Perceived Attributes of Brand Trust in E-Tertiary Education

                                                  Kim-Choy, ...
Similarly, diverse views in studying trust across             Hypothesis 1: Brand trust in e-tertiary education is
2.3 Site quality                                             3.2 Factorial validity and structural model test
    Site qua...
Similarly, the indication for the need of a minimum        tried to increase the randomness of the sample overall by
Education seminar Series (CHESS), London: City                 [33] G.H. Hofstede, Culture's consequences: Comparing
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Perceived Attributes Of Brand Trust In E Tertiary Education


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Trust decreases the perceived risk of using a service. Since e-learners have no direct contact with the education providers, trust plays an important role in an e-tertiary setting. In a review of the literature, hypotheses are developed that suggest that the attributes of brand trust in e-tertiary education is related to institutional and courseware design assurance factors,
site quality and public awareness. A conceptual model summarizing the hypotheses is subsequently validated in
an empirical study. Overall, this study contributes to the understanding of trust within the context of consumerbrand
relationship in e-tertiary education.

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Chung, K.C. and Chua, A.P.H. (2009), ‘Perceived attributes of brand trust in e-Tertiary education’, 5th National Conference on Computing and Information Technology (NCCIT), 22-23 May, Bangkok, Thailand.

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Perceived Attributes Of Brand Trust In E Tertiary Education

