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Total Quality Management Vol. 20, No.

12, December 2009, 1407–1421

Knowledge sharing and customer relationship management in the travel service alliances
Edward C.S. Kuaà and Yi Wen Fanb
a Department of Travel Management, National Kaohsiung Hospitality College, 1 Sung-Ho RD, Hsiao-Kang Kaohsiung 812, Taiwan, ROC; bNational Central University, 300 Jhongda Road, Jhongli City, Taoyuan County 32001, Taiwan, ROC

Airline companies are employing strategic alliances to increase their competitiveness in service quality, innovation and cost due to the changed business environment resulting from increased competition in the airlines market. In the e-commerce era, the relationship change between airlines and travel agents makes it important for both parties to provide integrated solutions to customer needs. The goal of this study is to determine how knowledge sharing among members of travel agencies and airlines affects the customer relationship management (CRM) profitability of travel agencies. We formulated a CRM profitability model and used a mailed questionnaire survey to investigate travel agency staff in Taiwan, of which 337 returned completed questionnaires. The findings reveal the nature and practical complexities associated with knowledge sharing in travel industry alliances, and suggest how a travel agent can create an appropriate knowledge sharing strategy and increase CRM profitability by information technology. Keywords: knowledge sharing; travel agent; customer relationship management; collaboration

1.

Introduction

Collaboration makes possible the conduct of co-operative activity between firms and creates opportunities for participating companies to appropriate benefits from their involvement in an alliance. Previous studies have argued that customers now look for lower ticket prices and travel packages on the Internet, but their concern with journey complexity will result in most customers comparing prices from different airline companies but still ordering tour packages from travel agents (Suzuki et al., 2001). The change in the relationship between airlines and travel agents makes it important for both of them to provide integrated solutions to customer needs. Airline companies are employing strategic alliances to increase their competitiveness in service quality (Suzuki et al., 2001), innovation and cost (Francis et al., 2004) due to the changed business environment resulting from increased competition in the airlines market (Evans, 2001), strategic alliances between airlines (Morrish, 2002), the concern of firms about business travel costs (Alamdari, 2002) and the development of online booking (Park et al., 2001). Customer relationship management (CRM) is one of the most discussed topics in the e-commerce era. However, there is a lack of research on the impact of such
Ã

Corresponding author. Email: edwardku@mcu.edu.tw

ISSN 1478-3363 print/ISSN 1478-3371 online # 2009 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/14783360903248880 http://www.informaworld.com

1408 E.C.S. Ku and Y.W. Fan knowledge sharing between airlines and travel agents’ collaboration on customer relationships. From the perspective of the role of travel agents, travel agents should devise suitable packages for customers and provide their employees with sufficient knowledge of travel products and airline alliances. Knowledge sharing between airlines and travel agents is important to help such alliances to create, share and use knowledge effectively (Cooper, 2006; Gartner, 2001), and it is a prerequisite for alliance and their associated information systems to have an increasingly customer-centric focus (Jarvenpaa & Staples, 2000; Jones & Jordan, 1998; Spencer, 2003). A travel agent has to exhibit a good knowledge on markets, customers, products and services, methods and processes, competitors, employee skills and the regulatory environment of IT. In collaboration between airlines and travel agents, travel agents have traditionally remained the most important link to customers in the travel industry since they function as an intermediary between the suppliers of tour products and services (i.e. transport companies: airlines, cruise ship companies, railroads, bus companies and car rental firms; accommodation: hotels, motels and camp sites; and leisure and recreational activities: theatres, art galleries and theme parks) and customers (i.e. tourists and business tourists). Essentially, travel agents provide customers with knowledge about the tourist products and services that they distribute (Kerstetter & Cho, 2004; Xiao & Smith, 2007). In today’s highly competitive environment, knowledge sharing between alliances is essential to ensure that value is obtained from knowledge internal and external to the organisation. Developing a closer relationship with customers may allow travel agents to gain a competitive advantage and, through increased switching costs, allow them to defend it. Over time individual customers typically provide a company with information about their individual needs, wants and preferences (Kandampully, 2006), a costly process that they are reluctant to repeat with a rival. Moreover, effective CRM can lead to increased employee satisfaction. The research goal of this study was to determine how knowledge sharing among members of travel agencies and airlines alliances affects the CRM profitability of travel agents. We collected travel agent samples using a mailed questionnaire survey in Taiwan, and we tested the model and hypotheses using a structural equation modelling (SEM) approach. In particular, we aimed to examine the full range of variables that have been identified in prior studies and to test the completeness of the model. Section 2 details the motivation of this study, followed by a review of previous research in Section 3. The research framework and research design are then presented in Section 4. Finally, the research findings and conclusions are reported in Sections 5 and 6, respectively.

