Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Patricia Mitchell

Second Advisor

Stephen Cary

Third Advisor

Betty Taylor


The study of customer-initiated defection from one provider of services to another has been studied extensively in the business-to-consumer market. The reason to study defection patterns and analytics is to allow businesses to identify and control antecedents to defection that in turn will generate increased customer loyalty, market share, and profitability. Keaveney's study of defection was the starting point for understanding the key criteria individuals used to switch their purchasing criteria.

This research adds to existing defection theory by addressing the narratives of eight individuals who switched their vendor relationship in the small-parcel package industry. Prior to this research, no studies addressed this specific industry. Previous research mainly addressed attempts to understand antecedents and critical events that led to defection in consumer markets. These generalized findings of defection in consumer markets fail to extend to other industries and provide limited value to marketing and sales departments looking to understand ways to gain new business and keep highly profitable existing customers.

The findings from this research extend the theory of defection energy first proposed by Hollmann by understanding the temporal process a highly relational industry like small-parcel delivery requires. In addition, research shows that neither price nor service performance are effective criteria when deciding to convert to an alternative carrier. The three reasons identified for defection in the small-parcel industry were (a) account representation, (b) poor problem resolution, and (c) unique service offerings. These three key findings will allow companies in highly relational industries to better understand how to increase profitability and market share and reduce defection.

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