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The impact of cultural orientation on the perceived value of IT mediated customer service in an e-business… Schmidt, Donald 2007

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THE IMPACT OF CULTURAL ORIENTATION ON THE PERCEIVED V A L U E OFJT MEDIATED C U S T O M E R SERVICE IN AN E-BUSINESS CONTEXT by DONALD SCHMIDT A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE D E G R E E OF MASTER OF SCIENCE in THE FACULTY OF G R A D U A T E STUDIES (Business Administration) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA June 2007 © Donald Schmidt, 2007 Abstract Electronic commerce (e-commerce) has not only opened up new and lucrative markets globally, it has generated novel business models and a new birthplace for innovation in customer service. Historically customers have been won or lost at times based not on products themselves but rather on the perceived value of ancillary services that are provided before, during, and after the actual product purchase. Because, in the case of E-commerce, these services are provided without direct human intervention, e-commerce websites designers have a unique opportunity to contribute to the success of their organization by providing services (usually information related), that automate the functions for attending to potential customers' needs during the E-commerce purchase process, like providing product information or handling a credit card transaction. Cenfetelli, Benbasat, & Al-Natour (2005) have called these functions 'Information Technology Mediated Customer Services or ITMCS. Because the literature supports the position that providing services has a high social component even when conducted via IT, there is reason to expect culture to influence the users' appreciation of the value of these automated services. The current study found some evidence that Internet users distinguish differences in the cultural relevance of the various kinds of website service offerings in a predictable and measurable way. The Internet users reported preferences for functions or features in a pattern that related to their cultural orientation. The conclusion from this research is that further research might capture the kinds of findings that website designers could use to make 'either/or' decisions about which customer service functions to provide in their website to best appeal to the key cultural traits of their target market audiences. Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iii List of Tables v List of Figures z. vi 1 Introduction 1 1.1 Research Question 1.1.1 Justification 1.2 Research Relevance 1.2.1 The Growing Opportunities for Customer Services 1.2.2 Defining Customer Services in the IT Context 2 1.2.3 The History and Significance of Customer Services in the IT Context 3 1.2.4 The Basis for Concern about Cultural Factors in Web Design 4 1.2.5 The Role of Culture in Customer Services 4 2 Literature Review and Analysis 7 2.1 A Long History in Service Quality Research 7 2.2 Continuing Efforts in Service Quality Research 7 2.3 IT-based Customer Services Quality and Customer Satisfaction 8 2.3.1 Explaining the Logic 8 2.3.2 Understanding Quality and Satisfaction in IT 8 2.3.3 Summarizing the Findings 9 2.3.4 Drawing Conclusions 10 2.4 Measuring Culture-based Impacts on Customer Services Quality 10 2.4.1 Hofstede and Culture 11 2.4.2 Applying Hofstede 12 2.5 Culture and ITMCS Quality 14 2.5.1 The Logic of the Link 14 2.5.2 The Foundation Laid 15 2.5.3 The Next Brick 16 2.5.4 The final touch 17 3 Research Models 18 3.1 The Macro-level Model 18 3.2 The Micro-level Model 19 4 Research Design 20 4.1 Hypotheses 20 4.2 Treatment Conditions 20 4.3 Treatment Variables 20 4.4 Methodology 21 4.4.1 Pilot Studies 21 4.4.2 Preparation of the instrument 21 4.4.3 Participants 21 4.4.4 The Process 22 iii 5 Data Analysis 23 5.1 Initial Processing 23 5.2 Construct Validity....: 23 5.3 Relationships in the Data 25 5.3.1 Interesting and Relevant to the Design 25 5.3.2 Interesting and Relevant to the Hypotheses..: 26 5.4 Considerations .: 27 5.4.1 External Validity 27 5.4.2 Recommendations 29 5.4.3 Exploratory Analysis 29 Future Research : 29 5.5 Important Questions for further exploration 29 5.5.1 More demographic impacts 29 5.5.2 More functionality to explore 30 5.5.3 More ITMCS Function items 30 5.5.4 More cultural impacts , 30 5.5.5 More HCI Design Considerations ..30 5.5.6 Considerations beyond E-Commerce.... ......30 5.5.7. Web Services : 30 References : 32 Appendix 1 -.• 39 Appendix 2 40 Appendix 3 .' ,..,...41 Appendix 4 ; .• 42 Appendix 5 ". : 43 Appendix 6 44 Appendix 7 '. ; 46 Appendix 8 47 Appendix 9 : .....48 Appendix 10 .' 49 Appendix 11 ..: : 50 Appendix 12 „ 51 Appendix 13 52 Appendix 14 , ;•. 