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Title: Exploring customer trust and relationships in the online environment
Author: Harridge-March, Sally Patricia N.
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis presents eleven selected publications concerning trust and relationships in the online environment. The evolution of the research over ten years showcases the author’s dedication to the practical application of marketing for the benefit of organisations and individuals alongside contribution to academic knowledge. The advent of new technology by way of the internet has added a new dimension to the complexity of marketing strategy and, from a practical point of view, marketers need to incorporate cutting edge technology into their strategic thinking. Existing literature at the time that the author started this research was at the nascent stage and over the period of the research, it became obvious that technology could be used as a tool to help build relationships. Conversely, customers demonstrated varying degrees of trust in both the technologies and the organisations using online-based tools. It became essential, therefore, for organisations to appear trustworthy in order for customers to engage with online marketing platforms and subsequently entrust their purchasing activities to the online environment. The research appraised in this thesis makes a significant contribution to knowledge about marketing in the online environment and the implications of engendering consumer trust. Six key contributions to knowledge are claimed as a result of this work. Firstly, a framework for using online marketing strategically has been developed. Secondly, an analysis of how online marketing fits into the traditional marketing framework is provided. Thirdly, the author introduces the notion that trust in a brand influences online behaviour by reducing perceived risk, leading to consumers committing to online purchasing. Fourthly, online brand elements used to create credibility of a B2B brand are identified. Fifthly, the author presents an identification of how structural elements of websites can be utilized to differentiate online brands from competitors’ offerings. Finally, the author puts forward the proposition that marketers can learn from relationships between contributors to online social networks. The researcher has utilised a variety of deliberately chosen methodologies, most of which are qualitative. The thesis also contains three secondary contributions related to research design. These are the use of a bought-in, permission-based email list, the innovative use of netnography to elicit rich data from online discussion forums and, finally, content analysis of websites. The work concludes by offering eight recommendations for future research directions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available