Balancing the desirable with the feasible: a study of how marketing and operations need to work together to ensure that branding promises can be delivered in practice.
The concept of student as customer and marrying the concept of treating the student as a customer whilst delivering tertiary education which is both effective and rigorous is an issue which is currently being strongly debated.The objective of this thesis is to consider the student as a principle customer in the delivery of a particular brand of knowledge product, and the level of customer satisfaction they receive relative to the knowledge brand of their choice. Brand refers to the name and reputation of the knowledge provider, Auckland University of Technology, and the level and type of qualification achieved, the MBA degree.The marketing function promotes the brand. The day-to-day management of the process of learning is performed through operations. Thus, in providing tertiary education, how is the brand and the desired objectives of customer satisfaction promoted with the brand, balanced with organisational competencies when applied to the AUT MBA learning process.A triangulation approach has been applied in conducting both qualitative and quantitative research involving MBA students, lecturers and management staff at AUT in order to ascertain whether marketing promises were met. Key findings were that the perception of the quality of the MBA programme showed a statistically significant difference between satisfaction levels of graduate MBA students and undergraduate MBA students in the areas of flexibility, student orientation and support provided with applications and enrolment. Furthermore, the collective responses for both groups of students for all questions showed that although both groups of students appeared to demonstrate a general level of satisfaction with the MBA course, there was a general movement away from strong agreement for graduate students towards strong disagreement for undergraduate students. The results were analysed and recommendations made to enhance the marketing, management, delivery and assessment of the AUT MBA programme.