Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration

Department

Business Administration

First Advisor

Carol Surprenant

Abstract

Although most marketing scholars agree that customer satisfaction is a critical determinant of post purchase attitude and product choice, research has remained largely confined to the US and few Western European countries. Given the increasing size of markets in developing countries, and that customer satisfaction is at the heart of all marketing activities, international marketers should have a deeper understanding of the determinants of satisfaction responses of the international customer.

A review of present satisfaction literature reveals the domination of the expectation-disconfirmation paradigm. Proponents of this paradigm suggest that satisfaction following a product experience depends on the magnitude and direction of the perceived disparity between actual attribute performance and prior expectations. While much empirical evidence supports this linkage, relatively little is known about the extent to which elements of the cultural environment influence the satisfaction formation process especially in non-Western cultures. Research findings show that consumer values and performance expectations are associated. Building on these findings, the next research question becomes: "To what extent do personal and cultural values influence the formation of satisfaction judgments? "

This study investigates the extent to which cultural values and personal values are associated, and whether these values systems relate to benefits sought in products, expectations of attribute performance, and the formation of overall satisfaction judgments. To investigate these relationships, a conceptual framework is advanced that explains satisfaction both from a cognitive perspective via disconfirmation, and from a cultural perspective through consumer values. This framework is then formalized and tested in two countries with different national cultures, namely Kuwait and the US.

Six hypotheses, derived from logical reasoning and from previous literature, were tested by data collected from a computer notebook study involving participants from each country. Results suggest the presence of a linear relationship between cultural values and consumer personal values, and between consumer values and benefits sought in notebook computer. The results also show a better fit of the valued-benefit performance congruency model (VB-P) in explaining satisfaction responses of the Kuwaitis when compared to the disconfirmed-expectancy model. Both models perform equally well in explaining the satisfaction responses of the US customers.

The conclusions of the study should be of a practical value to marketers seeking to sell their products in foreign markets and striving to maintain a high level of customer satisfaction relative to the competition. This goal can not be effectively obtained in the absence of a clear understanding of factors contributing to the generation of high satisfaction, and the particular process by which customer satisfaction evolves following a product consumption experience. Contrary to propositions of the disconfirmed-expectancy paradigm, it was shown that Kuwaiti consumers are more concerned with the kind of benefits the product is providing than what manufacturers are promising in terms of technical product attributes. The relative importance of these benefits was found to be different from one culture to another, depending on the type of dominant values held by the consumer. It is logical then to argue that value and benefit mapping should precede the introduction of products in every international market, and that competing solely on the basis of quality of technical attributes, which might be irrelevant to customer wants and preferences, could be the wrong approach in today's highly competitive markets.

Share

COinS