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Customer Journeys Through the Eyes of Undergraduate College Students

Steven A Taylor, Nathan S. Hartman, Hoon Ho Lim


Communicating the value associated with an undergraduate degree is one of the most vexing problems facing universities’ administrators. Universities are at an important crossroads, one that arguably confronts the soul of the academy. One fork in the road is to “stay the course” of traditional liberal education seeking well-roundedness and lifelong learning. The other fork is to acquiesce to growing marketization pressures that emphasize practitioner-related knowledge and skills in support of employment opportunities and efficacy. The current study uses the lens of service dominant logic (SDL) to view this dilemma, because SDL is the emerging general marketing logic based on a standard of achieved value and a stakeholder orientation (which may or may not be perceived equally across stakeholder groups). This exploratory descriptive study evaluates the preferences for perceived value based on marketization versus liberal education approaches using both descriptive and predictive techniques. The results suggest that the marketization versus liberal education choice may prove in the end to be a false choice! This suggests the possibility that the current controversy between advocates of marketization versus marketing may both be placated (to a degree) by creative solutions that merge liberal education with marketization pedagogical goals and measures of success. We believe that our findings provide useful insights for better higher education at this controversial time, particularly vis-à-vis student satisfaction. We also hope our study spurs further examination of the issues related to the marketization and marketing perspectives in higher education.

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