Cross-Cultural Comparative Research Methodology

Cross-Cultural Comparative Research

1. Introduction

With the rise of globalization, a growing number of service providers are marketing services internationally (Malhotra et al., 2005; Zhang et al., 2008). This growth has certainly created many opportunities for business managers in terms of market development, but it has also presented many cross-cultural challenges (Zhang et al., 2008; Malhotra et al., 2005; Ueltschy et al., 2007). 

Because adherence to cultural norms is a significant determinant of the value orientations of the individuals in any group (McCarthy and Hattwick, 1992), culture can be expected to be a major determinant of the attitudes and behaviors of consumers (Cleveland and Laroche, 2007) – even if they are not always conscious of the ways in which their cultural backgrounds influence their lives. 

Culture has thus been shown to have an impact on such issues as the influence of advertising and sales promotions, the product choices of consumers, and the modes of entry into new markets (Ueltschy et al., 2007).

At a time when various issues of globalization abound, comparative cross-cultural marketing research has, therefore, become increasingly important as providers seek to identify similarities and differences among the cultural backgrounds of their customers and the impact of these similarities and differences on issues related to the delivery of service and customer perceptions of service quality. 

A growing body of research has, therefore, focused attention on the impact of culture on marketing. Moreover, because intangible services usually require greater personal interaction between customers and service providers, culture can be expected to have a greater impact on services than on goods (Smith and Reynolds, 2001). 

There has thus been an increase in comparative studies of cross-cultural service quality (CCSQ) reported in the literature (Kettinger et al., 1995; Winsted, 1997; Donthu and Yoo, 1998; Mattila, 1999a; Ueltschy et al., 2007, 2009). Such studies of CCSQ are complex and challenging.

2. Framework of the review 

Cross-cultural research is a challenging endeavor because the application of a given methodology in a different social context can encounter significant practical and cultural difficulties. Moreover, the subtle influence of culture on the research process itself can mean that non-controlled variables, often unknown to the researcher, might affect the quality of the research output at any stage in the process. It is, therefore, important for cross-cultural researchers to make informed methodological decisions that will enhance the quality of their findings.

3. Methodology 

In accordance with the criteria proposed by Adler (1983), research into CCSQ was defined for the purposes of this review as any quantitative study that had investigated service quality in two or more countries/cultures. 

Therefore, studies examining service quality in a single country/culture (ethnocentric and polycentric studies), studies dealing with cross-cultural service encounters within an organization (synergistic studies), and studies using an interpretative (non-quantitative) approach were excluded from this review.

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