A critique of an academic research article on business management

A critique of an academic research article on business management

Order Description

Select a recent research journal article that presents the results of empirical research in an area that you are interested in. You must do this in week 1 to share with your seminar group and obtain approval that it is suitable from your seminar tutor.

You should title your review as follows:

A critical review of……author(s), date of publication, title of article, name of journal, volume and issue number.

The critique should address the following tasks and questions:

Why are you interested in reading this research article and how will it help you in your research?
Summarise in your own words what the article is about.
Is it clear what the research questions or issues are?
What are the main theories and literature quoted?
Comment on the way in which the evidence (data) was obtained.
Evaluate the main arguments used by the author(s)
Evaluate the evidence put forward to support these arguments.
What contribution does this research make to knowledge and management practice?

Journal of Marketing Management
Vol. 28, Nos. 9–10, August 2012, 1174–1189
Using response behaviour theory to solicit survey
participation in consumer research: An empirical
Felicitas Evangelista, University of Western Sydney, Australia
Patrick Poon, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, PRC
Gerald Albaum,University of New Mexico, USA
Abstract The purpose of this article is to report on research that examines survey
participation rates (i.e. response rates) for personal interview surveys where
solicitation for participation is based on different theories of survey-response
behaviour in two culturally distinct countries. Field experiments were designed
to investigate the extent to which the theories of exchange, cognitive
dissonance, self-perception, and involvement/commitment can influence
potential respondents to participate in a personal interview survey in Australia
and Hong Kong. The results show that there were significant differences in
Australia with the theory of self-perception having the strongest impact on
survey-response behaviour, while cognitive dissonance has the least impact.
In contrast, the effects in Hong Kong were not significant. This study adds
to the limited empirical research regarding why consumers participate in
surveys, particularly personal interview surveys. The theories are applied at the
self-introduction and invitation to participate, which is a crucial stage in the
potential respondent’s decision about participation.
Keywords theories of survey-response behaviour; personal interview surveys;
survey response rates; consumer research; field experiment
Extant research on survey participation in consumer research may be grouped into
two categories. The first consists of studies aimed at identifying ways by which
response rates could be increased, and the second is focused on finding an explanation
for why consumers participate or do not participate in surveys. Between these two
types of studies, the former tends to dominate the literature. It is of common
knowledge to researchers in this area that there are a great number of empirical
studies on response inducement techniques (see Martin, Duncan, & Powers, 1989)
and other methodological artefacts that affect response to surveys, particularly
ISSN 0267-257X print/ISSN 1472-1376 online
© 2012 Westburn Publishers Ltd.
Evangelista et al. Using response behaviour theory to solicit survey participation 1175
mail surveys (Gendall, Hoek, and Esselmont, 1995) but increasingly Internet (web)
surveys. The paucity of studies focusing on personal interview surveys (Lynn, 2001;
Shaw, Bednall, & Hall, 2002) or modified personal interview surveys (East & Uncles,
2008; Webster, 1997) and on theory testing and development has led to the focus
adopted in this article.
This article reports the results of a field experiment involving different appeals
used to solicit survey participation. The appeals represent the application of four
theories in explaining the decision to participate or not participate in a personal
interview survey. Conducted in two countries with diverse cultures (Hong Kong and
Australia), this study builds on the earlier work of Albaum, Evangelista, and Medina
(1998), Evangelista, Albaum, and Poon (1999), and Poon, Albaum, and Evangelista
(2003). A related study is that by Webster (1997) who examined the effect of type of
appeal on response quality in hand-delivered, self-administered surveys. The appeals
used – social utility, help-the-sponsor, and egoistic – can be viewed as being based on
a theory of response behaviour. In addition to testing different solicitation appeals
based on the theories of social exchange, cognitive dissonance, self-perception, and
involvement/commitment, this article also aims to determine their effectiveness in
different cultural settings. The next section of this article is devoted to a discussion
of relevant theories of survey response, which is followed by a description of the
study’s research design, results, and conclusion.
