Skip to main content

Alumni’s perceptions about commitment towards their university: drivers and consequences

Abstract

This paper intends to capture alumni’s assessments and perceptions about decisive dimensions of their commitment towards their alma mater. Their academic experience and current situation are highlighted. Moreover, their perception about the role of Higher Education Institution (HEI) in this commitment-relationship is likewise valuable to get their involvement. The study took place at a Portuguese university. Three focus groups, with 21 participants, were conducted to get consistent information permitting further developments. Data were analysed through NVivo software.The study gives insights revealing dimensions such as the relationships with teachers, extracurricular activities and initiation as decisive in their academic experience. Recommending and sharing their experience, underline evidence of what they are willing to give back. Moreover, their consciousness of bearing a mission to contribute to HEI’s development was expressed through strong positive feelings, such as the sense of belonging, and pride at being part of the university, defined in their statements. But they all demand an effective ability of the university to communicate with them. Overall conclusions offer a scenario of alumni’s commitment, giving HEI’s management valuable clues to improvement, but its responsibility in this commitment-relationship was also stressed. Moreover, results also provide contributions to literature enabling other HEIs to replicate the study or simply use the results for their own development. Since the study occurred in a relatively weak alumni culture context, revealing the importance in promoting debate as a means to engage alumni in HEI’s efforts for success, it presents insights for further developments in similar higher education environments.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4

Notes

  1. 1.

    American Colleges and Universities received $11.37 Billion in alumni gifts, 14.5% of the total amount of fundraising (CAE 2018). The European reality is, nevertheless, different. Fundraising with alumni still lacks development as well as the sense of a donor culture. However, there is the exception, the UK, where some universities generate close to 10% of philanthropic fundraising (Estermann and Pruvot 2011).

  2. 2.

    The possibility of giving their help to improve some of aspects in terms of courses’ curricula through their skills and experience was described. The quality of training is a concern shown by most of the participants when it comes to the match between the needs of the labour market and what the institution offers.

References

  1. Alnawas, I., & Phillips, C. (2015). Alumni orientation: Development of the construct. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 27(2), 183–215.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Alves, H., & Raposo, M. (2007). Conceptual model of student satisfaction in higher education. Total Quality Management & Business Excellence, 18(5), 571–588.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Alwi, S. F., & Kitchen, P. J. (2014). Projecting corporate brand image and behavioral response in business schools: Cognitive or affective brand attributes? Journal of Business Research, 67(11), 2324–2336.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Amani, Z. (2015). Commitment as a mediator of the relationship between trust and relationship loyalty to retailer. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 6(3).

  5. Astin, A. W. (1984). Student involvement: A development theory for higher education student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Development, 40(5), 518–529.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bardin, L. (1977). Análise de Conteúdo [L’Analyse de Contenu]. Lisboa: Edições 70.

  7. Belfield, C. R., & Beney, A. P. (2000). What determines alumni generosity? Evidence for the UK the UK. Education Economics, 8(1), 65–80.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Bernal, A., & Mille, D. (2013). Initiating alumni engagement initiatives: Recommendations from MFT alumni focus groups. Contemporary Family Therapy, 36, 300–309.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Bleiklie, I., Enders, J., & Lepori, B. (2012). Introduction: Transformation of universities in Europe. Higher Education, 65, 123–124. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10734-012-9577-5.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Brown, R. M., & Mazzarol, T. W. (2008). The importance of institutional image to student satisfaction and loyalty within higher education. Higher Education, 58(1), 81–95.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Browne, B. A., Kaldenberg, D. O., Browne, W. G., & Brown, D. J. (1998). Student as customer: Factors affecting satisfaction and assessments of institutional quality. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 8(3), 1–14.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.) New York: Oxford University Press.

