An Examination of the Leisure Involvement - Agency Commitment Relationship
Kyle, Gerard T., Mowen, Andrew J., Journal of Leisure Research
While the study of the leisure involvement and agency commitment constructs has received considerable attention in the leisure literature over the past decade, the exact nature of their relationship remains a topic for scholarly debate. Havitz and colleagues have begun to provide some clarity in this regard and have suggested that commitment to specific leisure service providers is a product of a developmental process where recreationists become involved with leisure activities and, over time, develop preferences for specific service providers and their associated products (Gahwiler & Havitz, 1998; Havitz & Dimanche, 1997; Iwasaki & Havitz, 1998; 2004; Pritchard, Havitz, & Howard, 1999). Empirical examinations of this relationship, however, remain scant. Therefore, we built from both conceptual and the available empirical work appearing in the literature and tested a model of the involvement-commitment relationship using data collected from consumers of a public leisure service.
The importance of committed recreationists to leisure service providers has received considerable attention in the leisure literature over the past decade. For the most part, committed recreationists are considered an asset to the service provider (Gahwiler & Havitz, 1998). For profit-driven providers, client retention is regarded as an important organizational goal. This is borne out of studies which have demonstrated customer retention yields greater profits (Reichheld & Sasser, 1990) and a realization that the cost of maintaining clients is substantially less than the cost of attracting new ones (Fornell & Wernfelt, 1987). This was illustrated in Howard's (1992) study of the adult fitness market where he observed that two percent of all adults accounted for up to 75% of participation in six sport and fitness activities. Reichheld and Sasser also observed that in several industries a reduction of 5% in the number of customers lost corresponded with 25 to 85% increases in profitability. They suggested that customers become more profitable to the company over time because of product referrals, require less in terms of operating costs, and tend to purchase a greater volume and a higher proportion of premium products.
For public agencies, a similar picture has emerged. Historically, many public leisure service providers have relied on government support for the provision of their services. In times of economic recession and fiscal conservatism, however, these agencies have been pressed to be more fiscally independent. They have responded by imposing pricing structures that are at least commensurate with the cost of service provision. Consequently, the retention of fee-paying and loyal constituents has also become an important consideration. Of the dwindling appropriations that are available, however, constituent support remains an important factor for resource acquisition. Services that are strongly supported in the community are less likely to experience programmatic budget reductions than those that are perceived to be of low priority.
Leisure researchers' conceptualization of leisure involvement was influenced by the early work of Muzafer Sherif and colleagues' investigations of ego-attitudes and ego-involvement. He conceptualized the ego as a constellation of values, goals, standards, or norms that are shaped by the social world(s) within which the individual exists. Ego-attitudes are a manifestation of this value set and vary in priority and importance (Sherif & Cantril, 1947; C. Sherif, 1980). They are activated when a cognitive connection is made between stimuli (i.e., the attitude object) and elements of the ego or self system. Sherif and colleagues demonstrated that individual response to specific stimuli is determined by the strength of the cognitive connection between the self and the attitude object …
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Publication information: Article title: An Examination of the Leisure Involvement - Agency Commitment Relationship. Contributors: Kyle, Gerard T. - Author, Mowen, Andrew J. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Leisure Research. Volume: 37. Issue: 3 Publication date: Summer 2005. Page number: 342+. © 1999 National Recreation and Park Association. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group.
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