2. Literature review 2.1 Information system success model: DeLone and McLean perspective DeLone and McLean (D&M) formulated an information systems (IS) success model using information and system quality to determine the efficiency of an IS. The primary purpose of the original D&M’s paper was to synthesise previous research involving IS success into a more coherent body of knowledge and to provide guidance to future researchers. In the D&M IS success model, ‘systems quality’ measures technical success; ‘information quality’ measures semantic success; and ‘use, user satisfaction, individual impacts’ and ‘organisational impacts’ measure CRM profitability.

Total Quality Management 1409 Their comprehensive review of IS success measures makes two important contributions to the understanding of IS success (Pitt et al., 1995, 1997; Yoon et al., 1995). First, it postulates a scheme for classifying a multitude of IS success measure into six aspects: system quality; information quality; system support; individual impact; organisational impact; and user satisfaction. Second, it suggests a model of ‘temporal and causal’ interdependencies between these categories. Based on the model, several IS success measures are proposed: system efficiency; business CRM profitability; improved decision quality and success; perceived benefit of systems; level of system usage; and user satisfaction. 2.2 Collaboration between airlines and travel agents The role of travel agents in all regions has changed, though at different speeds. Internetgenerated bookings have steadily increased among US and European airlines with lowcost carriers leading the way, and the focus of agents has been changing from reservations to the provision of advice and consultancy for corporations (Alamdari, 2002), with agents acting as advisers to their corporate clients, helping them develop and enforce travel management policies. Airline companies are employing strategic alliances to increase their competitiveness in service quality, innovation and cost (Francis et al., 2004) due to the changed business environment resulting from increased competition in the airlines market (Evans, 2001), strategic alliances between airlines (Morrish, 2002), the concern of firms about business travel costs (Alamdari, 2002) and the development of online booking collaboration (Park et al., 2001). There are three types of collaboration between airlines and travel agents. The first is between airlines themselves, where the alliance colleagues are likely to increase their traffic on alliance routes when their operations are well co-ordinated and the airlines maintain their flight frequencies, with evidence that such alliances increase profitability having been provided by Gellman Research Associates (1994). The characteristics of such collaboration are controlled by market or government policies (Evans, 2001; Oum & Park, 1997; Park & Zhang, 1998), and they can also provide benefits to customers. The second type of collaboration is between travel agents, which are based on market and service strategies (Huang, 2006), such as between general travel agencies and tour operator travel agencies. The degree of co-operation and the realisation of expected goals should be considered as performance indicators of the strategic collaboration. The third type of collaboration is between airlines and travel agents. In such collaboration on average 17% of the airline operating cost is attributable to distribution costs associated with commissions to travel agents, ticketing, credit card fees, central reservation systems (CRS) costs, and promotions (Alamdari, 2002). From the competition perspective, information exchanges are required with both the service provider and the consumer (Smith, 2004). The present study addressed this third type of alliance between airlines and travel agents. Travel agents provide customers with information about the tourist products and services that they distribute. There are two types of travel agencies: wholesale and retail. A wholesale travel agent (or wholesaler) specialises in contracting large amounts of tourist products and services (e.g. travel agent room nights and flight seats) at advantageous prices. These products and services are then normally offered to retail travel agencies. Wholesalers also organise tour packages that are offered to retail agencies. However, companies that are responsible for organising packages are usually referred to as tour operators. As a result, there is a lack of consensus about whether tour operators are wholesalers

1410 E.C.S. Ku and Y.W. Fan or a specific type of wholesaler showing peculiar characteristics. On the other hand, a retailer travel agent sells tourist products and services directly to the consumer and may also design tailor-made tours for individual customers.

