Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Ingrid J. Guerra-Lopez

Abstract

This study seeks to improve the contributions of performance consultants, instructional design consultants, and training consultants by explaining the effect that several variables have on trust as a mediator to relationship commitment within the context of the client-consultant relationship. The participants were 521 college students from two 4-year universities. Participants were randomly assigned to one of eight scenario-based questionnaires which measured the effect of three manipulated variables - perceived level of expertise, shared values, and sharing of meaningful information - on trust as a mediator to relationship commitment. The ability to trust, the comparison level of the alternative, and dependence were measured as control variables. Both structural equation modeling and multiple linear regression were utilized to determine variable relationships. Trust was found to partially mediate between sharing of meaningful information and relationship commitment, as well as between shared values and relationship commitment. Perceived level of expertise was not found to be a predictor or trust, but rather, a predictor of shared values which partially mediates between perceived level of expertise and trust. Shared values was found to be a core construct that mediates between perceived level of expertise and relationship commitment and sharing of meaningful information and trust. Sharing of meaningful information was similarly found to be a key factor that affected perceived level of expertise, shared values, and trust. Perceived level of expertise partially mediates between sharing of meaningful information and shared values. The data suggest that trust covaries strongly with relationship commitment, shared values, and sharing of meaningful information in the client-consultant context. Sharing of meaningful and perceived level of expertise have a strong, positive, correlation. The findings suggest that consultants can pro-actively manage the relationships with their clients by focusing on the key factors that influence trust and thus ultimately affect overall relationship commitment.