53 Appendix 15 54 iv List of Tables Table 1 ITMCS Functions (Eastern and Western) 26 Table 2 Summary of Significant Correlations 31 Table 3 CG5 PD - and CG 2 PD/C 32 Table 4 Overview of Service Quality Research in IT 40 Table 5 e-SERVQUAL Scale Summarized 41 Table 6 ITMCS Items 42 v List of Figures Figure 1 Active Internet Users 6 Figure 2 Internet Usage Statistics - The Big Picture 6 Figure 3 World Average for Hofstede's Dimensions 17 Figure 4 Average Hofstede Dimensions Asian Countries 17 Figure 5 Average Hofstede Dimensions Predominantly Christian Countries 17 Figure 6 Macro-level Model 24 Figure 7 Macro-level Model 25 Figure 8 Methodology 28 Figure 9 A Structure Matrix Analysis of Survey Items 43 Figure 10 Pearson's Correlations All Group Factors and Demographics 51 Figure 11 Final Empirical Analysis 51 vi 1 Introduction 1.1 Research Question The current study seeks to empirically demonstrate that there are differences in the cultural relevance of the various kinds of website service offerings by comparing the cultural orientation of Internet users with their service function preferences as expressed through ratings and rankings of a variety of potential E-commerce website service functions. This would provide a theoretical basis for the selection of functionality during the design of an e-business website. 1.1.1 Justification The justification for this research grows out of the fact that companies and organizations are concerned about investing their IT resources in the most advantageous ways. This research argues that one valuable way to differentiate themselves is by improvements to delivery of the services built into their internet websites. The conclusion from this research would then be that if and when website designers must make 'either/or' decisions about which customer service functions to provide (or make most prominent) in their website design they would be wise to consider the key cultural traits of their target market audiences. 1.2 Research Relevance 1.2.1 The Growing Opportunities for Customer Services Historically businesses had to commit substantial resources to creating the physical presence necessary to conduct business. Then the Internet brought unique commercial opportunities to a larger number of businesses, reflected in significant growth in both volume and breadth of demographic characteristics of customers. The impacts have extended and are growing in the global market place where multinational companies, with substantial resources to overcome the geographical, economic, and political boundaries, used to dominate. Global communication, transportation, and distribution infrastructures have paved the way for new opportunities to abound for a greater variety of businesses, often with fewer resources, but an ability to leverage the emerging information technologies associated with the Internet (Straub et al, 2001). Even businesses with a physical presence have found that the Internet provided opportunities to enhance their offerings to the marketplace, often in the form of new customer services. For all of the potential this global opportunity brings, it also carries some challenges. People are still trying to learn how to do it right. The idea of providing service to customers is also not new in business. People buy 'value', and typically they include the value of the services provided to them during the purchase process in their overall assessment of value being purchased (Homburg, et al. 2002, Sirdeshmukh, et al. 2002). Hence, when deciding where to make a purchase, 1 customers will typically gravitate to purchase locations where the whole 'value proposition' is the greatest. The Internet initially offered novelty and convenience as the primary motivators for purchasing online. Sometimes the actual purchase process was still to be completed 'offline' by mailing in an order with payment. As technology became more sophisticated, it became possible to enhance the value of online shopping through automated customer services that aid the customer during the purchase process. The concept of 'mass-customization' (which can be defined as treating all visitors as individuals, tailoring the services or products they receive to their particular needs and desires) came into use and has recently been identified as an area lacking in MIS research (Wareham et al, 2005). A key part of this opportunity stems from the nature of web-interactions, which are mediated by technology (Cenfetelli et al, 2005). Many of the aspects of customer service which have traditionally been provided through the physical presence of humans can now be provided through technological solutions. The New York Times ran a story in 2002 titled "Web Retailers Try to Get Personal" in which they cover the issue of whether e-tailers should introduce live chatting to their sites, and if so, how (Tedeschi, 2002). The relevance of this current research, then, is found in its contribution towards helping provide these technology-based services to a global clientele. This direct utility is an open invitation to researchers wanting to study this novel form of commerce. 1.2.2 Defining Customer Services in the IT Context It is important to clarify my use of the term 'customer services', in light of the fact that the word 'services' can have many interpretations in the broader business context, not to mention in the IT arena. One important example of an alternative use of the term is 'Internet Services' as defined by IDC (2001): "Internet services are the consulting, implementation, and operation services associated with the development, deployment, and management of Web initiatives". The key to my usage of the term is my focus on the viewpoint of the customer or user of the website, not the designer, developer, owner, or operator. Equally important to note is that I am focusing on services as supporting the purchase process, not as the object of the process. The contribution of these services stems from the fact that customers have needs beyond the basic product that they are purchasing, and that a company can enhance the customer satisfaction and purchase intentions by programming functionality into their website which provides these ancillary services before, during, and after an actual product purchase is made. Cenfetelli et al (2005) have tested a very useful construct for this, IT-mediated customer service (ITMCS). The ITMCS construct refers to the variety of functions typically providing services (usually information related), that automate the website's actions in attending to potential customers' needs during the e-business purchase process. Examples would include providing product information or handling a credit card transaction. 