2.3

Customer relationships in alliances between airlines and travel agents

Bostrom (1989) pointed out that information technology changes very quickly and that both airlines and travel agencies make use of information and tools in order to provide a competitive advantage. Customer satisfaction can be increased by analysing the internal functions of travel agents and the current customer demands, so that innovations produce a re-engineering of processes and functions aimed at creating value for their customers. Colleagues in an alliance have both common and individual corporate goals. For decades, tourists, business and leisure customers have greatly relied on travel agents for travel information and tour packages. The common belief was that they would obtain better deals and advice from agents than from airline staff. Travel agents generally considerably impact on the airline choices of customers (Alamdari, 2002), with the customers also being concerned about the security of purchasing tickets online. Travel agents will continue to play a significant role in all regions, but they need to move away from being ticket bookers to providing value-added services to customers. Travel agents face an increasingly competitive market, and the basis of the competition is changing. Location, a key driver of business, is fixed in the short and medium term and attracting and retaining customers based on facilities and amenities is becoming increasingly difficult as these features become increasingly standardised across competing brands. Price competition is unattractive, even more so as consumers are able to find and compare prices easily on the Internet. As a consequence consumers are increasingly displaying less brand loyalty, which makes the CRM an increasingly attractive way for travel agency companies to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

3.

Research model

In CRM activities, a customer-oriented firm will integrate their service processes to create their target and market strategies (Skaates & Seppeanen, 2005; Vogt & Fesenmaier, 1998). CRM profitability is probably one of the most fundamental and extensively studied topics in marketing and service management. From a systems success view, the profitability based on the systems using of an organisation – while considering the conceptual CRM function perspective – resulted in the research model of this study as depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Research model.

Total Quality Management 1411 This CRM issue should therefore be examined in light of both marketing and IS literatures. Customers have also increasingly become the end-user of information technology applications with the emergence of electronic commerce (Davenport & De-Long, 1998). For many firms, the strong quality management of process, customer information and system has become an essential ingredient for successful competition. 3.1 Customer relationship management profitability We have discussed how system support and system efficiency have addressed the IS success that is associated with corporate CRM profitability. In the customer information-centric characteristic of CRM, travel agents should analyse customers’ travel experiences and requests, then respond to and support their needs. CRM requires the perfect alignment with ever-changing customers’ needs based on the integrated reliable product knowledge and customer information from airline companies. By using an information system, travel agents book tickets from an airline, reserve hotel rooms and arrange travel products for guests. Information technology is considered as an important enabler of knowledge sharing. Use of information technology is extremely important for travel agents today because storing, sharing, using and presentation of knowledge through face-to-face communication are managed beyond time and space. Knowledge sharing requires a firmly established information technology and culture between travel agent and airline alliance. Information technologies can be used to lower temporal and spatial barriers between knowledge workers, and improve access to knowledge. It has been previously demonstrated that CRM can result in the successful application of technology to marketing, sales and service (Chan, 2005), such as integrated call centres, on-line analytical processing (OLAP) and data warehouse applications. Moreover, much of the research conducted from a marketing perspective has shown that CRM is essential for creating an environment in which employees are motivated to be customer focused. CRM provides analytical, operational and direction capabilities: the analytical capabilities enhance profitability maximisation from the customer relationship (Plakoyiannaki & Tzokas, 2002), operational capabilities cut across the customer value process and direction capabilities depend on strategic skills and reflect the sharpness of long-term co-operation and organisational values. Operational CRM consists of specifying a suitable and replicable business (Tanner et al., 2005), and analytical CRM refers to the firm-level processes involved in analysing customers and the market. 3.2 System support A measure of the CRM system was measured by systems’ performance (Negash et al., 2003). If the system has been implemented and adopted successfully, a firm is able to reap its benefits. The potential benefits to a firm are related to the impact dimension of system success. The determining criteria in assessment of system support are the success characteristics of the systems under study. These concern resource utilisation; reliability, response time and ease of terminal use; data accuracy, reliability, completeness, system flexibility and ease of use; and consistency of the user interface, quality of documentation and sometimes, quality and maintainability of the program code (Seddon, 1997). The penetration of the system into the market, and the reaction of competitors are the factors discussed in the literature to impact on a firm’s ability to reap these benefits (Cavaye & Cragg, 1995). If competitors react by implementing a similar system, the competitive edge gained by the first organisation may only be temporary. Often the use of IT

