Purpose: Educational institutions heavily rely on alumni support and engagement. The purpose of this research is to better understand the link between alumni’s perception of career success and their engagement with their alma mater.Design/Methodology: I draw on research in commitment and on the attribution theory to construct a theoretical model to explain the relationship between perception of career success and alumni engagement. To empirically test the model, I collected survey data from more than 2,500 alumni from the American University of Beirut and Haigazian University, two private universities in Beirut, Lebanon. Data were analyzed using PROCESS models.Findings: Findings support mediating roles of affective commitment and, to a greater extent, normative commitment in the link between perceived career success and engagement with alma mater. Data analysis also supports a moderated mediating role for normative commitment, with attribution of career success to alma mater as the moderator. Findings support moderating roles of self-esteem and university prestige on the link between perceived career success and attribution of career success. Higher self-esteem leading to higher attribution of career success to oneself and higher university prestige resulting in higher attribution of career success to alma mater.
Implications: An understanding of the complexity of the role of commitment in alumni contexts is a first step toward identifying the antecedents of alumni commitment and the necessary actions to foster it. Moreover, drawing on the attribution theory enables researchers to better understand the variability in the impact of alumni career success on their intentions to contribute to their alma mater.Practical Implications: This research offers insights to practitioners on how to influence alumni inferences about their university role in their success and their commitment to their alma mater. I found support for the essential role of university prestige and, consequently, the need to foster and communicate such prestige. Similarly, the support for a focal role of normative commitment implies that a reciprocity and obligation promotional appeal to alumni might be more appropriate than a nostalgic appeal.
Originality/Value: Previous studies on alumni engagement are either atheoretical or tend to focus on alumni behavioral intentions rather than on mechanisms underlying these intentions. My research contributes to marketing theory through focusing on the commitment construct and its various dimensions to understand what truly drives alumni engagement. Through introducing the attribution theory to alumni research, I provide a better understanding of the variability in the impact of alumni career success on their engagement.
Key Words: alumni, commitment, attribution, self-esteem, university prestige.