Date of Award

5-1-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Fraedrich, John

Abstract

The history of consumerism shows that consumer movements in developed countries with capitalist economies in general, and in the United States in particular, have had great success in helping customers get safer products (car seat belts), more information (product labels), and better market regulation (the Consumer Product Safety Act). Consumer interests in developed countries are represented by several sets of organizations with different concerns. These consumer interests are fragmented but well articulated, whereas in developing countries, consumer interests are homogeneous and unarticulated. Moreover, compared with the hyper-connected world we live in today, in the past greater efforts were required to mobilize consumers for consumerism actions such as protests, boycotts, calls for policy change, and demands for more government regulations. The purpose of this study is to develop a testable model of consumerism, with a focus on market settings within a developed country, the United States, and a developing country, Saudi Arabia. The goals are to (a) understand why some consumers go beyond the norm to engage in consumerism behaviors, and (b) whether their level of consumerism differs between that of a developed and a developing country, and if so, why. To this end, a consumerism model based on the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) was developed. The research provides the first set of data and the first quantitative analysis regarding consumerism behaviors in conjunction with the use of an online platform (Twitter) among Saudi Arabian and American consumers. The developed model explained consumerism behaviors. Furthermore, this study demonstrates that the Saudi sample had a higher level of intent to engage in consumerism behaviors than did the American sample. Also, this study shows that the Saudi sample had a negative perception of government regulatory practices and a higher level of intent to engage in consumerism behaviors on Twitter than the American sample. Thus, in Saudi Arabia, a country with a restricted civil society and only one semi-independent consumer protection organization, more consumers use Twitter as a consumerism platform than in the US, a country with an unrestricted civil society and numerous independent consumer organizations.

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