1412 E.C.S. Ku and Y.W. Fan becomes a strategic necessity within the industry. This paper considers favourable system investment, implementation level, integration of CRM system with existing MIS systems, and an open networking system for sales force, which will reinforce the relationship between system supporters and customers.
H1a: System support of CRM is positively associated with employee satisfaction.

3.3

Systems efficiency

IS implementation success is frequently defined in terms of the achievement of some predetermined goals, which normally include multiple efficiency parameters such as time, cost and function. Efficiency is an important and useful measure of success, which is closely related to, but different from, productivity. Unlike productivity, technical efficiency has been studied less frequently by IS researchers. When the purpose of IT investments is to improve operational efficiency, many traditional appraisal techniques may be considered appropriate. Such investments are largely geared to the generation of tangible (financial) benefits, and are based on direct (financial) project costs. Such operational IT deployments have traditionally exploited the efficiency benefits of investing in IT. However, many managers are now appreciating the wider strategic implications of developing a robust and responsive IT infrastructure; yet this in turn presents businesses with the dilemma of how to assess, quantify and accommodate the implications of infrastructural investments (DeLone & McLean, 2003). Efficiency, in this study, is different from the traditional IS success measure in that it is comprehensive internal achievement of a firm’s CRM process. We measured internal efficiency as one of the intrinsic measures of CRM implementation success in terms of perceived improvements such as easiness of CRM, cost reduction, time saving and alleviation of CRM load. We use efficiency to indicate internal success of a CRM system, determined by the process fit, customer information quality and system support. Higher levels of internal efficiency are assumed to correspond to higher levels of CRM system.
H1b: System efficiency of CRM is positively associated with employee satisfaction.

3.4

Knowledge sharing from alliance

Knowledge sharing is the contribution by individuals to the collective knowledge of an organisation. Knowledge sharing involves the exchange of knowledge or assistance to others. It contains an element of reciprocity, and the sharing can be unidirectional and un-requested. Such interaction frequently requires patience and effort as the sender attempts to understand the receiver’s perspective, answer questions, provide feedback and convey knowledge. Davenport (1998) emphasises that information sharing is a ‘voluntary act of making information available to others . . . sharer could pass information on, but doesn’t have to’. Thus, the process of knowledge transfer will not happen unless the knowledge is identified, or the knowledge holder involuntarily discloses it. Knowledge Management (KM) is establishing an environment where knowledge is shared and openly accepted (Jarvenpaa & Staples, 2000, 2001). The chief impediment of such an environment is most often organisational climate (Hoegl et al., 2003) and company culture (De-Long et al., 2000). Organisational climate is seen as a descriptive construct, reflecting agreement among members regarding key elements of the organisation in terms of its systems, practices and leadership style. James (1982) argued that if people in an organisation share similar perceptions of a psychological climate dimension,

Total Quality Management 1413 it is legitimate to aggregate these perceptions into an indicator of organisational climate. Thus a travel agency’s climate is the property of individuals and refers to how employees in an organisation generally perceive the organisation. Knowledge sharing involves the exchange of knowledge or assistance to others. It considers domain-knowledge specificity, both of supplier and adopter, focusing on the unique context of the interaction. These contexts include new product planning, product conception and design and pricing (Subramani, 2004) and reflect a supplier’s understanding and knowledge of market positioning and customer expectation. This leads to H1c.
H1c: Knowledge sharing from an airline is positively associated with employee satisfaction.

