Given the competitive landscape in the higher education setting, it is important that universities adopt strategies that create competitive advantage for them. Universities must leverage their resources efficiently to address this goal. Creating a positive brand image is one such strategy. The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize university brand image as its heritage, service quality and trustworthiness and investigate their relationship with student’s satisfaction. It also investigates the role of university reputation as a mediating variable.
Data were collected through a mixed method approach. The first stage involved qualitative interviews and focused group discussions with students to understand the factors responsible for student satisfaction with their respective universities. The second stage involved administering a survey questionnaire in two geographies – the USA and India to investigate the hypothesized relationship. The authors use regression analyses to test these relationships.
Findings indicate that a distinct brand image plays an important role in students’ level of satisfaction across both the USA and India. Service quality has a greater impact on student satisfaction levels across both contexts (as compared to university heritage and trustworthiness). The authors also find a positive mediating effect of university reputation in the relationship between university brand image and student satisfaction levels.
The current research contributes to the services marketing literature in the university context. It offers a framework for decision making in universities. It suggests that universities must work toward developing their brand image by focusing on its three dimensions – heritage, trustworthiness and service quality.
Panda, S., Pandey, S.C., Bennett, A. and Tian, X. (2019), "University brand image as competitive advantage: a two-country study", International Journal of Educational Management, Vol. 33 No. 2, pp. 234-251. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-12-2017-0374Download as .RIS
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