2 1.2.3 The History and Significance of Customer Services in the IT Context The exploitation of IT based services to promote product sales and enhance profitability predates and is broader in scope than the recent Internet surge. A study in the early 1990s, documented how Brun Passot, a small family-owned company in France, used the telephone and EDI to provida customer services and tripled its gross revenues in three years (Jelassi et al, 1994). More recently, and in a more conventional setting, Target and Wal-Mart have begun providing customer-information kiosks or scanners in their stores to supply customers with self-service access to prices and product descriptions (Schwartz, 1997). In many ways, this latter example mirrors the kinds of ITMCS provided via the Internet. The globalization and maturation of manufacturing, the recognition of reduced barriers to entry made possible by the Internet, and other factors have converged to increase global competition for consumer dollars. Evidence shows that a company can establish competitive advantage by differentiating its online product offering through the supplemental value added by online services (Zeithaml et al, 2002). Hence it is common to have customer services being programmed into e-commerce interfaces, usually bundling them with the primary product offerings, although occasionally selling them as a supplemental value. Businesses like General Electric deliver online customer services that support sales and generate additional revenue, on a 24 hour, 7 day a week basis (i.e. www.ge.com). With a shift from product differentiation to that of the IT services which complement or supplement the product online, research argues that what customers value most changes (Johnson et al, 2003). This creates new opportunities for discovery and optimization for competitive advantage based in IT, especially because, as a distribution channel, the Internet has the potential ability to customize the services to the specific needs and interests of each customer either individually or by market segment characteristics. What is more, market segmentation based on social aspects of ITMCS might well result in an IT facilitated differentiation strategy in cases where the product does not have a differential demographic appeal of itself, and especially so when the nature of the product generates a high degree of interaction between customers and service personnel (Shaw et al, 2001). Research on Korean cybermalls drew the conclusion that differentiation is an effective, perhaps even essential, element for firms to be successful in e-business (Kim et al, 2001). This promise of differentiation underscores the empirical value of decomposing the user/website interaction process into components or functions, anticipating the possibility that certain steps in the purchase process which utilize more service features can be tuned to social factors such as culture, personality and, or, an individual's decision-making style (Al-Natour et al, 2006). These factors have fueled the interest of the business community in this genre of research (Bosch et al, 2002). In response, Human Computer Interface (HCI) 3 researchers are making these services a focus for exploratory and empirical study (Straub et al, 2002). No less relevant is the fact that a large proportion of the offerings on the World Wide Web are published in English, leading to the argument that English is potentially becoming the universal language of the Internet (Snyder, 2004). If this prophetic assertion holds true, then language barriers to e-commerce would crumble. Subsequently, web pages authored in English by developers from various cultures for a global audience of equally diverse cultures would be even more prevalent, and the potential for significant cultural dissonance or resonance in the user experience could be manifold. 