Theoretical framework
In developing a theory of survey participation, it is important to understand the
interaction between respondent and interviewer, and the behaviour, attitudes, and
expectations each brings to the interaction in a survey environment (Groves, Cialdini,
and Couper, 1992). The focus on the interaction at the self-introduction or invitation
stage is particularly critical. In a study conducted by Groves and Couper (1998)
involving face-to-face interviews, it was found that many survey design features
have their effect because they make favourable consequences of the interview more
salient to the respondent prior to his/her decision to participate or not participate.
Somewhat related is the recent study by Tourangeau and Ye (2009) in which an
experiment was conducted in a random-digit-dialing telephone survey. For one
half of the respondents, the request for participation emphasised the benefits of
participation, and for the others the emphasis was on the loss that would be involved
if they chose not to participate. Based on prospect theory (Kahneman & Tversky,
1979), it was predicted that the loss framing would be more effective than the
gain framing. Results confirmed the prediction, although the difference was slightly
less than 10 percentage points in the response rate. A recent study by Powers and
Valentine (2009), using a mail survey, showed that, in a satisfaction survey, the degree
of interest a consumer has in the subject of the survey can influence respondent
responses and completion rates. Personal contact surveys have distinct advantages.
Compared to telephone or mail surveys, personal contact is much more flexible,
allows for the collection of a greater variety of data, and is better when questionnaires
are lengthy (Webster, 1997, p. 105). One further advantage is that response can
be obtained from identified specific individuals, thus reducing, or even eliminating,
problems due to respondent integrity behaviour (this behaviour is discussed in
Braunsberger, Gates, & Ortinau, 2005).
1176 Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 28
The specific consequences that should be emphasised could depend on the major
reason why a potential respondent would participate in a survey. In searching
for these reasons, four major theories have been suggested in the literature as
being applicable. The three most cited that are relevant to marketing research are
exchange (Dillman, 2000), cognitive dissonance (Furse & Stewart, 1984; Hackler
& Bourgette, 1973), and self-perception (Allen, Schewe, & Wijk, 1980; Tybout &
Yalch, 1980). In addition, Albaum (1987) has suggested that a theory of involvement
or commitment might also fill the gap in theory development and use by marketing
researchers. Each of these theories is described below.
Social exchange theory asserts that the actions of individuals in answering a
questionnaire are motivated by an expected return or reward, which may not
necessarily be monetary in nature. The occurrence of a behaviour such as responding
to a survey would be a function of the perceived cost in engaging in that activity and
the expected rewards (Tullar, Pressley, & Gentry, 1979). Three conditions need to be
present in order for survey response to be maximised: (1) the costs for responding
must be minimised; (2) the rewards must be maximised; and (3) there must be a belief
by potential respondents that such rewards will, in fact, be provided.
The guidance provided by exchange theory is, however, only general (Dillman,
2000). Many of the techniques used to induce compliance can be viewed as being
designed to provide rewards, lower costs, and establish trust. For example, if
completing a questionnaire or responding to an interviewer’s questions can be made
to be a rewarding act, the process itself may provide the motivation to participate in
the survey. An implication for the researcher, therefore, is to make the questionnaire
as interesting as possible (Dillman, 2000). Another example is that of token financial
incentives. Their effectiveness is probably not so much due to their monetary value
as it is to their being a symbol of trust. Evidence supporting the positive impact of
incentives is provided by Lynn (2001) who reported for a personal interview survey
a significantly higher cooperation rate from sample members who were provided
incentives compared to those who were not.
Cognitive dissonance
Cognitive dissonance theory (Festinger, 1957) provides a mechanism for integrating,
within a single model, much of the empirical research that has been done on
inducement techniques for survey response (Furse & Stewart, 1984). As used for
explaining survey response, the theory postulates that reducing dissonance is an
important component of the ‘respond/not respond’ decision of potential survey
In a mail survey, and likewise an Internet-based survey, a questionnaire with
a cover letter asks for participation (Furse & Stewart, 1984). For telephone and
personal interview surveys, the process is started by a verbal request for participation.
