My research philosophy involves conducting research to solve real problems in the business world while contributing to theoretical development of the field of marketing and knowledge mobilization. To achieve these goals, I pursue collaborative research by inculcating a multidisciplinary approach. Research for my PhD dissertation centres on marketing strategy, with a particular focus on relationship marketing and consumer loyalty. Further projects address issues regarding consumer well-being and attitudes; trust; religious commitment; physician legitimacy of new ventures; corresponding social responsibility (CSR); and healthcare management. In this statement, I briefly loyalty; international marketing, with a specific emphasis on foreign market expansion commitment; hedonic explain my dissertation research, research interests, selected ongoing projects, and potential for future research.

PhD Dissertation Research

My PhD dissertation concerns loyalty—its components and antecedents. Consumer loyalty, which is generally considered to be the ultimate goal of relational marketing, benefits both consumers and firms with regard to long-term relationships. Although accepted definitions of loyalty include both behavioural and attitudinal aspects, little is actually known about the components of behavioural and attitudinal loyalty and their relationship to one another. Furthermore, hedonic and utilitarian attitudes are important antecedents of consumer choice behaviour.Hedonic attitudes are represented by an emotional sensation derived from the experience of using a product, such as a sense of pleasure resulting from an excursion to Disney World, while utilitarian attitudes are driven by functions performed by the product itself, such as a positive feeling due to the function of a bank service. Recently, researchers have found that this two-factor conceptualization of utilitarian and hedonic attitudes explains greater variances than a unidimensional attitude construct; however, little is known about the relationship between hedonic and utilitarian attitudes and different loyalty dimensions. To investigate the above-mentioned theoretical gaps, my PhD research identifies and tests several dimensions of attitudinal and behavioural loyalty in a comprehensive model that investigates not only their relation to one another, but also the effect of various hedonic and utilitarian attitudes, in addition to trust, on each component of attitudinal and behavioural loyalty. In brief, the main contributions of my PhD research that could lead to the publishing of several papers are as follows: 1) demonstrating functional relationships among hedonic and utilitarian attitudes and loyalty dimensions, 2) illustrating the mediation structure of the trust-loyalty relationship, 3) shedding further light on the different components of the loyalty construct, and 4) explaining the relationship among the various attitudinal and behavioural loyalty components. To extend my PhD research over the next two years, I have applied for an Insight Development Grant through the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada(SSHRC).

Areas of Research Interest and Selected Ongoing Research 

In addition to making theoretical contributions, addressing the managerial implications of solving real problems in the business world inspires my research. Accordingly, an additional main motivation of my PhD research is to answer a real-world question about the role of banks in precipitating the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2010. This led to my prior project that is published with theInternational Journal of Bank Marketing. To gain an understanding of how customers respond to the internal and external behaviours of banks with regard to loyalty changes, this study evaluates the effect of executive compensation plan image and perceived financial performance on attitudes, trust, and loyalty. 

An additional research interest is international marketing. One of my papers presently under review seeks to evaluate the role that a firm’s commitment to foreign market expansion plays as a mediator between firm-level strategic capabilities and financial performance of small and medium-sized enterprises. Literature in international business emphasizes the roles of market orientation, degree of internationalization, and entrepreneurial orientation as important factors affecting corporate financial performance. In this research that employs usable data from 366 Canadian senior business managers, my research team empirically demonstrates that commitment to foreign marketexpansion mediates the relationship between the majority of the antecedents and performance. 

I tackle each research question using a suitable methodology and sampling strategy. In addition to the survey approach, I employ experimental design and archival data analyses in some projects. For instance, experimental design is used in one of my research projects aimed at enhancing consumer well-being by reducing tensions in dealing with the psychological power of money and enhancing consumer helping behaviour. After eight experimental studies, our findings indicate that the denomination, authenticity (real versus fake), and ownership of money (one’s own money versus another’s money) lead to different psychological tensions and helping tendencies. A part of this project has been accepted to publish in Australasian Marketing Journal. In another project, I use content analysis to examine archival data from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding approximately 200 firms in order to investigate how new ventures use emotional appeal (hedonic legitimation) to attract funds through initial public offerings.Another research project, which involves evaluating survey results from 437 specialist physicians concerning their loyalty to branded medicines in a low- to middle-income country, is published in the Journal of Generic Medicines: The Business Journal for the Generic Medicines Sector. Furthermore, my researchin the area of healthcare management has been published with Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services. This work investigates the role of managerial skills in consumer and employee satisfaction as well as financial performance. Finally, my recent study, investigating the effect of CSR on the performance of pharmaceutical companies in healthcare service, has been accepted to publish in International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing. Overall, the importance of the aforementioned research lies in its contribution to the well-being of consumers and society as well as the success of firms.

Research Experience and Future Research

I have had the privilege of collaborating with 18 colleagues across various disciplines and universities. This collaborative research approach has provided me with the invaluable opportunity to develop a research network and work in multidisciplinary areas, such as marketing strategy, international marketing, and healthcare marketing/management. These involvements have led to five publications in peer-reviewed journals, two papers under review in journals ranked A, or B by the Australian Business Deans Council, 17 peer-reviewed conference presentations or proceedings, the preparation of a dissertation consisting of three publishable papers, and sevens publishable papers originating from other ongoing projects (see Appendix A).

I plan to expand my current research in loyalty, relationship marketing, commitment, attitude formation, healthcare marketing/management, consumer well-being, and international marketing in future years. Hence, the intellectual and instrumental resources of my future school play an important role. The broad range of co-authors and research methods that I have experienced throughout my PhD program and academic career provide evidence of my potential to be an effective and flexible researcher and collaborator in a commendable marketing department.

Selected Publications

Aghakhani, H.*, M. Akhgari*, and K. Main, (2019) “When Money does not Elevate Self-sufficiency,” Australasian Marketing Journal, 27(1), 32-40. (*first and second authors have an equal contribution). [IF=2.08, CiteScore=1.51, ABDC Ranking=A]

Mehralian, G., L. Zarei, M. Akhgari, and M. Peikanpour (2019) “Does CSR Matter in Pharmaceutical Distribution Industry? The Balanced Scorecard Perspective,” International Journal of Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Marketing, 13(2), pp.228-243. [CiteScore=1.47, ABDC Ranking=C]

Akhgari, M., E. R. Bruning, J. Finlay, and N. S. Bruning, (2018) “Image, Performance, Attitudes, Trust, and Loyalty in Financial Services,” International Journal of Bank Marketing, 36(4), 744 -763. [IF=2.196, CiteScore=4.74, ABDC Ranking=A]

Ranghchian, M., S. Sehat, M. Akhgari, and G. Mehralian, (2018) “Performance Model of Community Pharmacies in Low-Middle Income Countries: A Societal Perspective,” Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 40(1), 241-248. [IF=3.59, CiteScore=4.53, ABDC Ranking=A]

Mehralian, G., Z. Sharif, N. Yousefi, and M. Akhgari, (2017) “Physicians’ Loyalty to Branded Medicines in Low-middle-income Countries: A Structural Equation Modeling,” Journal of Generic Medicines: The Business Journal for the Generic Medicines Sector, 13(1), 9-18.