  13. CAE. Council for Aid to Education, (2018). Colleges and Universities raised $ 43 .60 Billion in 2017. Retrieved April 17, 2018 from http://cae.org/images/uploads/pdf/VSE-2017-Press-Release.pdf

  14. Canterbury, R. M. (2000). Higher education marketing: A challenge. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 9(3), 15–24.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Clark, K. R., & Vealé, B. L. (2018). Strategies to enhance data collection and analysis in qualitative research. Radiologic Technology, 89(5), 482–485.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Clotfelter, C. T. (2001). Who are the alumni donors? Giving by two generations colleges. Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 12(2), 119–138.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Clotfelter, C. T. (2003). Alumni giving to elite private colleges and universities. Economics of Education Review, 22(2), 109–120.

    Google Scholar 

  18. Conway, T., Mackay, S., & Yorke, D. (1994). Strategic planning in higher education: Who are the customers? International Journal of Educational Management, 8(6), 29–36.

    Google Scholar 

  19. Daly, S. (2013). Philanthropy, the new professionals and higher education: The advent of directors of development and alumni relations. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 35(1), 21–33.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Diamond, W. D., & Kashyap, R. K. (1997). Extending models of prosocial behavior to explain University alumni contributions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27(10), 915–928.

    Google Scholar 

  21. Dick, A. S., & Basu, K. (1994). Customer loyalty: Toward an integrated conceptual framework. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 22(2), 99–113.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Donina, D., & Hasanefendic, S. (2018). Higher Education institutional governance reforms in the Netherlands, Portugal and Italy: A policy translation perspective addressing the homogeneous / heterogeneous dilemma. Higher Education Quarterly. 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12183

  23. Duarte, P. O., Alves, H. B., & Raposo, M. B. (2010). Understanding university image: A structural equation model approach. International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, 7(1), 21–36.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Elliott, K. M., & Healy, M. A. (2001). Key factors influencing student satisfaction related to recruitment and retention. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 10(4), 1–11.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Elliott, K. M., & Shin, D. (2002). Student satisfaction: An alternative approach to assessing this important concept. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 24(2), 197–209.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Elsharnouby, T. H. (2015). Student co-creation behavior in higher education: The role of satisfaction with the university experience. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 1241, 1–25.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Estermann, T., & Pruvot, E. B. (2011). Financially sustainable universities II. European University Association: European universities diversifying income streams Retrieved from: http://www.eua.be/Libraries/publications-homepage-list/Financially_Sustainable_Universities_II_-_European_universities_diversifying_income_streams.pdf?sfvrsn=2.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Fullerton, G. (2003). When does commitment Lead to loyalty? Journal of Service Research, 5(4), 333–344.

    Google Scholar 

  29. Gaier, S. (2005). Alumni satisfaction with their undergraduate academic experience and the impact on alumni giving and participation. International Journal of Educational Advancement, 5(4), 279–288.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Gallo, M. (2012). Beyond philanthropy: Recognizing the value of alumni to benefit higher education institutions. Tertiary Education and Management, 18(1), 41–55.

    Google Scholar 

  31. Geyskens, I., SteeKamp, J. B., Scheer, L., & Kumar, N. (1996). The effects of trust and interdependence on relationship commitment: A trans- Atlantic study. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 13, 303–317.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Grönroos, C. (1994). From marketing mix to relationship marketing: Towards a paradigm shift in marketing. Management Decision, 32(2), 1–27.

    Google Scholar 

  33. Grossman, R. P. (1999). Relational versus discrete exchanges: The role of trust and commitment in determining customer satisfaction. The Journal of Marketing Management., 9(2), 47–58.

    Google Scholar 

  34. Guerra, I.C. (2006). Pesquisa Qualitativa e Análise de Conteúdo- Sentidos e formas de uso [Qualitative research and content analysis- purposes and ways of use]. Cascais. Princípia Editora.

  35. Hartman, D. E., & Schmidt, S. L. (1995). Understanding student/alumni satisfaction from a consumer’s perspective: The effects of institutional performance and program outcomes. Research in Higher Education, 36(2), 197–217.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Harvey, J. A. (1996). Marketing schools and consumer choice. International Journal of Educational Management, 10(4), 26–32.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Helgesen, Ø. (2008). Marketing for higher education: A relationship marketing approach. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 18(1), 50–78.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Helgesen, Ø., & Nesset, E. (2007). Images, satisfaction and antecedents: Drivers of student loyalty? A case study of a Norwegian University college. Corporate Reputation Review, 10(1), 38–59.

