Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Greenwell, T. Christopher

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Hambrick, Marion

Committee Member

Moorman, Anita

Committee Member

Shuck, Bradley

Author's Keywords

minor league baseball; brand equity; social identity; social image


An understanding of brand equity, the value a brand adds to a product (Keller, 1993), can provide valuable information to sport managers. This is due to the fact price elasticity, competitive strength, and brand loyalty are consequences of brand equity (Keller, 2001). The degree to which fans identify with teams has been found to predict brand equity in major professional sport (Boyle & Magnusson, 2007) and major college sport (Watkins, 2014) contexts. One purpose of this study is to assess whether fan identification is predictive of brand equity in a MiLB context. Further, Lassar, Mittal, and Sharma (1995) found social image had a halo effect over performance, value, trustworthiness, and attachment as predictors of brand equity. An assessment of this relationship between social image and brand equity in a MiLB context, as well as comparisons with major college and major college sport for context, comprise another important purpose of this study. A total of 458 surveys were collected for this study. The results indicated fan identification is predictive of brand equity in a MiLB context. In addition, results indicated MiLB social image differed from both major professional social image and major college sport image. However, MiLB social image, major professional sport social image, and major college sport social image all shared strong relationships with brand equity. MiLB organizational affiliation (the team’s affiliation with a MiLB parent) and MiLB league affiliation (the team’s affiliation with its league) shared medium strength relationships with brand equity. These MiLB affiliations, however, had means that indicated participants found them more unimportant than important. Implications included the fact Minor League Baseball teams should emphasize their venue and their ties to the community based on the fact these variables were statistically significant predictors of fan identification. Because MiLB social image is weaker than that of major professional sport and major college sport teams, new and relocating MiLB team should consider avoiding competitive sport marketplaces. Neither the MiLB team’s affiliation to its league nor its MLB parent proved impactful, indicating marketing messages related to these ties will not prove valuable to the MiLB team.