Failure to respond to a survey will produce a state of dissonance, which the potential
respondent seeks to reduce by becoming a survey respondent.
The dissonance model has had limited tests. Hackler and Bourgette (1973)
attributed the high response rate they found for a dollar inducement to the ability
of the money sent to induce cognitive dissonance in potential respondents. Furse,
Evangelista et al. Using response behaviour theory to solicit survey participation 1177
Stewart, and Rados (1981) found that the initial monetary incentive served to create
dissonance, but that repeating the same incentive in a follow-up mailing did not
induce dissonance among those not responding initially. Apparently, there are people
who are dissonance resistant. These researchers felt that dissonance explained the
success they found regarding the foot-in-the door technique and that it would also
explain some of the negative findings experienced when that technique was used.
To some extent, cognitive dissonance is meant to be a motivational state following
behaviour when there may be insufficient justification for the behaviour (Brehm
& Cohen, 1962). Until behaviour such as not responding to a request for survey
participation occurs, the state of ‘respond/not respond’ is conflict that is relatively
rational. In the present study, however, we view the so-called conflict the same as
dissonance for the ‘respond/not respond’ situation, as a potential respondent can
worry about ‘Will I make the right decision?’ This allows us to be consistent with
how dissonance theory has been applied in methodological research in the field of
Self-perception theory asserts that people infer attitudes and knowledge of themselves
through interpretations made about the causes of their behaviour (Bem, 1972).
Interpretations are made on the basis of self-observation. To the extent that a
person’s behaviour is attributed to internal causes and is not perceived as due to
circumstantial pressures, a positive attitude towards the behaviour develops. Thus
liking something is really observing one’s own positive behaviour towards the
object. In the same way, a person infers that another person likes an object by
observing their behaviour. These attitudes (i.e. self-perception) then affect subsequent
behaviour. As mentioned by Helgeson, Voss, and Terpening (2002) in a study of
mail-survey response, self-perception denotes that individuals are more likely to
engage in behaviour when that behaviour is consistent with pre-existing attitudes.
Self-perception would predict that labelling one’s behaviour would cause that person
to view herself or himself as the kind of person who engages in such behaviour,
therefore the likelihood of later label-consistent behaviour is increased (Tybout &
Yalch, 1980). Self-perception theory has often been applied in survey research to
explain the effects, or lack of effects, associated with the foot-in-the-door technique
(DeJong, 1979). This technique attempts to elicit participating in a study by first
gaining compliance with a small request, such as answering a couple of questions
in a telephone pre-call. According to Allen et al. (1980), self-perception can be
operated as follows: ‘. . . responding with a small behaviour (answering the phone
interviewer’s questions) should alter one’s self-perception (I am a participator) and
influence subsequent behaviour (filling out and returning the mail questionnaire)’.
Somewhat related to the theories presented above is the theory of involvement or
commitment (Becker, 1960). Commitment leads to involvement. The concept of
commitment has been used by sociologists to explain consistent behaviour. It can
be defined as ‘a variable which encompasses the ranges of allegiance an individual
may be said to have for the social system of which he is a member’ (Hornback, 1971,
p. 65). Characteristics of this so-called consistent behaviour are that it (1) persists
over some period of time, (2) leads to pursuit of at least one common goal, and
1178 Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 28
(3) rejects other acts of behaviour (Becker, 1960). Consequently, the major elements
of commitment are viewed as including:
• The individual is in a position in which her/his decision regarding a particular
behaviour has consequences for other interests and activities not necessarily
related to it.
• The person is in that position by her/his own prior behaviour.
• The committed person must recognise the interest created by one’s prior action;
even though one has such an interest, she/he will not act to implement it unless
it is realised as being necessary.
