Modelling goes to museums : experiential consumption, The Theory of Planned Behaviour and old and new museology

Davies, Andrea Jane (1999). Modelling goes to museums : experiential consumption, The Theory of Planned Behaviour and old and new museology. PhD thesis The Open University.


This study adopts a two-stage structural equation modelling approach to demonstrate the nomological validity and utility of The Theory of Planned Behaviour to both predict and to explain the visiting intentions of middle-class residents to social history museums within the next 12 months.

Working within an 'experience-based management approach' the present study provides both a descriptive contribution, in terms of identifying and providing significant improvements in the measurement of museum anticipated experiences and resource facilitators and constraints, as well as a predictive contribution, in terms of assessing the ability of The Theory of Planned Behaviour, and in particular, the relative contribution of attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control modelled with complex summated- interactive antecedents, to explain museum visiting intentions. Particular attention is given to the neglected role of belief evaluation in previous museum and heritage studies in describing the structure and structural dynamics of anticipated museum experience opportunities. Furthermore, attention is given to the potential contribution of perceived behavioural control, and an understanding of an individual's resource constraints, to the experience-based management approach. A two-stage development of a summated interactive- complex model is shown to overcome methodological and conceptual deficiencies which have been noted in previous expectancy-value attitude studies. In addition, this study examines the impact of the anticipated interpretative environment (physical designed space) on the museum experiential opportunities, control and social influences perceived by individuals, and compares the interpretative orientation of The New Museology (idea-based museum) to traditional mixes of museum interpretative media (object-based museum) in this respect.

A qualitative-quantitative research design was employed. Thirty extended qualitative interviews formed the basis of the study by providing a 'real lived' understanding of common consumption experiences at heritage attractions, the resource problems associated with museum visits and the influences of social referents. Four hundred quantitative interviews with respondents from middle-class households formed the main focus of the study. Interviews were conducted using a systematic random sampling method applied in two spatially and demographically contrasting electoral wards of Edinburgh, Scotland. Across the spatial wards, respondents were randomly divided in two sub-groups (n=200). In each sub-group respondents were asked to evaluate a pictorial collage designed to capture the interpretative orientation of either the New Museology or traditional approach to museum interpretative mixes.

The study highlights the superiority of interpretative media mixes common to The New Museology in raising the instrumental and experiential-process value individuals anticipate from this style of museum attraction. In doing so, the study finds support for the continued application of The Manning-Haas Hierarchy of Demand, where the importance of 'setting' in managing the consumption experiences of consumers is explicitly recognised. However, due to the 'egalitarian' objective of The New Museology, and the expected 'levelling' or increasing homogeneity observed between visitors and non-visitors to idea-based (The New Museology) in terms of anticipated experiential benefits and costs perceived in this museum environment, the present study finds the predictive ability of attitudes in The Theory of Planned Behaviour is reduced. For the idea-based museum, these findings raise some questions regarding the ability of the Manning-Haas Hierarchy, which is based on expectancy-value theory, to operate as a predictive modd of motivation as it was intended. However, the present study does support the use of the Manning-Haas Hierarchy as a descriptive heuristic for product development alone. Subjective norms were not found to increase our understanding of museum visiting intentions, while the explanatory ability of perceived behavioural control was limited to idea-based museum attractions. Further, based on the significant contribution for past expereince to explain visiting intentions to the idea based museum, the present study calls for further research to identify potential 'deficiencies' in explanatory variables needed to more fully understand the motivations of individuals to visit idea-based museums associated with The New Museology. Finally, the present study demonstrates the importance of both sub-group analysis in the Theory of Planned Behaviour in order to identify the moderating impact of past experience and gender on the relative impact of attitude, subjective norms and perceived behaviour control on museum visiting intentions.

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