1.2.4 The Basis for Concern about Cultural Factors in Web Design We can arguably expect web designers and developers to be capable of creating websites with the functions socially appropriate for their own milieu without requiring intentional inclusion of social factors in the design process. But this assumption merits further scrutiny when they are required to develop sites for that are targeted multi-culturally or cross-culturally. This design issue is not unique to website design. Recent trends in software development have pushed more and more designers and developers into cross-cultural design situations. The term 'offshore outsourcing' has become prevalent in the popular press as IT decision makers in more affluent countries have sought to move software development and other IT functions to highly educated but lower paid workforces in poorer countries. This trend is fueled by low cost, highly efficient global communications providing the ability to share online workspaces, send documentation and code easily via email and instant messenger, or even setup functions or parts of (or even the entire) applications in geographically distant locations. This can mean 24 hour a day development as, for example, a project gets handed off from India to Europe to North America to China and so on, as the globe performs its 24 hour circuit. It can also mean having portions of code written in each local which will eventually be welded together to form a single application. Whether these applications are designed for internal use or for interaction with suppliers and buyers, the cultural appropriateness of the interfaces and functionality is of interest because of constructs like Ease of Use (Davis, 1989) which give us a basis for arguing that a user's motivation to interact with a computer application can be encouraged or discouraged by their experiences with it. 1.2.5 The Role of Culture in Customer Services Normally demographics play a significant role in identifying key customer characteristics and in the world of internet commerce, this is no less true. Yet a great challenge remains. We need to identify the relevant characteristics and then address them operationally in a web design strategy (Albert et al, 2004). The UCLA World Internet Project (2003) predicted a number of significant changes in world wide behaviour patterns related to Internet usage. There were two significant 4 trends that merit noting in the context of this study: the patterns of growth of the potential E-commerce market, and the rate of growth of the actual sales to that market. The US's share of internet use revenues was at 66% in 2001 and 39% in 2003 (Simon, 2001). The data from Clickz.com (2004) in Figure 1 shows the estimated number of active internet users by country as of July of 2004. By 2007, the shift has occurred, as shown by Figure 2. This shows the dramatic shift in the proportion of Internet use away from North America, not because of a lack of growth here, but because of the astronomical growth in Asia. INTERNET USAGE STATISTICS - The Big Picture W o r l d Internet Users and Popu la t ion Stats Internet Users by World Region Country Users in July 2004 (in Millions) U . S ' A . 137 Japan 35 Germany 30 U.K. 22 Italy 16 France 14 Brazil 12 Australia 9 Spain 8 Sweden 4 Switzerland 3 Hong Kong 3 T O T A L S 2 9 2 Europe Nor th Amer ica Latin America A f r i c a [ ~ J 35 Australia/ Oceania Figure 1 Active Internet Users That translates to major growth opportunities in e-commerce in the global economy for businesses in various countries that can capture their share, particularly in Asia. 200 250 30( Mi l t ion i of Users om • Mar 19, 2007 350 4 0 0 4 5 0 Because the Internet usage increases are greatest in Figure 2 Asia, there is a general recognition that adjustments need to be made to make e-commerce websites acceptable to an international audience with significant linguistic and cultural distance from the Western moorings that have dominated Web development up until recently (Taylor, 1996). The efforts to internationalize the service/product bundling have been made by some multinationals primarily through language translation and selective editing of website content to appeal to targeted audiences (He, 2001). The rapidly increasing internet user base itself argues for a growing importance of customer services over time simply because it means that currently the majority of internet purchasers are more or less novices. Within a few years many of these new users will have become familiar with e-commerce, and research has successfully predicted that "a high level of pre-purchase [customer] familiarity is associated with more extreme post-purchase responses in customer satisfaction, repurchase intentions, and word-of-mouth intentions" (Soderlund et al, 2002). Stated simply, as these new internet users become experienced e-commerce customers they will become more discerning of website design and functionality. So the degree of impact of including the most appropriate services in a given ecommerce website should increase overtime. 5 The pregnant potential customer base is attracting considerable academic attention as is reflected in the growing body of literature on the ways to measure and thence assess the ability of e-commerce implementations to attract, satisfy, and thus, hypothetical^, retain these Internet based consumers of other languages and cultures. While it is difficult to measure the true levels of E-commerce activity (Fraumeni, 2001) the UCLA project reported that the number of consumers who made purchases online dropped from 2000 to 2002 (UCLA, 2003). This suggests that the rate of online purchasing may not be keeping pace with the rate of increase in use of the Internet overall. This apparent disparity between growth rates could probably be parsed out into many factors, but what interests businesses is to know what they can change to encourage online purchasing of their products by both current and future internet participants. Dahringer (2001) asserts that barriers to the