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Meeting the challenge of service intangibility: Are Top universities more innovative in the design of their homepages?. Iris Vilnai-Yavetz Sigal Tifferet Department of Business Administration Ruppin Academic Center ISRAEL. The Art & Science of Service V Conference

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Meeting the challenge of service intangibility: Are Top universities more innovative in the design of their homepages?

Iris Vilnai-Yavetz

Sigal Tifferet

Department of Business Administration

Ruppin Academic Center

ISRAEL

The Art & Science of Service V Conference

June 17-19, 2009, Bentley University, Waltham, MA, USA

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Theoretical background

Meeting the challenge of service intangibility

“Services marketing professionals are confronted with the problem of how to communicate the intangible qualities of a service” (Mittal, 1999).

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Theoretical background

Service as a product

Service as a theater

Services Marketing Mix

  • Product

  • Price

  • Place

  • Promotion

  • People

  • Process

  • Physical evidence

(Booms & Bitner, 1981)

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Theoretical background

SERVQUAL Model

Tangibles

Reliability

Responsiveness

Assurance

Empathy

(Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985)

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Research context

Research context - Why Internet?

The Internet offers many advantages to organizations interested in promoting their services. (Rust and Kannan, 2002).

Since Internet web sites serve as initial (or only) contact points, between the customer and the company, clients' perceptions of the company are likely to be derived from their perceptions of the site(Gao, 2005).

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Research context

Research context -Why academic services?

  • The client and the organization choose each other.

  • ‘High involvement’ services.

  • Academic institutions deal with a young, literate, and innovative audience, which actively consumes Internet services (Mechitov et al., 2001).

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Research background

Previous Research

Customer reactions are higher/better in response to academic homepageswith imagesthan in response toacademic homepageswithout images.

These reactions are higher/better in response to academic homepages with photos of buildings(exteriors or interiors) than in response to homepages withphotos of people(lecturers and students).(Vilnai-yavetz & Tifferet, 2009)

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Research objectives

Research objectives

1. Describe and characterize the academic homepages of the top 500 universities.

2. Answer the question - are images in academic homepages used in the way recommended by Vilnai-yavetz & Tifferet (2009)?

3. Answer the question - are top universities more innovative than good universities, in the design of their homepages?

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Method

Method

  • A preliminary survey of the web sites of the top 100 academic institutes in the world (Top100 list, 2005), for validity and reliability reasons.

  • A survey of the homepages of the world's top 500 academic institutes (Top500 list, 2007)

  • Research variables: type of images (e.g., students, buildings), colors and hues, technologies used (e.g., flash, video), functional features (e.g, search, RSS), information services (e.g., news, weather), etc.

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Method

Method – coding process

  • Seven teams -- two judges in each -- appraised the homepages.

  • Among these judges were 4 IT professionals, 2 industrial designers, 4 business managers who operate their firm's website, and 4 business administration students.

  • Each judge rated the amount of images, images content, dominant colors and hues, menu options, etc.

  • Five teams were assigned 100 homepages each.

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Method

Method - reliability

Reliability - 3 measures:

1) A preliminary survey of the web sites of the top 100 universities was conducted in 2008. After collecting the data of the current - top 500 – survey, reliability was measured using a comparison of the results of the two surveys.

2) Every homepage was appraised by two team members who discussed the data and reached agreement before coding.

3) Two additional teams independently appraised 20 homepages each out of every 100, resulting in the reexamination of 200 of the 500 homepages. Inter-judge reliability was checked using Cohen's Kappas and correlations.

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Method

Method

  • Data about Total Quality Score of universities was taken from: (Top500 list, 2007, http://www.arwu.org/rank/2007/ARWU2007TOP500list.htm)

  • This measure was calculated based on the following Indicators:

  • Number of the alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals.

  • Number of the staff winning Nobel prizes in physics, chemistry, medicine and economics and Fields Medal in Mathematics.

  • Number of highly cited researchers in life sciences, medicine, physical sciences, engineering and social sciences.

  • Number of articles published in Nature and Science 2002-2006.

  • Number of articles indexed in Science Citation Index 2006.

  • Academic performance with respect to the size of an institution

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

96% of academic homepages present at least one image

Images and features

Category of image or feature

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

p<0.005

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

p<0.05

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

In comparison to the 400-500 universities, the top 100 universities have more innovative homepages from a technological perspective…

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

Search options were more frequently used in the homepages of the top 100 universities than in the homepages of the 400 to 500 universities (Chi-square = 9.1, p < .005)

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

University newswere more frequently presented in the homepages of the top 100 universities than in the homepages of the 400 to 500 universities

(Chi-square = 9.3, p < .005)

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

Glossarywas more frequently used in the homepages of the top 100 universities than in the homepages of the 400 to 500 universities (Chi-square = 4.6, p < .05)

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

Feedback was more frequently used in the homepages of the top 100 universities than in the homepages of the 400 to 500 universities (Chi-square = 6.6, p < .05)

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

Weather datawere more frequently presented in the homepages of the top 100 universities

than in the homepages of the 400 to 500 universities (Chi-square = 4.8, p < .05).

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Findings

Findings

In addition, dark hues were more frequently used in the homepages of the top 100 universities than in the homepages of the 400 to 500 universities

(Chi-square = 8.9, p < .05).

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Conclusions

Conclusions

1) Most academic homepages present at least one image and use advanced options, such as search engines. This fits the recommendations of Vilnai-Yavetz & Tifferet (2009) regarding the positive effect of images in homepages.

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Conclusions

Conclusions

2) In contrast to the recommendation of Vilnai-Yavetz & Tifferet (2009), photos of buildings (exteriors or interiors) are used less than photos of people (lecturers and students) in the design of academic homepages.

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Conclusions

Conclusions

3) Two design strategies were identified:

(a) The 'service oriented’' strategy characterizing the excellent universities.

This strategy apply SERVQUAL elements, aimed at measuring service quality (responsiveness, empathy, tangibles, etc.; Parasuraman, Zeithaml, & Berry, 1985), and create 'a service atmosphere' by focusing on service providers (lecturers), the interaction among them and their customers (students), the aesthetics of the decorations, and the capacities of the technological platforms (e.g., search engines).

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© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Conclusions

Conclusions

(b) The 'practical oriented‘’ strategy characterizing the good universities. This strategy, in contrast, implement these parameters to a lesser extent, presenting a practical homepage containing information for prospective students but doing so with less images, less decorations, and less search options.

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Conclusions

Conclusions

4) Innovative strategies which use image categories, hues, search options, university news, glossary, feedback and more for communicating service quality are indeed necessary for creating (or reflecting) a competitive advantage.

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il


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Thank you!

© Iris Vilnai-Yavetz – yavetzir@ruppin.ac.il