Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


Marketing and Analysis

First Advisor

Sean Dwyer


The objective of this dissertation was to (1) measure salesperson efficiency; (2) investigate both personal and organizational factors that determine salesperson efficiency; and (3) investigate both personal and organizational factors that determine salesperson effectiveness. Salesperson efficiency was assessed by data envelopment analysis (DEA). Two different DEA models were employed in order to increase the reliability of the efficiency results. Antecedents of salesperson efficiency and effectiveness were tested using Tobit regression analysis and ordinary least square regression analysis, respectively. These antecedents include not only personal level variables such as working smart, working hard, learning goal orientation, and performance goal orientation, but also organizational variables such as organizational culture, sales force control systems, and training.

The sample frame consisted of a national sample of insurance agents who subscribed to Life Insurance Selling magazine. A self-report questionnaire was mailed to a stratified random sample of 1,000 potential respondents. The life insurance professionals were sent the study questionnaire three times. The resulting response rate was 23.00% in the present study.

At the individual level of analysis, this study provides evidence that engaging in working smart behaviors enhances salesperson efficiency. While working hard was found to positively influence salesperson effectiveness, working smart was found to make salespeople more efficient and effective in selling. These results are a distinct contribution to the personal selling research literature.

The results also indicate that a learning goal orientation enhances salesperson efficiency and effectiveness. In addition, the relationship between performance goal orientation and effectiveness was found to be moderated by salesperson self-efficacy.

At the organizational level, this study found that the clan organizational culture type negatively influences salesperson effectiveness, while the market culture type positively influences efficiency. While past studies have found that organizational culture directly influenced organizational performance, the current study was the first to find a direct influence on individual performance. Additionally, behavior control systems were found to enhance salesperson efficiency and positively influence, although marginally, salesperson effectiveness.

Finally, the application of data envelopment analysis in sales research was extended. This study showed how DEA can be used to measure individual salesperson efficiency and subsequently identify those variables that influence this important measure of salesperson performance.