Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Marketing

Major Professor

Paul Solomon, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Andrew Artis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Richard Plank, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anand Kumar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Terry Sincich, Ph.D.

Keywords

organizational support, supervisory support, sales training, self-management, adult learning

Abstract

Academic researchers and marketing practitioners are exploring methods to improve salesperson training. Recently, self-directed learning projects were proposed as a new paradigm for learning to take place in the sales domain (Artis & Harris, 2007). Current conceptual work provides a strong foundation for understanding salesperson self-directed learning; however, prior to quantitatively testing proposed models, scales must be created and modified to address salesperson specific learning endeavors. The purpose of this dissertation is: 1) to develop scales to measure salesperson willingness to use self-directed learning projects (SDLP's), 2) to develop a conceptual model of salesperson self-directed learning, 3) to modify current scales to specifically examine salesperson self-directed learning, and 4) to test this model empirically.

To accomplish this, the relevant theories and literature were analyzed to create a theoretical model that would test the following research questions: 1.What factors contribute to salesperson willingness to use SDLP's? 2.What is the relationship between salesperson willingness to use SDLP's and salesperson use of SDLP's? 3.What is the relationship between salesperson use of SDLP's and salesperson performance? Two conceptual models were created to account for two categories of learning projects, induced and synergistic SDLP's. The following variables reflect the conceptual models: willingness to use induced/synergistic SDLP's, use of induced/ synergistic SDLP's, perceived supervisor/organizational support for induced/synergistic SDLP's, and self-regulation training and performance.

Data from 392 salespeople within the financial services industry fit the measurement model and suggest that use of synergistic (non-mandatory) SDLP's positively impacts performance (.396) and use of induced (mandatory) SDLP's does not impact performance. Willingness to use synergistic SDLP's positively impacts use of synergistic SDLP's. Support from the organization and supervisor positively impact willingness to use induced and synergistic SDLP's. Surprisingly, training in self-regulation did not positively impact salesperson willingness to use induced or synergistic SDLP's. The new measures for all constructs exhibit Cronbach's alpha reliability statistics over .7 and acceptable confirmatory factor analysis results. The study provides reliable measurement scales and empirical support for the future study of self-directed learning in a sales context.

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