A person who is highly committed to some activity is less likely to terminate the
activity than one who is uncommitted (Ford, 1973). This concept of commitment or
involvement is consistent with what consumer behaviourists have called enduring
involvement – contrasted to situational involvement (Havitz & Howard, 1995;
Houston & Rothschild, 1978). Enduring involvement reflects a sustained level
of concern with an issue, product, or activity and, as such, remains stable over
long periods of time. In contrast, situational involvement is situation specific. The
theory of commitment (or involvement) can be extended to explain survey-response
behaviour in that commitment can be attached to many different aspects of a
survey, such as the source or the sponsor, the researcher, the topic and issues being
studied, and/or the research process itself, and this can lead to involvement through
participation in a survey. The study by Brennan and Hoek (1992) seems to suggest
that enduring commitment would seem to exist. However, situational commitment
is not precluded. Potential respondents may have varying feelings of commitment to
the various aspects attached to a survey.
It is postulated that this theory may help to explain survey-response behaviour in
considering the ‘respond/not respond’ decision. The theory of commitment does not
suggest that there will always be consistent behaviour regarding response to surveys in
general, although this is not precluded. Rather, the theory suggests that there would
be consistent response behaviour for people facing the same type of survey under the
same situation and conditions.
The theory of commitment has been used very little to explain methodological
effects. For example, attempts to apply this theory have involved studies of (1) the
effects of inducement questions, that is, an initial question to arouse respondent
interest (Geurts, O’Neill, Lawrence, & Albaum, 1988), and (2) the effects of survey
source and coding in mail surveys (Albaum, 1987).
Propositions to be tested
The preceding discussion of theoretical frameworks of survey-response behaviour
forms the basis for developing different appeals to solicit survey participation.
As there is no definite theory that could help predict which appeal would generate the
greatest response, this study’s main proposition in its null form is as follows:
P1: There will be no difference in response rates due to the solicitation methods
developed along the theories of self-perception, social exchange, cognitive
dissonance, and involvement/commitment.
Evangelista et al. Using response behaviour theory to solicit survey participation 1179
The effects of culture
The effects of culture on survey response patterns have been investigated in previous
studies. These studies have found cultural differences in terms of social acquiescence,
extreme response, social desirability, and topic bias (Johnson & Van de Vijver, 2003;
Lyness, & Kropf, 2007; Skjak & Harkness, 2003). Acquiescence and response styles
have been found to be significantly affected by country-level characteristics such
as power distance, collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and extraversion (Harzing,
2006). However, to the best of our knowledge, there have been no studies about the
direct effects of culture on response rates per se. In view of this, we could only draw
limited insights from cross-cultural psychology and consumer behaviour studies.
One such study by Watkins et al. (1998) relates to the theory of self-perception.
In this study, self-esteem ratings among adults and children were found to be
higher among Western Europeans than Asians. Other studies involving physical and
global self-perception rating comparisons between British and Hong Kong samples
showed similar results (Hagger, Biddle, Chow, Stambulova, & Kavussanu, 2003).
The difference is attributed to the ideological background of the respondents’ or
participants’ cultural group along the individualism/collectivism continuum (Bond
& Smith, 1996).
The study was conducted in two quite different cultural settings. Since one’s
culture might affect how one responds to a request for survey participation, we can
expect differences in response to the differential requests. However, due to nonexistent
prior research on the issue, we cannot predict which country would yield the
greater response. We therefore state the following in null form:
P2: There will be no difference in the response rates between Australian and Hong Kong
respondents in terms of the different survey solicitation appeals.
The effects of solicitation appeal on data quality
In general, methodological comparison of different survey solicitation appeals will
be guided by modifying the paradigm for comparing survey methods suggested by
Roster, Rogers, Hozier, Baker, and Albaum (2007, p. 134). As shown in Figure 1,
which was first proposed by Albaum and Peterson (1985) to study response to mail
surveys, major measures of effect are data quality and quantity (i.e. response content),
response rate, and cost. As indicated in Figure 1, another effect that needs to be
addressed is data quality. Does the solicitation appeal have an effect on data quality?