international marketing of services are due largely to the close cultural relationships between a society and the services offered in that society. Other works also support the position that differences between cultures limit the ability of service multinationals to expand their activities internationally (Kogut et al, 1988; Li, 1994) Mattila, referring to the study by Pucik and Katz, explains this further by stating that "because culture provides the framework for social interactions, the social rules and customer expectations that are related to service encounters are likely to vary from culture to culture" (1999). The conclusion then is that to know the 'what' and 'how' of providing appealing services through an E-commerce website involves an understanding of culture, especially when customizing them to target the burgeoning global market for e-business offerings (Luna et al, 2002). All of this leads to my contention for the value of this research to businesses seeking to sell their products to the global village via the Internet. 6 2 L i t e r a t u r e R e v i e w a n d A n a l y s i s The following literature review will trace the theoretical basis for current research, into the relationship between culture and IT service function preferences, from its roots in the marketing literature through to the most recent and relevant MIS research that is targeting the specific constructs of interest to the current study. Findings with direct import to the research question, design, and methodology will be noted. 2.1 A Long History in Service Quality Research Studying aspects of customer service has become a time honored practice in the field of marketing, with one established and still used metric called SERVQUAL boasting more than a 20 year tradition (Parasuraman et al, 1985). SERVQUAL established the theoretical support for arguing that buyers can be significantly influenced in their purchasing decisions and motivations by service quality (Parasuraman et al, 1991). Not only has customer service and its impact on customer satisfaction been studied in depth over time, but in breadth, across a broad spectrum of products and places, from museums in London (Caldwell, 2002) to restaurants in Turkey (Yuksel et al, 2002), and from casinos in Las Vegas (Lucas, 2003) to discount stores in Korea (Kim et al, 2002) and elsewhere (Dabholkar et al, 1996). Even health spas in Slovenia have benefited from academic research into customer satisfaction with services (Snoj et al, 2002). Shaw et al, (2001) provide a brief look at some of theoretical direction of this type of research (see Appendix 1). 2.2 Continuing Efforts in Service Quality Research Efforts to strengthen and broaden the theoretical base for the customer services constructs continue to appear in the literature. One example of these endeavours is a recent attempt by Caldwell to employ the Repertory Grid to take a 'back to basics' approach in determining what criteria are used by museum patrons in assessing service quality in that context. A contribution this makes to my study is that Caldwell found that what patrons deem to be important is apparently quite variable, changing across demographics and over time (Caldwell, 2002). I would argue that a major source of this variance is the fact that services have a high social component intrinsic to their value to the consumers which will carry over to IT based services. A study conducted by Liljander et al, (2002) underscores this interpersonal nature of services. Their findings supported the existence of three behavioural service dimensions, namely, concern, congeniality, and incivility, and showed that a customer's mood valence influences these behaviours as well as encounter satisfaction. These behavioural dimensions are all subject to societal standards and thus are expected to be significantly correlated with demographic features. This connection contrasts with that of the actual products themselves, where there are times the social component is so minor that even segmentation by fundamental demographic characteristics is not possible (Goode, 2002). 7 2.3 IT-based Customer Services Quality and Customer Satisfaction 2.3.1 Explaining the Logic The study of customer service quality and customer satisfaction with services has been anything but straightforward, even without introducing the additional complexities of the world of Information Technology (See Appendix 2 for more on this issue). What is important to the study at hand is that logical connections have been established from user expectations to user satisfaction and perceptions of quality, and, in addition, that these relationships carry over to the IT world generally and IT-based Customer Services specifically. Based on this, / posit that what potential customers expect to be useful in an E-commerce environment is a good predictor of what will actually satisfy them when they engage in purchasing through such a website, and that the consequent satisfaction is a corollary to perceptions of website quality and an antecedent to purchase intention. 