    Google Scholar 

  39. Hemsley-Brown, J., & Oplatka, I. (2006). Universities in a competitive global marketplace. A systematic review of the literature on higher education marketing. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 19(4), 316–338.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Hennig-Thurau, T., Langer, M. F., & Hansen, U. (2001). Modeling and managing student loyalty: An approach based on the concept of relationship quality. Journal of Service Research, 3(4), 331–344.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Henning, G. W. (2012). Leveraging student engagement for student and institutional success. About Campus, 17(4), 15–18.

    Google Scholar 

  42. Huselid, M. A., & Day, N. E. (1991). Organizational commitment, job involvement, and turnover: A substantive and methodological analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 76(3), 380–391.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Iskhakova, L., Hilbert, A., & Hoffmann, S. (2016). An integrative model of alumni loyalty—An empirical validation among graduates from German and Russian universities. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 28(2), 129–163.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Koenig-Lewis, N., Asaad, Y., Palmer, A., & Petersone, E. (2016). The effects of passage of time on alumni recall of 'Student Experience'. Higher Education Quarterly, 70(1), 59–80.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Kotler, P., & Fox, K. F. A. (1994). Marketing estratégico para instituições educacionais [strategic marketing for educational institutions]. São Paulo: Editora Atlas.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Litten, L. (1980). Marketing higher education: Benefits and risks for the American academic system. The Journal of Higher Education, 51(1), 40–59.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Mael, F., & Ashforth, B. (1992). Alumni and their alma mater: A partial test of the reformulated model of organizational identification. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 13, 103–123.

    Google Scholar 

  48. Mainardes, E. W., Raposo, M., & Alves, H. (2014). Universities need a market orientation to attract non-traditional stakeholders as new financing sources. Public Organization Review., 14(2), 159–171.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Martin, M., Moriuchi, E., Smith, R., Moeder, J., & Nichols, C. (2015). The importance of university traditions and rituals in building alumni brand communities and loyalty. International Academy of Marketing Studies Journal, 19(3), 107–119.

    Google Scholar 

  50. Mazzarol, T. W., & Soutar, G. N. (1999). Sustainable competitive advantage for educational institutions: A suggested model. The International Journal of Educational Management, 13(6), 287–300.

    Google Scholar 

  51. McAlexander, J. H., & Koenig, H. F. (2001). University experiences, the student-college relationship, and alumni support. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 10(3), 21–44.

    Google Scholar 

  52. McAlexander, J. H., & Koenig, H. F. (2012). Building communities of philanthropy in higher education: Contextual influences. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 17, 122–131.

    Google Scholar 

  53. McAlexander, J. H., Kim, S. K., & Roberts, S. D. (2003). Loyalty: The influences of satisfaction and brand community integration. Journal of Marketing of Theory and Practice, 11(4), 1–11.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Morgan, R. M., & Hunt, S. D. (1994). The commitment-trust theory of relationship marketing. Journal of Marketing, 58(July), 20–38.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Mowday, R. T., Steers, R. M., & Porter, L. W. (1979). The measurement of organizational commitment. Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 14, 224–247.

    Google Scholar 

  56. Newman, M. D., & Petrosko, J. M. (2011). Predictors of alumni association membership. Research in Higher Education, 52(7), 738–759.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Nora, A., & Cabrera, A. F. (1993). The construct validity of institutional commitment: A confirmatory factor analysis. Research in Higher Education, 34(2), 243–262.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Oplatka, I., & Hemsley-Brown, J. (2007). The incorporation of market orientation in the school culture: An essential aspect of school marketing. International Journal of Educational Management, 4, 292–305.

    Google Scholar 

  59. Pedro, I., & Andraz, J. (2019). Alumni commitment in higher education Institutions: Determinants and Empirical Evidence. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, https://doi.org/10.1080/10495142.2019.1656138.

