Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business

First Advisor

Dr. Margaret Linehan

Second Advisor

Rose Leahy

Third Advisor

Prof. Dr. Ralf Schellhase


The intense competition in the automotive industry and thus the pressure to correctly evaluate future consumer demands for successful product development provides the context for this thesis. Previous studies have drawn attention towards a potential change of automobile related personal values among younger consumers, yet failed to present a clear picture of this subject. Building on this background, this thesis investigates the automobile related personal value system of a younger and an older respondent group in order to determine the progression of values between both groups. For the first time, a qualitative approach was applied in this context in order to gain insights into the personal values connected to the automobile by each of these groups and to recognise how values have changed between both generations. The unique focus of the theoretical and empirical work conducted in Germany, resulted in a detailed understanding of the automobile related personal value system of both age groups. Most significantly, these findings led to the discovery of a permanent change in characteristic of the automobile related value of self-expression among many younger respondents, which is highlighted due to its high relevance for product development for future consumer groups.

This thesis advances academia by illustrating how a qualitative research strategy centred on the comparison of product related values between two age groups can uncover product related values and product related value change among consumers and by introducing a new model of inter-generational value consistency in this context. Focussing not only on current consumers but also on those who are likely to become the actual consumers once a product arrives at the market, an adjusted product development process model is suggested. Automobile manufacturers can directly benefit from the demonstrated research approach and the adapted product development process model, as well as from the detailed understanding of consumer values and consumer value change in relation to the automobile presented in this thesis.

Access Level


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Marketing Commons