  1. 1. Perceived Attributes of Brand Trust in E-Tertiary Education Kim-Choy, Chung Department of Marketing, School of Business University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand Adeline P. H., Chua Department of Marketing, School of Business University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand Shin Shin, Tan Polson Higgs, Assurance Services Dunedin, New Zealand Abstract brand trust is established through a combination of familiarity, security, word-of-mouth, advertising, and Trust decreases the perceived risk of using a service. brand image [2] [8]. Since e-learners have no direct contact with the education providers, trust plays an important role in an While brand has been mentioned as one of the factors e-tertiary setting. In a review of the literature, affective student’s choice of tertiary education [9] [10], hypotheses are developed that suggest that the attributes there is a lack of empirical evidence on the effect of of brand trust in e-tertiary education is related to brand trust on student’s decision-making. institutional and courseware design assurance factors, site quality and public awareness. A conceptual model This study explores on the effect of brand in summarizing the hypotheses is subsequently validated in student’s decision-making process. It aims to discover an empirical study. Overall, this study contributes to the the attributes of brand trust in e-tertiary education. understanding of trust within the context of consumer- brand relationship in e-tertiary education. E-tertiary education is defined as university’s undergraduate and post-graduate education via the Keyword: Brand trust, risk aversion, assurance, brand Internet/Web. experience, e-tertiary education 2. Conceptual Model 1. Introduction The rapid development of specialized branding According to [1], brand trust is the willingness of language within different industries has lead to an array consumers to rely on the ability of the brand to perform of definition of brand [11]. However, brand is commonly its stated function. Brand trust contributes to a reduction referred to as the name, term, design, symbol, or any of uncertainty in consumer purchases [2] [3] and is other feature that identifies one seller's good/service as believed to increase customer loyalty [4] [5] and brand distinct from those of other sellers [6]. equity [6] [7]. Therefore, consumers’ trust in a brand is critical to a brand’s success. There is a consensus that
  2. 2. Similarly, diverse views in studying trust across Hypothesis 1: Brand trust in e-tertiary education is difference disciplines have resulted in various related to risk aversion, contingent on situational factors definitions. Economists view trust as either calculative such as institutional assurance and courseware design. [12] or institutional [13]. Psychologists define trust in terms of trustors and trustees and focus upon internal cognitions [14] [15]. Sociologists assess trust in terms of 2.1 Institutional assurance factors social relationships/social institutions [16] [17]. On the other hand, social psychologists consider trust as an Regular faculty evaluation and government expectation that is specific to a transaction and the recognition of e-degrees [24] and course accreditation person with whom one is transacting [11] [18]. [25] ensure quality of e-courses. This paper proposes that instructor quality (relevant qualification & Within the marketing discipline, the study of trust motivated), and government recognition of e-tertiary mostly focuses on understanding the consumer-brand providers as the institutional assurance attributes. A relationships as in brand loyalty [6][19], brand equity motivated e-instructor is taken to mean having strong [7][20] and relationship marketing [21]. These empathy with e-learners (time-pressed, computing skills, conceptualisations of trust in brands are largely brand sense of isolation). performance related. For example, [6] conceives brand equity as the value added to the core product or service Given that strong research outputs is a common by associating it with a brand name. critteria for generating worldwide university ranking [10][25], it is included as a institutional assurance factor. It is apparent that most discussions of trust agree that confident expectations and risk are critical components. 2.2 Courseware design factors For example, [14] defines trust as the confidence that one will find what is desired from another, rather that Lack of a minimum study period, low entry what is feared. Similarly, [21] [22] also consider requirements and unspecified study materials are some confidence expectations as key elements of trust. Trust of the characteristics of a ‘certificate mill’ [25]. A matters only when a person is in a situation that involves certificate mill refers to the provision of education uncertainty/vulnerability/risk about an outcome [23]. degrees for a fee. The certificate mill deems previous academic records irrelevant and they promise a A strong brand is a trust mark (highly regarded by certificate (based on work experience) within 30 days consumers) because it signals high product quality or after entry. reliability, evokes consumers’ feelings of security, and enhances their confidence that a product offering will In order to maintain trust in the e-tertiary education deliver what they expect [6]. system, this paper proposes that courseware developed for e-tertiary education must have certain minimum From a student’s perspective, the perceived risk in periods of study, and the same entry requirements and purchasing e-tertiary education can be: study materials as classroom study. i) Functional risk- The risk that the program will not Hypothesis 2: Brand trust in e-tertiary education is meet student expectations (poor quality or the influenced by knowledge acquired through direct brand program unable to help students upgrade their skills). experience (site quality) and indirect brand experience (public awareness). ii) Financial risk- The program is not worth the investment or loss of investment in the event the According to [26], familiarity with a company or program is not relevant to student needs. For brand generates higher trust, unless a person has a example, will an e-MBA degree help a person get a negative perception of a brand. Similarly, [27] also better job in their home country? indicates a strong correlation between familiarity and trust. Brand familiarity is defined by [28] as the variable iii) Social risk- A poor choice of program may result in that reflects consumer’s level of direct and indirect social embarrassment (reference group members and experiences with a product. In contrast, [29] suggests significant others may not like the choice). For that trust is not so dependent on familiarity. example, inability to finish a program as expected or enrolling in a university that has a reputation of Given that e-tertiary education is a form of invisible certificate fraud. purchase (no face-to-face contact) where the outcome of the purchase (satisfaction) can only be assessed after iv) Time risk- The time spent in studying for a e-degree course completion, users’ positive experience (direct & will be wasted if industry or government does not indirect) with the brand is key in maintaining trust in this recognize the e-degree in the student’s home country. form of learning.
