Date of Award

7-2021

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aviation Business Administration

Department

College of Business

Committee Chair

Dawna L. Rhoades, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Anke U. Arnaud, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Joanne L. DeTore, Ph.D.

Abstract

This research explored the factors affecting attitudes toward drone delivery and the moderating effect of COVID-19. Government effort to address the COVID-19 pandemic has led to social distancing and shelter-in-place guidelines. Many states have imposed additional regulations, restricting retailers from offering in-store shopping and restaurants from offering indoor dining. As a result, the use of delivery services has increased. In a further effort to reduce virus spread, some delivery services now offer a contact-free option. The contact-free option permits orders to be left at a designated location, eliminating the physical-human interaction upon delivery. The contact-free nature and potential speed of drone delivery make using the technology a viable option amidst today’s social distancing guidelines. The findings of this study support drone delivery as a feasible delivery option. The perceived attributes, COVID-19 variable, performance risk, and drone familiarity were found to be predictors of attitude toward drone delivery. All the predictors have a positive relationship with attitude except perceived risk. Attitude, the perceived attributes, the presence of COVID-19, and gender are the best predictors of intention to use drone delivery. Perceived risks are not significant predictors of intention to use drone delivery. Compared to a pre-COVID-19 study conducted in 2018, the perceived attributes account for 26% more and the perceived risks account for 81% less of the variance in predicting attitude. Similarly, compared to the pre-COVID-19 study, the perceived attributes account for 58% more and the perceived risks account for 74% less of the variance in predicting intention. This indicates that the perceived attributes of drone delivery weigh more and the perceived risks weigh less on attitude and intention than the earlier study. To draw these conclusions, a model based on the Technology Acceptance Model and Diffusion of Innovations theory was adopted and modified from a previous study. Then, a survey was administered on August 26th, 2020, to Americans aged 18 and older via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform. A round of interviews was also administered. Following collection of the data, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted. Model fit was confirmed through confirmatory factor analysis. Three hierarchical multiple regressions were carried out. The first identified the significant predictors of attitude as stated above. The second regression revealed that COVID-19 had a direct effect in lieu of a moderator effect on attitudes toward drone delivery. The third and final regression identified the significant predictors of intention as previously stated. Contributions of this study include identifying a direct effect of COVID-19 on attitudes towards drone delivery, discovering the best predictors of attitudes and intention to use drone delivery and a model with replicable results that may be used to measure attitude and intention in the future.

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