The identity salience and emotional attachment strategies in alumni-university relationships

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Higher education has never truly recognized the importance of garnering the resources of alumni by expending university efforts in developing, controlling, and maintaining relationships with alumni. The purpose of this research is to tackle the long-term relationship marketing question. Drawing on the social marketing and relationship marketing literature, the authors propose and empirically test the roles of two relationship marketing strategies, namely identity salience and emotional attachment, in the alumni-university relationship. While the identity salience strategy encourages alumni to connect their identity to their former university, the emotional attachment strategy triggers the psychological ownership that leads alumni to proactively engage in university activities. Based on results of data collected from a large Midwestern university, the identity salience strategy was found to greatly affect symbolic consumption behavior while the emotional attachment strategy was found to strongly promote relationship-specific volunteering. The results also revealed that three social benefits, including development of a business network, enhancement of a friendship network, and enjoyment of participation, are associated with the two relationship marketing strategies. The authors conclude with a discussion addressing limitations of the study as well as practical and theoretical implications of the findings.

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© 2014 IGI Global. Publisher's version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.4018/ijcrmm.2014040102

Publication Title

International Journal of Customer Relationship Marketing and Management