Nowadays, marketing activities of HE institutions are increasingly important as they operate within their competitive and regulated environment. HE institutions have borrowed service industrial concepts to focus on the services they provide to students. They need to identify and implement tools to further understanding of the issues that impact on students' experiences. Apart from, focussing specifically on the learning experience in the sense of formal learning (where most of the past research has concentrated on), studies have also shown that support services are just as important in influencing students' learning experience. Hence, one of the support services, programme administration (PA) has become increasingly important due to the diversity of programmes offered and it contributes to the learning experience of students as well as indirectly impacting upon institutions' competitiveness. In order to enhance the learning experience of students and to manage the service encounter between students and programme leaders (PLs), it is argued that there must be an understanding of the service encounter behaviour (SEB) of the interacting parties and more importantly from a dyadic perspective since a service encounter is a two-way interpretive process. Thus, this research is set in the HE context, focussing particularly in PA, exploring the SEB (the situational definition and situational roles) of student-PL from a dyadic perspective (from student's and employee's perspective) to improve the management of service encounters as well as to enhance the learning experience of students. The conceptual framework is based on Czepiel et al. (1985) concept of a service encounter emphasising that it is purposeful where tasks need to be completed within a set of rules constrained by the nature of service and the behaviour bounded by roles assumed by the interacting parties. To manage a service encounter, the SEB of the interacting parties needs to be understood and from a dyadic perspective paying attention to roles represented by each participant. This research has borrowed literature from the social psychology discipline i.e. Mead (1934) SI perspective of role and McHugh's (1968) situational definition to further understanding of the dynamism of interactions to gain further understanding of the SEB (role expectations and role response of the interacting parties). Taking the social constructionist epistemology, this research seeks to understand the meanings student- PL construct when interacting and how these meaning have led to specific SEB. By adopting the interpretivists' paradigm embedded in symbolic interactionism, the researcher tries to interpret the underlying meaning of students'-PLs' SEB from a dyadic perspective. Qualitative case study methodology is employed using the critical incident technique (CIT) as a method to elicit student-PL experiences in service encounters, helping them to focus on specific situations when recounting their SEB. To make sense of these data, narrative analysis is used to interpret the constructions of students¬PLs in their interactions. The study has included 42 participants (26 students and 16 PLs) from 4 private colleges in Malaysia. It has yielded 63 service encounters categorised into 11 types of service encounter, covering most of the situations where a student would approach their PLs in a typical semester. The findings have indicated that defining a service encounter is significant and is functional in shaping the situational roles to be represented, thereby influencing the outcome of the situation. It has shown that even though service encounters can be similar, different situational roles can lead to different outcomes. These key findings are evidenced in a SEB guide, giving a bundle of possible situational roles in identified service encounters. These outcomes have implications for students, PLs and the management as well as future research. This research has contributed by extending the SEB...
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 22 Nov 2006|