the effect

of organization-public relationships on brand attitude. Although the present study

adopted an "importance" component instead of the "evaluative" component of the

expectancy-value model, the sum of product-related attribute beliefs successfully affected

attitudes. Therefore, the use of an importance component as suggested by Galloway and

Meek (1981) was fully justified.

The present study indicated that product-related attributes could better explain

attitude toward the brand than OPRs. However, this result may be due to the type of

product used in the present study, a laptop computer. In general, product attributes and

benefits to the user are important for the overall brand image or attitude. However, when

products have little functional advantage over similar competing products, or when

customers associate the product with the company's social behaviors, brand attitude can

be the result of non-product-related attributes, particularly OPRs. Therefore, it is

necessary to explore consumer-product relationships separately for different product

types.

Finally, the present study analyzed the causal relationship of attitudinal-

behavioral patterns as suggested by the Dual Mediation Hypothesis and other research

(Brown & Stayman, 1992; MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986). Consistent with earlier

findings of causal sequence of attitudes leading to purchase intention, the present study

proves that attitude toward the brand has a significant effect on purchase intention.

Another interesting finding is that all the direct associations between independent

variables (OPR dimensions and product-related attribute beliefs) and purchase intention

were not significant when including attitude toward the brand in the model as mediating

variable. That indicates that all the direct paths between independent variables and







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purchase intention were mediated by attitude toward the brand. Even though there might

exist more mediating variables, it is certain that attitude toward the brand is a strong

mediator between OPRs and purchase intention.

Practical Implications

From the standpoint of business practice, the main contribution of the present

study is to provide empirical evidence that positive relations between an organization and

its publics can strongly influence brand attitude. As Pierach (2002) argued, public

relations should explain its role to get its place in branding, the present study suggests the

important role of organization-public relationships in branding process. The present

study found that customers satisfied with the company were likely to hold favorable

attitudes toward a brand offered by the company. The results also suggest that while

product-related attributes are usually central to the brand attitude, consumers' evaluations

of the brand can sometimes be explained better by non-product-related attributes such as

perceptions of OPRs or corporate social behaviors.

Marketers recognize that products carry multiple meanings (Martin, 1998), the

perception of which can vary depending upon individuals (Friedmann, 1986; Levy,

1963), situations (Bransford & McCarrell, 1974; Kleine & Kernan, 1991; Olson, 1986),

and time periods (Blumer, 1969; Hirschman, 1986). For example, when people consider

buying an automobile, some put a high value on functional attributes, whereas others are

interested in the brand's reputation and so forth. However, product-related attributes that

have a relational nature such as good warranty and customer service are regarded as

valuable attributes, regardless of individuals' different evaluations of the product. The

present study implies that customers consider the association with a company even when

they evaluate product-related attribute benefits. Given this, companies should aim not