The FINANCIAL -- On October 12, the first dissertation proposal was presented at Caucasus University. The dissertation proposal was submitted by Buba Lezhava, in partial fulfilment of requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
The name of the dissertation proposal was “The Impact of Familiarity and Involvement on the Evaluation Process of Perceived Service Quality” and covered issues such as service quality, customer expectations, perceived Service Quality Measurement, Relationship between Service Quality and Customer Satisfaction, Application of Involvement, Involvement with Product or Service, Measurement of Involvement Construct, Familiarity and Perceived Service Quality, Assessment of Familiarity and Involvement level, Critical Incident Study, etc.
“Growing importance of the service sector in the worldwide economy is vivid. Coalition of Service Industries (CSI) released a new study in which they state that the service sector represents the largest portion of the U.S private sector GDP - Gross Domestic Product (approximately 8.5 trillion). US service exports reached USD 414 billion in 2006, with a surplus of USD 73billion.
There is a growing market for services and increasing dominance of services in economics worldwide, not just in the United States,” said Lezhava. “The goal of the study is to explore the effect of familiarity and involvement constructs on the evaluation process of service quality by the consumer. The study focuses on the understanding of the underlying, conceptual causes of difference in evaluation of service quality. We argue, based on the level of familiarity of a consumer with the services and the level of product involvement that the evaluation process will vary.”
The members of the dissertation proposal defence board were: Bijan Fazlollahi, Professor and Director (Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) Naveen Donthu, Professor at the Department of Marketing (Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA), Mzia Mikeladze (Tbilisi State University), Beso Abuladze (People’s Bank), and George Turkia (Caucasus University).
“Actually it is very difficult to find an idea to work on, I have quite a good experience in service marketing, since I was giving lectures on this subject for almost 4 years in Georgia. I also attended several PH.D classes on this subject at Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. One of them was a consumer behaviour class, which was a great help. I had the opportunity to combine knowledge I received from two different sources and get the final product- this proposal for my dissertation. The PH.D course I took in the United States was a major challenge. It was quite difficult and time consuming, but as I said the most important issue was finding a topic which is new, interesting and unexplored. I was happy to be the first to work on this topic. I have to say that Dr. Donthu, Coordinator of the PH.D program in marketing, at Georgia state university was very helpful. His assistance was very important and I am truly grateful for all his ideas and suggestions.I think my research will be quite helpful for the Georgian market, since 82% of business is service oriented. My research will assist companies in assessing their service quality and achieving better results. This research will help them find out which are the problem areas, and which are their advantageous points,” declared Lezhava.
“I think Buba did a very good job. I have been working with him for the last two years. I knew that he was a good candidate and today he has showed that. He was extremely competent in his area of study. I’m confident that he will make a good researcher. I think the best part was the way he answered questions. The presentation was not that big of a challenge since he was prepared for that, but he didn't know what questions he would have to answer on the spot. Nevertheless he did an excellent job,” said Donthu.
“This is a very significant event because Buba is going to be the first PH.D recipient in the whole country and I am happy to be a part of it. I’m very proud to be a member of the dissertation proposal defence board,” Donthu added.
“The subject of this dissertation proposal, which is about service quality, is very tangible in the modern world. Service makes up most of every countries economy these days. In the stage of active development Georgia needs world class higher education establishments, we hope that Caucasus University in partnership with Georgia State University, will reach this level to serve the needs of Georgia. It is worth mentioning that Georgia State University has one of the largest PH.D programs in the United States. We have about 100 PH.D students, so offer PH.Ds in almost every field in business, from finance, marketing, management, to subjects like real estate,” Fazlollahi added.
According to George Simongulashvili, Vice-President for Academic Affairs At CU this project was launched with support of the US department of the state bureau of Educational and cultural affairs in 2004. A grant of USD 400.000 was issued for the implementation of this CU PH.D program.
“Since the PH.D program is not a profitable program, we do not have any graduates yet. The capacity necessary for this program is not yet built. The program that has already been funded will be ending this year, so we have applied to USAID to support the project’s continuation for the next 3-4 years. The response has been positive, but we do not yet have a final answer. Further implementation of this project will have a positive effect on the business sector of the country, since high quality education is a precondition of professionalism and efficient performance in any sphere. This project will have a long-term effect and we are happy to be a part of it,” said Simongulashvili.