A study of the influence of individual-level cultural value orientation on the formation of service quality expectations

Reid, Veronica (2011) A study of the influence of individual-level cultural value orientation on the formation of service quality expectations. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The service industry accounts for an ever-growing share of the global economy, and service aspects have become increasingly important for all goods. Since service expectations play a key role in the quality perceptions that consumers ultimately develop, it is important for service marketers to understand the nature of consumer expectations and the influences upon these expectations. Current research indicates that national culture affects service expectations, especially the information sources that consumers use and their opinion seeking propensity. However, cross-cultural expectation formation is a particularly under-researched area and researchers using national culture as an explanatory variable tend not to develop rigorous conceptual models clearly explicating how culture is meant to affect the consumer behaviour being examined. This research examines cross-cultural expectation formation and thus contributes to increasing academic understanding and improving marketers’ ability to manage the expectation formation process across cultures. Specifically, this research sought to empirically test the influence of individual-level cultural dimensions on the relative importance of the key antecedents of consumers’ expectations of service quality. A conceptual framework linking cultural factors to the formation of expectations was developed and empirically tested in a multicultural setting to explore similarities and differences between customers with significantly different cultural values.

An experimental design was used in which five sets of 1x2 manipulations were developed for the manipulated independent variables (past experience, advertising, price, firm image, and word-of-mouth). Existing scales from the literature were used to measure predicted service quality expectations (the dependent variables) and individual-level cultural values (the measured independent variables). Data were collected in English via the Web from university students of different nationalities across three countries (UK, Malaysia, and China) and the final sample size was 486 respondents. To test the hypotheses and propositions five separate 2x2 between-subjects MANCOVAs were performed on the dependent measure in aggregate as well as on the three decomposed elements of predicted service quality expectations identified in this research: Tangibles, Customer Care, and Empathy.

The findings indicate that service quality expectations are significantly influenced by the five antecedents of expectations investigated and that word-of-mouth communications and past personal experience explained a greater proportion of the variance in service quality expectations than explicit and implicit service promises. Adding to previous studies, findings show that advertising was significant only as an antecedent of Tangible expectations, word-of-mouth communications was particularly important in developing Empathy expectations, and price was most important for developing Customer Care expectations. The findings also supported the proposed conceptualisation, indicating that individual-level cultural factors moderate the relationship between the antecedents of expectations and predicted expectations. Long-term Orientation and Power Distance moderated the relationship between the antecedents and predicted expectations the most. Long-term Orientation and Masculinity have tended to be overlooked in the research stream but this research indicates that all five individual-level variables moderate the relationship between the antecedents of expectation and predicted expectations and also that these dimensions may explain consumer behaviour best when used in tandem. This information is also important for managers, who need to recognise that customers’ usage of various information sources in forming service quality expectations is partially culturally determined. Finally, the examination of cultural values at the individual level allows academics to develop a ‘cultural service personality’ at this level and allows practitioners, with the use of their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, to collect this information from consumers and use it to inform the type of information directed at consumers’ with different cultural service profiles.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Devlin, J.F.
Nath, P.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Service quality, culture, individual-level cultural value orientation, expectations
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
ID Code:2008
Deposited By:Dr Veronica Reid
Deposited On:26 Oct 2011 11:24
Last Modified:26 Oct 2011 11:24

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