Again, due to a lack of empirical research and theory, we present the following
proposition in null form:
P3: The solicitation appeals will have no effect on data quality.
Field experiments were conducted in Australia and Hong Kong. The cultures of the
two countries are quite distinct, as shown in Table 1. Using Hofstede’s (2001) schema,
the only dimension in which the two cultures are close is masculinity/femininity.
Both areas tend towards dominant male role patterns. Also shown in Table 1 are
1180 Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 28
Figure 1 A two-stage research paradigm for comparing survey sample and responses.
Subsample Comparisons
1. Individual Treatment Variables
(Main Effects)
2. Treatment Combinations
Raw Data
Responses and
Analysis of Dependent
Variable (Measure of Effect)
Data Quality
and Quantity
Cost Response
Evaluation and
Research Design and
Evangelista et al. Using response behaviour theory to solicit survey participation 1181
Table 1 Differences between Australian and Hong Kong respondents.
Measure Australia Hong Kong
Hofstede schemaa
Power distance 36 68
Uncertainty avoidance 51 29
Individualism/collectivism 90 25
Masculinity/femininity 61 57
Long-term/short-term orientation 31 96
Psychic distance 1b 36.43 8.31
Psychic distance 2c – 8.06
Psychic distance 3d – 20.5
aSource: Hofstede (2001, p. 500). bSource: Ellis (2008). The distances are how far away each is from
China. cSource: Brewer (2007). Australia is the base. dSource: Kogut and Singh (1988). Australia is
the base.
psychic distance measures for the two countries by Brewer (2007), Ellis (2008), and
Kogut and Singh (1988). Psychic distance is a measure of how close countries are
in terms of many things, including culture, history, and economic and industrial
development. Psychic distance is measured at the individual level by assessing the
individuals’ perceptions of differences (Sousa & Bradley, 2006, 2008).
The four theories described in the previous section were operationalised in
the form of introductory scripts that the interviewer used in inviting potential
respondents to participate in the survey. These scripts were stated after the
interviewer introduced the topic of the survey as below (words in parentheses refer
to the Hong Kong scripts):
Suppose amarket research interviewer approaches you in a shopping mall and says,
‘Good morning/afternoon. I am ______ from _______. I am conducting a survey on
people’s attitudes towards Australian-made (Chinese-made) and foreign-made
We are offering you a $3 scratch lottery ticket (McDonald’s set meal coupon) for
your participation. Would you please answer a few questions?
We would like to get the opinion of helpful people like yourself. Would you please
answer a few questions?
The topic of this survey is very important. Would you please answer a few questions?
Cognitive dissonance:
I hope that you would be able to answer a few questions, as non-participation would
cause us great difficulties. Would you please answer a few questions?’
Similar scripts were used by Poon et al. (2003) in their study of Hong Kong
consumers, and were found to represent the theories involved. Obviously, other
1182 Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 28
wordings could be used to represent each theory. In addition, the scripts could
have been expanded in length to represent the theory more fully. This, however,
was not deemed advisable, as the mall intercept mode of data collection was used
to obtain the data, and the request for participation should be as short as possible.
After the request for participation was made, respondents were asked whether they
would participate or not, why they would or would not participate, and certain
demographic characteristics (e.g. age, gender, etc.). In Australia, those who said they
would participate were then asked to complete the survey regarding Australian-made
and foreign-made products. The questionnaire for this survey included seven Likertscale
items from the Consumer Ethnocentrism Scale (CETSCALE; Shimp & Sharma,
1987). In addition to the CETSCALE items, questions were asked about preference
for specific types of Australian-made products and whether they had purchased any
in the past two years.