3.5 Knowledge sharing within an organisation Another important perspective for achieving CRM profitability is knowledge sharing within an organisation. In a travel agency, members of the team provide kinds of services and products to customers. The employees of the travel agency provide knowledge to their customer, like ticket information, destination knowledge, pricing of travel package and so on in order to help the customer make their decision. The relationships between knowledge sharing within partners in an organisation and employee satisfaction are dealt in H2. The underlying assumptions are that knowledge sharing within a travel agency will improve the firm’s efficiency and enhance employee satisfaction and retention. That is, the more knowledge the employees of the travel agency have, the better service they provide to customers. Moreover, employees sharing their own knowledge with their colleagues is important to serve their customers. It is hypothesised that knowledge sharing with colleagues is positively associated with employee satisfaction. Organisation climate will influence the knowledge sharing within an organisation. The goals of a customer-centric model are to increase revenue, promote customer loyalty, reduce the cost of sales and service and improve operations. In the travel agency industry, their organisation climate will lead to employees sharing their knowledge with their colleagues. Thus, H2 is tested based on two sub-hypotheses.
H2a: Organisation climate is positively associated with staff’s knowledge sharing. H2b: Colleagues’ knowledge sharing is positively associated with employee satisfaction.

3.6

Employee satisfaction

In the paper, we argue CRM profitability in a firm can analyse its market by using information systems, and segment its target and understand its customer’s behaviour, in order to increase product sales and revenue. Thus, CRM profitability understands the links among efficiency and employee satisfaction. Finally, the link between employee satisfaction of travel agency staff to CRM profitability in H3 will be tested. In a meta-analysis of strategy variables, several studies found a positive relationship between quality and economic returns. In addition to this relationship, some theories are suggested that employee satisfaction is related to customer loyalty, which in return is related to CRM profitability. Employee satisfaction is a customer-driven concept; that is, it allows customers to be in control of the system. Employee satisfaction is the collective outcome of the customers’ perception, evaluation and psychological reaction to the consumption experience with a product or service (Fornell, 1992). As employee satisfaction is commonly acknowledged as one of the most useful measurements of system success (Chen et al., 2004), we identify

1414 E.C.S. Ku and Y.W. Fan the underlying factors of employee satisfaction and develop an instrument to measure these factors. Marketing studies have focused on employee satisfaction with physical products and services delivered through certain channels (Khalifa & Liu, 2002). It is not clear whether the findings of these studies apply to CRM activities success. This study demonstrates that employee satisfaction with customer relationship depends heavily on the roles and success of organisational CRM activities.
H3: Employee satisfaction is positively associated with CRM profitability.

4. Research methodology 4.1 Data collection and sample characteristics The research goal is to further develop the CRM profitability model. Based on empirically evident instruments, we formulated the CRM profitability model and used a mailed questionnaire survey to investigate a travel agent management and employees in Taiwan. There are 2,677 travel agencies identified in the Tourism Bureau of Transportation and Communication. We mailed 1,000 questionnaires to wholesale travel agencies, and received 337 returned questionnaires, a return rate of 33.7%. For a sample description see Table 1. By structural equation modelling analysis, the research findings revealed the nature and complexities associated with knowledge sharing in the alliance of the travel industry. The research findings and implications include customer relationship management success not only considers technology or systems quality but also concerns knowledge sharing and operation procedure for management. Management level will provide the environment to enhance their staff to share their knowledge with others, and encourage the relationship between the industries. The alliance of the industry will increase CRM profitability.