  60. Pedro, E., Leitão, J., & Alves, H. (2016). Does the quality of academic life matter for students’ performance, loyalty and university recommendation? Applied Research in Quality of Life, 11, 293–316.

    Google Scholar 

  61. Pedro, I., Pereira, L., & Carrasqueira, H. (2018). Determinants for the commitment relationship between alumni and the Alma mater. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 28(1), 128–152.

    Google Scholar 

  62. Pedro, I., Mendes, J., & Pereira, L. (2020). Understanding alumni-Alma mater commitment relationships upstream and downstream. Journal of Marketing for Higher Education, 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/08841241.2020.1768200.

  63. Pérez-Esparrells, C., & Torre, E. M. (2012). The challenge of fundraising in universities in Europe. International Journal of Higher Education, 1(2), 55–66.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Ravald, A., & Grönroos, C. (1996). The value concept and relationship marketing. European Journal of Marketing, 30(2), 19–30.

    Google Scholar 

  65. Rojas-Méndez, J., Vasquez-Parraga, A. Z., Kara, A., & Cerda-Urrutia, A. (2009). Determinants of student loyalty in higher education: A tested relationship approach in Latin America. Latin American Business Review, 10(1), 21–39.

    Google Scholar 

  66. Saldaña, J. (2009). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. California: Thousand Oaks Retrieved from: http://stevescollection.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/8/6/13866629/saldana_2009_the-coding-manual-for-qualitative-researchers.pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Sargeant, A., & Woodliffe, L. (2005). The antecedents of donor. Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 16(1), 61–78.

    Google Scholar 

  68. Schlesinger, W., Cervera, A., & Iniesta, M. A. (2015). Key elements in building relationships in the higher education services context. Journal of Promotion Management, 21(4), 475–491.

    Google Scholar 

  69. Schlesinger, W., Cervera, A., & Pérez-Cabañero, C. (2016). Sticking with your university: The importance of satisfaction, trust, image, and shared values. Studies in Higher Education, 5079, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-019-09488-4.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Skari, L. (2014). Community college alumni: Predicting who gives. Community College Review, 42(1), 23–40.

    Google Scholar 

  71. Snijders, I., Wijnia, L., Rikers, R., & Loyens, S. (2019). Alumni loyalty drivers in higher education. Social Psychology of Education, 22(3), 607–627.

    Google Scholar 

  72. Sperlich, A. M. A., & Spraul, K. (2007). Students as active partners: Higher education management in Germany. The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 12(3), 1–19.

    Google Scholar 

  73. Stake, R. E. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  74. Stemler, S. (2001). An overview of content analysis. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(17), 137–146.

    Google Scholar 

  75. Tom, G., & Elmer, L. (1994). Alumni willingness to give and contribution behaviour. Journal of Services Marketing, 8(2), 57–62.

    Google Scholar 

  76. Weerts, D. J., & Ronca, J. M. (2007). Profiles of supportive alumni: Donors, volunteers, and those who “do it all”. International Journal of Educational Advancement, 7(1), 20–34.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Weerts, D. J., Cabrera, A. F., & Sanford, T. (2010). Beyond giving: Political advocacy and volunteer behaviors of public university alumni. Research in Higher Education, 51, 346–365.

    Google Scholar 

  78. Wikström, S. (1995). The customer as co-producer. European Journal of Marketing, 30(4), 6–19.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Wilkins, S. & Huisman, J. (2013). The components of student–university identification and their impacts on the behavioural intentions of prospective students. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 35(6), 586–598.

  80. Wilkins, S., & Huisman, J. (2014). Corporate images' impact on consumers' product choices: The case of multinational foreign subsidiaries. Journal of Business Research, 67(10), 2224–2230.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ilda Maria Pedro.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pedro, I.M., Mendes, J.C., Pereira, L.N. et al. Alumni’s perceptions about commitment towards their university: drivers and consequences. Int Rev Public Nonprofit Mark 17, 469–491 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12208-020-00259-y

Download citation

Keywords

  • Relationship marketing
  • University
  • Alumni
  • Commitment-relationship
  • Perceptions
  • Focus group