The interviews were conducted by mall intercept in major shopping centres in
Sydney, Australia, and Hong Kong. Bush and Hair (1985) compared mall intercept
with telephone interviewing and concluded that the mall intercept was a unique form
of face-to-face interviewing with much to offer the market researcher. The major
concern in a mall intercept survey is sampling the correct respondents. But, with
proper training and the use of qualifying questions, the interviewer can handle this
with some ease. In the present study, the only qualification was that a respondent be
an adult (university student age as a minimum).
University students, who completed a thorough training session, conducted the
personal interviews. The selection of respondents was left to each interviewer,
who used a judgemental sampling of those in the mall. There was no attempt
to fill quotas by gender or age. Thus there was a type of randomness in the
sampling. When the interviewer completed an interview, he or she would ask
the next adult-looking person (university student age or older) passing by to
participate. After agreeing, respondents were shown a dummy questionnaire. The
dummy questionnaire was similar in both countries, the only difference being
the reference to Australian-made and Chinese-made products in the respective
countries. In Australia, the interviews were conducted in English, and the dummy
questionnaire was in English. In Hong Kong, the interviews were conducted mainly
in Chinese, although the dummy questionnaire was bilingual (English and Chinese).
A proper translation and back translation process was performed for the bilingual
questionnaire used in Hong Kong to ensure the equivalence of questionnaires used
in the two countries. In fact, English is still widely spoken and understood in
Hong Kong.
The study was conducted as a field experiment. The scripts were applied in a
rotational fashion such that the ‘exchange script’ was used on the first respondent
followed by the ‘self-perception script’ on the next respondent and so on. The
script was changed each time a potential respondent listened to the complete script
whether he/she decided to participate or not. This process was repeated until the
desired total sample size (100 for each script in Australia and approximately 50 in
Hong Kong) was reached. Those who refused before the self-introduction/invitation
for participation was made or who did not listen to the entire script were excluded
from the sample. Finally, a total of 400 Australian respondents and 206 Hong Kong
respondents provided the data necessary for analysis.
Evangelista et al. Using response behaviour theory to solicit survey participation 1183
Results and findings
The profile of the respondents, that is, those who participated in the experiment,
is shown in Table 2. No significant relationship was found between the scripts
and the different demographic characteristics, that is, age, gender, and education,
indicating that the allocation of scripts to the potential respondents was random and
Given the nature of the experimental design used, the major measures of effect
analysed are response/participation rate and data quality (response content). Cost
was not assessed in this study, as there is only one mode of data collection.
Response (participation) rate
The results of the field experiments are summarised in Table 3. In Australia, the script
that yielded the highest response rate is self-perception, while the least effective is
cognitive dissonance. In Hong Kong, exchange theory is the most effective, and the
least effective is self-perception. The chi-square statistics show that in Australia, the
type of appeal used has a significant effect on the response rate, while in Hong Kong
Table 2 Profile of respondents participating in the experiment.
Characteristics Australia N = 400 Hong Kong N = 206
Gender Female 55% 62.1%
Male 45% 37.9%
Age <30 62.4% 62.1%
30–40 17.1% 19.4%
>40 20.5% 18.5%
Years of formal education
<10 11% 0%
10– 12 38% 46.7%
>12 51% 53.3%
Table 3 Results of survey participation.
Australiaa Hong Kongb
Theory Participate
participate N Participate
participate N Z p
35% 65% 100 38% 62% 53 .04 <.48
46% 54% 100 40% 60% 50 .69 <.26
Exchange 48% 52% 100 42% 58% 48 .68 <.26
Self-perception 61% 39% 100 36% 64% 55 3.06 <.01
a?2 = 13.66; p < .005; b?2 = .355; n.s.
1184 Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 28
this is not the case. The lack of significance in Hong Kong could be due to the limited
sample size or it could be due to the collectivist nature of the culture in Hong Kong.
Moreover, the amount of incentive for the testing of exchange theory might not be
sufficient to induce motivation to participate.
