Independent Study / Honors Students

Independent study is not for the weak of heart. Two options exist, a 4 credit hour study or an 8 credit hour study. Independently research a field of interest, study perceptions of a small sample of individuals in depth, write the results up in a thesis that can be converted into a publishable article. Learning outcomes include the ability to independently assess a body of literature, apply contemporary qualitative research techniques that examine in-depth the nature of human thinking, and demonstrate an application of findings to managers in todays competitive environment.

Current students research topics:

  • Perceptions of e-service in online retail operations a study of college students and working professionals.
  • Cross cultural perceptions of e-service online retail operations in Germany and America.
  • Perceptions of personal branding of online marketing consultants.
  • Strategies for effective search engine optimization in retail electronic environments.
  • Perceptions of e-service in electronic banking environments.

Study: Christopher Adams, Honors Student

Title and nature of research:

"Marketing Professionals' Perceptions of Personal Branding and Personally Branded Websites."
Purpose: Simply stated, visitors to a site don't want to have to work to find what they're looking for. They like graphic displays to prevent a site from being dry, without being excessive or distracting. On the opposite side of the spectrum, they don't like to be overwhelmed with massive amounts of undigestible text. The personally branded site cannot give the impression of a false facade or gimmick, or try too hard to play the race or gender cards. The individual must put forth an impression of honesty, integrity, and the ability to interact in a down-to-earth, "human" manner.
Methods: Includes interviews of 20 marketing and management professionals, including academics and members of commerce/industry. During the interview, subjects are presented with three sites and instructed to specify any ways in which one is different from the other two (as a method of juxtapositioning and exaggeration of differences). Following transcription of the interviews, the transcripts are to be reviewed to glean personal construct chains from observations (the trains of thoughts individuals go through after noticing something about the site, with the possible ends of "It makes me happy, it makes me sad, or it doesn't affect me." The construct chains are then applied to a framework based on existing secondary research.
Study: Daniela Ribinski, Honors Student 

Title and nature of research: 

“Consumers' Perceptions of Website Characteristics in B2C E-commerce – A Cross-Cultural Analysis between Germany and the USA."

Purpose: This study is designed to explore differences between the German and US college-aged consumers’ perceptions of websites that are used in business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce. The impact of cultural differences is explored to examine the degree of homogeneity within the online customers and suggestions for the need of cultural adaptation will be made. Effective websites for this group of consumers are crucial as they will make up the majority of online sales in the near future.

Methods: The findings of this empirical study are based on 30 interviews, 15 of which were conducted with German and US college students each. In accordance with the Means-End Approach these interviews were designed to elicit differences that each respondent sees in websites and to find out underlying values creating value chains. They had to be transcribed and the German ones translated into English. During the coding process elements of each respondent’s value chain were extracted. The analysis will show how the level of uniformity in the value chains between the different groups of respondents.

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