Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Marketing

First Advisor

Raghuram Iyengar

Abstract

Social learning broadly refers to learning through the acquisition of information from social sources. In the three essays of my dissertation, I investigate the various underlying drivers of social learning and how such learning can impact purchase decisions.

In Essay 1, I investigate the link between social learning and

sales of experiential products. In particular, I focus on how social capital (i.e., the propensity for people to trust and communicate with each other) moderates the level of social learning for experiential products and thus impacts aggregate sales.

In Essay 2, I study how social learning operates differently across the various stages of physician prescription - trial and repeat of a new prescription drug. Given that the mechanisms of social influence varies across trial and repeat stages, the second essay further assesses who is most influential and who is most influenceable across stages.

In Essay 3, I examine how consumers make purchases of experiential products and link it to their active search for information from interdependent social sources. Essay 3 assesses the impact of the pattern of similarity of preferences in individual-level social networks (homophily, i.e., the tendency of individuals to associate with similar others, and structural balance, i.e., the congruency of preference in a social network) on consumer search, learning, and purchase.

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