“I” versus “We”: How Individualists and Collectivists Use Information Sources to Formulate Their Service Expectations
Purpose – To examine the impact of culture on customer service expectations, specifically, how individualists and collectivists use internal and external sources of information to formulate their service expectations.
Design/methodology/approach – The context was the airline industry and the subject pool consisted of experienced consumers. A survey was employed to measure individualism/collectivism, various internal/external information sources, and the functional and technical dimensions of “should” and “will” service expectations. Hypothesized relationships were tested using a structural equations modeling approach.
Findings – Both individualists and collectivists relied more on external information sources in formulating their service expectations, gave variable weight to the functional and technical components, and used more realistic “will” expectations to judge service offerings. Internal (external) information sources were relatively more important in forming expectations for collectivists (individualists) than for individualists (collectivists), and “will” (“should”) expectations were more diagnostic for collectivists (individualists) than for individualists (collectivists).
Research limitations/implications – Generalizability of the findings is limited due to the specific industry under study (airlines), the sample (two geographically-proximate sub-cultures), and the scope of the cultural variables considered (individualism/collectivism).
Practical implications – Whether managers should leverage the functional and/or technical components of services depends in part on the cultural orientation of their customers. Managers should also recognize that customers’ usage of various information sources in forming service expectations is also, in part, culturally determined.
Originality/value – In this era of globalization, researchers and managers alike need to consider the subtle influences of culture on marketing theories and the formulation of service expectations respectively.
Michel Laroche, Maria Kalamas, and Mark Cleveland. "“I” versus “We”: How Individualists and Collectivists Use Information Sources to Formulate Their Service Expectations" International Marketing Review 22.3 (2005): 279-308.