4.2

Tests of the measuring scales

Since each latent construct was measured by multi-items, tests of construct validity were performed. Construct validity means that the underlying structure of the developed construct is found also in reality. Construct validity is established by relating a measuring instrument to a general theoretical framework in order to determine whether the instrument is tied to the concepts and theoretical assumption they are employing. This can be analysed first, by correlating with the detailed items and scale.
Table 1. Sample description. Work experience Less than 1 year Between 1 and 5 years Between 6 and 10 years More than 11 years Total Server Captain Supervisor 47 13.9% 20 5.9% 10 3.0% 77 22.8% Management Top management Total 47 13.9% 65 19.3% 86 25.6% 139 41.2% 337 100.0%

15 4.5%

23 6.8% 11 3.3% 34 10.1% 21 6.2% 21 6.2%

15 4.5%

7 2.1% 65 19.3% 118 35.0% 190 56.4%

Total Quality Management 1415 Convergent validity, the degree to which multiple attempts to measure the same concept are in agreement, was evaluated by examining the item – total correlation, based on the correlation of each item to the sum of the remaining items. This approach assumes that the total score is valid and thus the extent to which the item correlates with the total score is indicative of convergent validity for the item. Discriminant validity was checked by factor analysis. Because multi-item constructs measure each variable, factor analysis with varimax was employed to check unidimensionality among the items. We used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with LISREL 8.5 ¨ ¨ (Joreskog & Sorbom, 1993) to examine the convergent validity of each construct.

4.3

Scale development

We first conducted literature reviews on related topics to examine the external validity of our research model. We then developed the questionnaire items based on the literature. The measures used to operationalise the constructs in the research model were mainly adopted from some of the related studies conducted in the past, with minor wording changes tailored to the interviewees. This resulted in the identification of 19 potential research items. These scales are presented in Table 2 with their related literature. The different opinions are indicated by the numbers: 1 – strongly disagree; 2 – disagree to some extent; 3 – uncertain; 4 – agree to some extent; 5 – strongly agree.

Table 2. Scale development. Construct Systems effective Valiable Saved service working cost Saved service working hours Released service working loading Sharing business success knowledge Sharing service knowledge Sharing product knowledge Knowledge sharing from airlines System support Sharing operating knowledge Sharing customer knowledge Sharing market knowledge Understand guest reservation behaviour systems Understand guest request Reference Roh et al. (2005) Roh et al. (2005) Roh et al. (2005) Fraser & Novak (1998) Fraser & Novak (1998) Fraser & Novak (1998) Fraser & Novak (1998) Fraser & Novak (1998) Fraser & Novak (1998) DeLone & McLean (2003); Roh et al. (2005) DeLone & McLean (2003); Roh et al. (2005)

Knowledge sharing with colleagues

Knowledge sharing climate

Encourage sharing knowledge in time Glick (1988) Encourage sharing knowledge by Glick (1988) schedule Provide sharing knowledge place Glick (1988) Employee understood systems function Employee satisfaction about system investment Analysis of new market Increased product sales by systems Increased revenue by systems DeLone & McLean (2003) Piccoli et al. (2003) Roh et al. (2005) Roh et al. (2005) Roh et al. (2005)

Employee satisfaction

Customer relationship management

1416 E.C.S. Ku and Y.W. Fan 5. Data analysis 5.1 Reliability and validity Tests of the measuring scales internal consistency reliability are the accuracy or precision of a measuring instrument, which is the extent of uni-dimensionality, that is, the detailed items (questions) measure the same thing. The internal consistency reliability was assessed by calculating Cronbach’s alpha values. The internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha) of the construct was over 0.8622, which is above the acceptable threshold. Content validity of the survey instrument was established through the adoption of validated instruments by other researchers in the literature. Content validity means we measure what we are supposed to measure. In other words, if we aim at a good measure of CRM profitability we should be convinced that the measurement instrument includes the essential features of success. Since each latent construct was measured by the multi-items, tests of construct validity were performed. Construct validity means that the underlying structure of the developed construct is found also in reality. Construct validity is established by relating a measuring instrument to a general theoretical framework in order to determine whether the instrument is tied to the concepts and theoretical assumption they are employing. This can be analysed first, by correlating with the detailed items and scale. However, a more powerful method for analysing the construct validity is factor analysis. In order to obtain evidence of the construct validity of an instrument, a researcher must make use of both convergent validity and discriminant validity. In this study, we follow Straub’s (1989) processes of validating instruments to test construct validity in terms of convergent and discriminate validity. Discriminate validity was checked by factor analysis. Because multi-item constructs measure each variable, factor analysis with varimax was employed to check unidimensionality among the items. We used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) as shown in Table 4 with SPSS 10.0 to examine the convergent validity of each construct. The factor structure was not difficult to interpret, corresponding with information quality, service orientation, system effective, system support, standard operating procedure, employee satisfaction and customer relationship management. The model explained 84.49% of the variance. Table 3 reports the results of factor analysis.