In contrast, Australian culture is individualistic in nature. Nonetheless, if these
results are taken to be indicative of why people participate in surveys, it is
evident from Table 3 that a difference does exist between the two countries. The
theory that yielded the biggest response-rate differential between the two countries
(25 percentage points) is self-perception, whereas the least difference (3 percentage
points) emerged for cognitive dissonance. With respect to the individual theories,
self-perception is the only one where there is a significant difference in participation
between Australia and Hong Kong, based on the difference-in-proportions test (twotailed
test). This contrasting result may be attributed to the cultural factors cited
earlier. Cultures that are more collectivist in nature, such as Chinese societies, tend
to downplay the role of the self in determining behaviour. They tend to emphasise
the role of self from a social rather than personal context (Hagger et al., 2003).
In the context of the current study, self-perception may have less influence on surveyresponse
behaviour in collectivist cultures like Hong Kong compared to a more
individualistic culture such as Australia.
Data quality (response content)
Since there was a significant difference in response rates for the tested theories in
Australia, it is difficult to assess whether one theory is better than another without
examining whether content of a survey is affected. Since it is very difficult to
determine which content would be most valid, if content varied, ideally, a researcher
would like to have content not be affected. That way, choice of a theory to design
a survey could be made on the basis of other criteria, such as cost, time, and
so on.
Overall, slightly more than 50% of those participating in the experiment (n =
210) indicated they would respond positively to the survey request. Slightly more
than 50% of these respondents were female, the modal age category was <30 years,
about 36% were married, and the median income category was A$20,000–$35,000.
These respondents completed the questionnaire about attitudes towards Australianmade
The seven scale items from CETSCALE were used to analyse effect on content or
data quality. These items are five-category Likert scale of agreement. Mean values for
these items for the four theories are shown in Table 4. Using analysis of variance,
significant differences at p < .05 (two-tailed test) emerged for only one scale,
‘Australians should always buy Australian-made products instead of imports’. The
overall summated score differences were not significant (p < .16). It is also noted
that, psychometrically, there was no difference, as coefficient alphas ranged from
.90 to .93.
Respondents in Australia were also asked to answer the question ‘How interesting
is the topic of the survey to you?’ A five-point numerical scale was the response
format, where 1 = ‘not interesting at all’ and 5 = ‘very interesting’. The mean values
for the individual theories were not statistically significantly different (F = 1.254,
p < .30, two-tailed test). The overall mean value for the entire sample is 3.34.
Evangelista et al. Using response behaviour theory to solicit survey participation 1185
Table 4 Mean values of CETSCALE items, by survey response theory#.
CETSCALE items SPa SEb CDc C/Id F p
1. Australians should
always buy
products instead of
3.02 2.98 2.74 3.48 2.93 .035*
2. Only those products
that are unavailable
in Australia should be
3.19 2.98 2.79 3.39 2.03 .111
3. Purchasing
products is
2.46 2.20 2.44 2.70 1.66 .176
4. It is not right to
purchase foreign
2.45 2.37 2.00 2.60 2.45 .065
5. There should be very
little trading or
purchasing of goods
from other countries
unless out of
2.79 2.85 2.42 2.93 1.29 .280
6. Foreign products
should be taxed
heavily to reduce
their entry into
2.71 2.76 2.55 2.98 .97 .410
7. We should buy from
foreign countries only
those products that
we cannot obtain
within our own
3.00 2.84 2.68 3.18 1.41 .241
Summated score 19.29 18.91 18.07 21.33 1.79 .150
Coefficient alpha .92 .91 .90 .93
# Items are scored 1 = ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 = ‘strongly agree’.
aSelf-perception: number of respondents varies from 54 to 60. bSocial exchange: number of
respondents varies from 44 to 49. cCognitive dissonance: number of respondents varies from
30 to 34. dCommitment/involvement: number of respondents varies from 42 to 44. *p < .05.
