Mrs Arij Alzahrawi

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Methodological issues in cross-cultural marketing research
A state-of-the-art review
Naresh K. Malhotra
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Cross-cultural marketing research 7

James Agarwal
University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

and Mark Peterson
University of Texas at Arlington, Texas, USA
To be cross-cultural, the marketing research project must be conducted across nations or culture groups, rather than across provinces or ethnic groups (Berry, 1980). For the purpose of this review, international marketing research (research dealing with international issues), foreign research (research conducted in a country other than the country of the research-commissioning organization), or multinational research (research conducted in all or all important countries where the company is represented), and other similar terms, will be subsumed under the rubric of cross-cultural research. We do not deny the fine distinctions that can be made among these concepts (e.g. Terpstra and Sarathy, 1990). However, it is not necessary to make these distinctions as the methodological issues we consider apply in varying degrees to all of these types of research. In recent years cross-cultural marketing research has assumed great importance in the academic and business worlds. Academically, cross-cultural research has gained wide acceptance both in international business journals and in specialized journals. A recent review identified 720 articles on the subject that were published in various academic journals between 1980 and 1990 (Aulakh and Kotabe, 1993). Businesswise, the USA accounts for only 39 per cent of the marketing research expenditures worldwide. About 40 per cent of all marketing research is conducted in Western Europe and 9 per cent in Japan. Most of the research in Europe is done in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Spain (Demby, 1990). With the globalization of markets, marketing research has assumed a truly international character and this trend is likely to continue (e.g. Malhotra et al., 1994). Despite its burgeoning growth in recent years, further expansion and development of cross-cultural marketing research is being hampered by The authors acknowledge helpful comments from Professor John Ford and two reviewers. International Marketing Review, Vol. 13 No. 5, 1996, pp. 7-43. © MCB University Press, 0265-1335

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International Marketing Review 13,5 8

methodological problems. “While theory development in international marketing showed considerable progress in the last ten years, advancement in the research methodologies has generally tended to lag behind” (Aulakh and Kotabe, 1993, p. 24). Similar observations have been made by earlier reviewers. For example, Boddewyn (1981) lamented that research designs developed in the USA were adopted in other cultures without appropriate modifications. Bilkey and Ness (1982) in their review of country-of-origin (COO) studies, identified several methodological problems which plagued this stream of research[1]. Despite the clarion call of Bilkey and Ness (1982), methodological problems in this area have continued, limiting our understanding and constraining theory development. Even after 30 years of research in which about 200 articles have appeared on COO, a recent meta analysis concluded that “the inconsistent patterns of effect size differences found for the perception and intention variables across the study characteristics investigated suggest that the COO phenomenon is still not well understood” (Peterson and Jolibert, 1995, p. 894). While articles dealing with cross-cultural research methodologies have appeared from time to time (e.g. Albaum and Peterson, 1984; Green and White, 1976; Mullen, 1995; Parameswaran and Yaprak, 1987; Sekaran, 1983; Sekaran and Martin, 1982; Singh, 1995) a unified treatment of such issues has been lacking in the marketing...
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