5.2

Test of the structural model

Structural equation modelling was performed to test the hypothesised model presented in Figure 1. We used the LISREL 8.5 software for this analysis. The overall goodness-of-fit was assessed in terms of the following seven common model fit measures: chi-square (p-value), chi-square/degree of freedom, goodness-of-fit index (GFI), root mean square error (RMR), adjusted goodness-of-fit index (AFGI), comparative fit index (CFI) and parsimonious goodness-of- fit index (PGFI). All other indicators point to a good fit except the chi-square statistics. As the chi-square has an inherent problem with sample size (Barki & Hartwick, 2001), discrepancy/degree of freedom was used as an alternative indicator of the chi-square statistics. GFI is 0.76, RMR is 0.043, root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) is 0.068, PNFI is 0.64 and parsimony goodness of fit index (PGFI) is 0.56. Thus overall the data indicate a favourable fit for our hypothesised model (see Table 4). The significance and the relative strength of individual links specified by the research model were also evaluated. The results provide meaningful support for the research hypotheses (see Table 5).

Table 3. Confirmatory factor analysis. Construct Systems efficiency Variable Saved service working cost Saved service working hours Released service working loading Sharing business success knowledge Sharing service knowledge Sharing product knowledge Sharing operating knowledge Sharing customer knowledge Sharing market knowledge Understand guest reservation behaviour systems Understand guest request Encourage sharing knowledge in time Encourage sharing knowledge by schedule Provide sharing knowledge place Analysis of new market Increased product sales by systems Increased revenue by systems Employee understood systems function Employee satisfaction about system investment Eigenvalue Percentage of variance Cumulative percentage of variance 0.939 0.884 0.868 0.918 0.914 0.887 0.866 0.822 0.719 0.876 0.846 Knowledge sharing with colleagues Knowledge sharing from T/A System support Knowledge sharing climate Customer relationship management success

Employee satisfaction

Total Quality Management 1417

0.858 0.759 0.735 0.810 0.681 0.574 5.59 29.47 29.47 3.97 20.91 50.38 2.26 11.89 62.27 1.65 8.69 70.96 1.07 5.64 76.60 0.87 4.60 81.20 0.845 0.633 0.62 3.27 84.49

1418 E.C.S. Ku and Y.W. Fan
Table 4. Model measurement. Model Absolute fit measures 1. Normal theory weighted least squares chi-square 2. Goodness of fit index (GFI) 3. Standardised RMR 4. Root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA) Incremental fit measures 5. Chi-square for independence model with 171 degrees of freedom 6. Non-normed fit index (NNFI)¼ 7. Normed fit index (NFI)¼ 8. Comparative fit index (CFI)¼ 9. Incremental fit index (IFI)¼ 10. Relative fit index (RFI)¼ Parsimonious fit measures 11. Parsimony normed fit index (PNFI) 12. Parsimony goodness of fit index (PGFI) 13. Independence Akaike information criterion (AIC) 14. Model AIC 15. Saturated AIC 16. Critical N (CN) 17. Normed chi-square 178.36 0.76 0.043 0.068 Suggested index The chi-square has an inherent problem with sample size .0.9 ,0.05 ,0.05 is good fit; 0.05– 0.08 is fair fit

927 0.9 0.78 0.92 0.92 0.73 0.64 0.56 1023.8 433.08 967.93 53.98 1.05 .0.9 .0.9 .0.9 .0.9 .0.9 .0.5 .0.5 , Independence AIC; Saturated AIC 1,. . ..,2