Discussion and conclusions
A basic premise of this study is that response behaviour theory can be used to design
consumer research studies such that response rates are higher without adversely
affecting data quality. Moreover, a key dimension is the initial appeal or request for
participation that is made to a potential respondent. The effects of four theories –
1186 Journal of Marketing Management, Volume 28
exchange, cognitive dissonance, self-perception, and involvement/commitment –
were examined in a field experiment conducted in two distinct cultures, Australia
and Hong Kong. Three propositions, presented in null form were tested:
P1: No difference in response rates due to solicitation methods based on the
different theories.
P2: No difference in response rates based on solicitation methods between Australian
and Hong Kong respondents.
P3: Data quality is not affected by solicitation appeals.
Overall, the result of testing Proposition 1 is that it is rejected for Australia but
supported for Hong Kong. In Australia, response rates varied from 35% to 61%. Selfperception
generated a much larger rate than did the other three theories. In contrast,
in Hong Kong, response rates varied from 58% to 64%. For Proposition 2, it is
rejected only for self-perception theory, where the difference in participation rates
is greatest in Australia. Proposition 3 is supported for five of the seven CETSCALE
items and the overall summated score.
The findings of this field experiment suggest that survey-response behaviour has
a cultural dimension that researchers need to take into account. A standardised selfintroduction
and invitation to participate will not work equally well in all cultures.
Different appeals may have to be employed when conducting surveys in different
cultures. This proposition, however, needs further investigation, as the sample of the
current study is small, the samples are from only two cultural groups, and only one
topic was studied.
Further field experiments involving larger samples from diverse cultures with
varying topics are therefore highly recommended. In addition, the extent to which
the specific wording of each script in this study can generalise to other modes of data
collection, other topics, and other countries/cultures also needs to be examined in
further research.
In addition to the wording of the introductory scripts, the specific mode of data
collection – mall intercept – may be a limitation. The theories may work differently
in an exit interview, street-intercept, and an interview in the home, as well as in a
mail survey, telephone survey, or web survey. Another potential limitation is that
respondents were asked hypothetically about participation. When actually being
queried, they may react differently than when faced with a hypothetical situation.
In this study, the survey was conducted by personal interview. Finally, the study was
conducted in Hong Kong and Australia. Respondents in other countries and cultures
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About the authors
Felicitas Evangelista is associate professor at the School of Marketing, University
of Western Sydney. Her teaching and research activities have been in the areas
of research methods, marketing, and international business. She has published in
scholarly journals such as the Journal of Business Research, Journal of World Business,
Management Science, and International Marketing Review. She has served as external
assessor of research grants and has served as a reviewer for reputable journals.
T 61-2-9685-9687
E [email protected]
Patrick Poon is currently the head and an associate professor in the Department of
Marketing and International Business, Lingnan University, Hong Kong. He received
his Master of Engineering and Technology Management and PhD (Technology
Management and Marketing) from the University of Queensland. His research
interests include technology management, cross-cultural consumer studies, services
marketing, knowledge management, and social marketing. He has published in
various international referred journals.
T 852-2616-8235
E [email protected]
Gerald Albaum is research professor at the Robert O. Anderson Schools of
Management at the University of New Mexico. In addition, he holds an appointment
as Senior Research Fellow at the IC2 Institute, University of Texas at Austin, and is
Professor Emeritus of Marketing at the University of Oregon. He received his PhD
in 1962 from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and his MBA (1958) and BA
(1954) from the University of Washington. He is the author or co-author of eight
books, more than 90 articles in refereed journals, 40 papers in refereed conference
proceedings, and 20 papers in other publications. His writings deal with issues in
research methods, international marketing activities, cross-cultural/national research,
and retailing (especially direct selling).Many of his studies are cross-cultural/national
in nature.
Corresponding author: Gerald Albaum, Anderson School of Management, MSC05
3090, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA.
T 1-505-277-2437
E [email protected]
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