An analysis of factors influencing quality perceptions and purchase of office furniture
Hansen, Bruce G.
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This dissertation presents an in depth investigation of the office furniture industry and of the factors that influence selection and purchase of office furniture. It also utilizes data obtained in a national survey of nearly 270 office furniture buyers to investigate several general conceptual marketing issues. The industry-specific investigation includes a look at the history of the office and at events during the past 2-1/2 decades that have impacted the market for office furniture. It also includes a comparative look at the relative performance of wood (SIC 2521) and metal (SIC 2522) industry sectors. The performance of the office furniture industry is also compared with the wood household furniture industry (SIC 2511). This report includes a detailed look at the industry's changing product mix and use of wood-based materials. While the total use of wood-based material inputs by the industry was at record levels for all material categories in 1987, use on a per unit of output basis declined in several material categories. Material preferences, as expressed by survey respondents, indicated that solid wood is still rated highly and is the material of choice for interior and exterior applications in conventional office furniture manufacture. Twenty-six attributes of office furniture and of dealer/manufacturer services were rated on dual 7- and 5-point Likert scales for importance and difference, respectively. The most important attribute was the ability of the dealer manufacturer to provide products free of defects. However, when differences in the performance of suppliers or products were taken into account, the top determinant attribute was the ability to deliver on schedule. Comparisons of quality and selection and purchase ratings suggested that respondents tended to rate attributes on the bases of their use in selection and purchase higher overall than they rated their use in assessing quality. However, the relative ranking of attributes within the two sets of ratings were highly correlated. Respondent ratings of the 26 attributes were utilized in a multivariate study of quality dimensions employing confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses. Results of these analyses supported operationalization of most of Garvin's eight dimensions of quality.
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