Table 5. Hypothesis and testing. Hypothesis H1a H1b H1c H2a H2b H3
Note:
Ã

t System Support ! Employee Satisfaction Systems Effective ! Employee Satisfaction Knowledge Sharing from Airline ! Employee Satisfaction Organisational Knowledge Sharing Climate ! Knowledge Sharing with Colleagues Knowledge Sharing with Colleagues ! Employee Satisfaction Employee Satisfaction ! CRM 3.29Ã 3.35Ã 2.08Ã 3.72Ã 2.63Ã 3.25Ã

Testing Accepted Accepted Accepted Accepted Accepted Accepted

¼ p , 0.05.

6. Conclusions and implications This study provides a compelling theoretical framework for determining the conditions under which individuals as well as the organisational contextual and organisational alliance determinants are more likely to influence the beliefs of employees about organisational ownership of knowledge. Our use of a structural equation model to test a theoretical model of knowledge sharing could lead to a greater understanding of the nature and determinants of knowledge sharing across different stages related to CRM performance analysis. This study revealed multidimensional measures of factors that influence CRM performance that are both intuitively appealing and reliable. The analysis of the measurement model indicated that the proposed metrics have an acceptably high degree of validity and

Total Quality Management 1419 reliability. The results of the study provide reliable instruments for operationalising the key constructs in the analysis of CRM performance and have some important implications for implementing CRM systems in alliances. The commodity-like nature of the products offered by travel agents and the ease with which many travel products can be described have led to concern about the effects of information technology on the future of travel agencies. Trends affecting the travel industry include changing customer demands, increased customer expectations of value and convenience and increasingly knowledgeable consumers who are themselves users of information technology. Knowledge sharing contributed to successful CRM in the present study. Previous marketing literature supports the view that the organisational culture influences operational processes, and we found that a knowledge-sharing environment positively influences knowledge sharing between colleagues in an organisation, with employees needing their colleagues to provide service and product information to their customers. Overall, inter-organisational knowledge is important to firms, in particular, the knowledge of products and market from suppliers. In the study, we find that it is very important to travel agents to share knowledge about airlines because the airline market is complex. Knowledge about airlines’ products and market leads to the performance of customer relationship management of travel agents. Knowledge sharing in the travel agency and airline businesses can improve and encourage alliances. Knowledge sharing between organisations will lead to CRM strategy. Moreover, this study concludes that climates are an important and necessary factor to encourage employees’ motivation to share knowledge within an organisation. The increasing popularity of purchasing travel packages on the Internet and budget airline travel has led to customers becoming more demanding in terms of the level of expertise and knowledge they expect from their travel arranger. We found that the knowledge sharing within travel agencies is important to the CRM profitability. It is noteworthy that there was a significant interaction between knowledge sharing in travel agencies and process fit to the CRM performance of travel agents, and it is important that the staff of travel agencies have a sufficient knowledge of the products and market so that they can deal adequately with customer requests, with a greater knowledge sharing between employees of the travel agency increasing the CRM performance. Moreover, managers of travel agencies should encourage their employees to share their knowledge of customer services. On the other hand, knowledge of inter-organisation are important to firms’ competitive, specially, the knowledge of product and market from supplier, in the study, we find that it is very important to travel agent adjust their service process by integrated knowledge from airline company product and market, and it leads the success of customer relationship management. Knowledge sharing in travel agent and airline business can improve and encourage alliance’s market competitive. Knowledge sharing between organisations will lead CRM strategy, more over; this study concludes that climates are important and necessary factor to encourage employees’ motivation to share knowledge within an organisation. 6.1 Limitations

The first limitation of this study was that we did not compare the different operation scopes of travel agents – wholesalers and retailers have different optimal strategies, and their motivations for knowledge sharing differ. Second, we did not analyse the motivation factor of knowledge sharing in alliances between airlines and travel agents. Both of these limitations should be addressed by future studies.

1420 E.C.S. Ku and Y.W. Fan References
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