  3. 3. 2.3 Site quality 3.2 Factorial validity and structural model test Site quality is discussed as a main factor in The final 437 samples met the primary requirements engendering trust in the e-retailer [30] [31]. Good for factor analysis (5:1 case/variable ratio as structure/clarity of design, technical helpdesk and self- recommended by [32]. Exploratory factor analysis on all checking activities are influential factors in the market four factor scales using SPPS’s Principal Component acceptance of e-education [24]. Analysis (varimax rotation) techniques indicated they were best represented by one construct each. Site quality in this paper is taken to mean a well- designed web site that gives e-learners up-to-date information (knowledge content), is easy to navigate, As shown in Figure 1, Structural Equation Modeling and shows necessary links to other relevant websites or (SEM) using AMOS version 6.0 revealed sufficient facilitates an effective interaction with e-learners. evidence of goodness-of-fit between the proposed model and the sample data (CMIN/DF=2.10, RMSEA=0.050, 2.4 Public awareness GFI= 0.962). All measurement models showed internal consistency (Cronbach’s Alpha Coefficient: Course According to [24], industry support (recognition of assurance=.772, Institutional assurance=.748, Site skills achieved), strong alumni network (mouth-to-mouth quality=.792 and Public awareness=.828). communication) and friends/family’s opinions about e- tertiary education are vital for its success. This paper 1.00 Reliability intends to validate this argument in relation to brand .98 f1 (Cronbach alpha) 1 Course assurance=.772 trust. a1 .51 min period .74 .72 Inst. assurance=.748 1 same .99 Site quality=.792 a2 entry req course Public awareness=.828 3. Methodology .44 1 same 1.00 assurance factor a3 material .59 3.1 Questionnaire and samplings 1 Instructor a4 Qua. 1.00 .86 .64 1 research ouputs .75 institutional The pre-tested (self completion) questionnaire a5 .69 (university ranking) .90 assurance factor 1 comprised of demographic, institutional and course a6 govt recog .37 .88 assurance factors, site quality and public awareness 1.00 1.00 f2 factors, where respondents rank their importance in brand trust in e-tertiary .65 trusting e-tertiary education. 1 .78 e1 interactivity .92 .34 1 1.00 Site quality The targeted samples were high school and junior e2 .78 Easy navigation .83 (direct experience) .71 colleges students. Students in their uniforms are a e3 1 up to date .58 infor 1.00 common sight in the various shopping malls in these two f3 .79 Fit measures countries. Thus, they are easy to identify and solicit 1 Strong CMIN/DF=2.10 p1 .73 responses for the survey. .42 alumni network RMSEA=0.050 GFI= 0.962 1 industry 1.00 public awareness p2 support (indirect experience) CFI=0.974 .42 (employment).97 Hoelter (0.05=281, To increase the randomness of the sample, this p3 1 friends & .79 0.01=317) family opinion 1.00 research make a random selection of the mall to f4 randomly select the survey respondents, and collect data over a two-week period at the same mall. To ensure that Fig.1: SEM statistics (standardised) of the proposed model all possible times were represented when students went to a mall, preliminary observations were taken to discover the time frame the mall has the largest 4. Findings and Discussions concentration of students. The time from 1-6pm was The SEM results indicated that institutional observed to have greatest concentration of students in all assurance factors and courseware design assurance randomly selected malls. The main author positioned factors had regression weights of 0.88 and 0.64 himself at high traffic locations near mall entrances for respectively. The indicated importance of instructor’s the selection of respondents. quality, university’s ranking and government recognition of e-tertiary degree (institutional assurance factors) could Eight hundred questionnaires were randomly be interpreted as a potential e-graduate needing the distributed via mall-intercept in Singapore and Malaysia assurance that their efforts and money spent on e-tertiary (Johore). Out of the 437 questionnaires returned, 210 education would be rewarded with public recognition; were from Singapore. The scatter plots revealed that quality instructors are available to encourage, univariate normality of data while the boxplot chart mentor and motivate them to maintain their interest in showed no cases of outliers. Survey respondents their ‘isolated’ learning journey; and that the institution comprised 53% males and 47% females. they enrolled in are highly regarded worldwide for its quality of teaching/research.
  4. 4. Similarly, the indication for the need of a minimum tried to increase the randomness of the sample overall by period of study, same course entry requirements and randomly selecting the malls, and times to select the study materials as classroom study (courseware design survey respondents, a comparison of the sample factors) could be interpreted as respondents viewing demographic variables with a validation sample these factors as necessary to avoid falling into the (collected in the same geographical areas) would be ‘certificate mill’ trap. advisable. This is to ensure generalisation of the results to the resident population and to test the comparability The importance of institutional and courseware and stability of the proposed hypothetical models. design assurance factors meant respondents tried to However, a validation sample was not available for this reduce uncertainty (risks) regarding e-tertiary education, study. given that e-education involves no direct contact with the institution or its staff. Thus, hypothesis one (brand trust Second, by not focusing on a specific institution, the in e-tertiary education is related to risk aversion, effect of an institution’s micro environment (a contingent on situational factor such as institutional university’s perceived brand image, university’s assurance and courseware design) is supported by this frontline staff service quality, corporate missions etc) research. and its brand positioning statement in relation to brand trust as quality cues in e-tertiary purchase is unknown. Site quality (regression weight=0.78) and public awareness factors (0.71) also influence brand trust in e- 5. Conclusion tertiary education. Thus, the hypothesis that brand trust in e-tertiary education is influenced by knowledge This study supports the argument that governmental acquired through direct brand experience (site quality) support and industry collaboration are important for the and indirect brand experience (public awareness) is also propagation of e-education. Brand trust in e-tertiary validated. This confirmed [30] [31] arguments that site education is related to risk aversion (contingent on quality is vital in engendering trust in e-retailer. It also institutional and courseware design assurance factors) supports [24] assertion that family and friend’s opinion and knowledge acquired through direct brand experience on e-degree; industry support in the form of employment (site quality:-interactivity, up-to-date knowledge and strong alumni network for word-of-mouth contents, ease of navigation) and indirect brand communication (public awareness) are influential in the experience (friends/family’s opinion about e-tertiary uptake of e-education. education, industry support, mouth-to-mouth communication via alumni networks). In view of the collectivist society of Singapore and Malaysia [33], the above findings may be interpreted as respondents being concerned that the community will 6. References reject their investment in time consuming and costly education. Collectivists tend to be concerned with [1] A. Chaudhuri & M.B. 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