2.3.2 Understanding Quality and Satisfaction in IT To understand some of the more recent research into website quality and user satisfaction, it helps to be aware of some underlying constructs, theory and history. Pather et al, (2003) published a very helpful summary overview of key developments during the 1980s and 1990s in the search for user satisfaction measures. The table in Appendix 3 is from their study. They note how the empirical research experienced "a definite shift towards examining user satisfaction from a service quality perspective" (Pather et al, 2003). The research was not consumer based, but it established linkages between user satisfaction and perceptions of quality in an IT context. They also established some tools for capturing perceptions of satisfaction and quality. One key construct emerged in marketing research that found its way into this arena was called Servqual. When IT research finally turned its attention to the Internet, Servqual was an early leader. As the focus moved to E-commerce, Servqual was adapted to it as well. One attempt to apply the Servqual construct to the assessment of relationships between customer expectations and website quality is found in the e-SERVQUAL scale (Zeithaml et al, 2002). Appendix 4 is an attempt to summarize the dimensions and potential sub-dimensions of their scale. This study offered empirical results that linked website user/customer satisfaction with certain key measures of service quality. But the use of an IT-adapted SERVQUAL instrument was not without its critics (Carr, 2003) and so researchers pursued various other instruments, construct combinations, and statistical approaches in the pursuit of more confident theoretical ground for the study of IT-based services quality. 8 Straub et al, (2002) responded with a framework in which to incorporate future research involving what they call Network Enhanced (or Enabled) Organizations (NEOs). They apparently recognized that the future success of many companies would depend on successful integration of internet based means of serving their customers. They showcased the research that they perceived as directly tied to their approach. Two of the studies introduced several more important constructs to the Ecommerce research arena. Devaraj et al used structural equation modeling and three separate existing theories used in IS research to come to the conclusions that: a. Technology Acceptance Model's perceived ease of use and usefulness are important in forming consumer attitudes and satisfaction with the EC (i.e. e-commerce) channel. b. Ease of Use was found to be a significant determinant of satisfaction in Transaction Cost Analysis. c. The assurance dimension of SERVQUAL was determinant in EC channel satisfaction. d. General support was found for consumer satisfaction as a determinant of channel preference (Devaraj et al, 2002). McKinney et al (2002) coined the term, WebSQ to encapsulate the composite result of Information quality (IQ) and system quality (SQ), and derived nine key constructs for Web-customer satisfaction. Other studies have explored the composition of satisfaction with greater granularity helping pave the way for my use of the construct. Bhattacherjee et al (2004) demonstrated that IT users' beliefs and attitudes change due to experience with IT. As Khalifa & Liu (2003) observed: The dissimilarity of results between the different adoption stages supports my earlier argument about the evolution of satisfaction and the variability of its determinants. Customers rely on desires in addition to expectations to evaluate their satisfaction when they have little experience with a novel service. The role of desires, however, diminishes as the customers acquire usage experience. Direct experience enables the customers to form more realistic expectations and to be more confident in these expectations (Spreng and Page, 2001). In such a case, they tend to rely more on their expectations than on their desires in the evaluation of their satisfaction. 2.3.3 Summarizing the Findings Looking over this history, several things become clear that are relevant to this study: 1. Success in providing services to IT 'customers' tends to be defined in terms of satisfaction (referring to the experience or state of being of the user as a result of IT use) and its corollary quality (referring to the customer/user view or opinion of the IT interface/system - and the company behind it - as a result of their use of it). 9 2. Satisfaction tends to have causal links to future willingness to use the system/channel (which might be applied to the ecommerce context as an influencer of purchase intention). 3. Satisfaction and quality tend to derive from both a variety of attributes of the IT system/technology as well as from the characteristics of the user. 4. At least a portion of the IT impact is measureable by HCI constructs like ease of use. 5. A key characteristic of the user that influences satisfaction is the set of expectations they bring to bear on their assessment of the experience. 6. Expectations tend to derive from prior experience as well as desires. 2.3.4 Drawing Conclusions Because expectations has clearly been shown to connect to perceptions of quality, it is logical to argue that it is valuable to try to capture those expectations by asking participants in a study to communicate their preferences for certain website characteristics in advance of actual shopping. I conclude then that I can use preference as a predictive measure of satisfaction with customer services Further, the results will be useful in the sense that it supports the model of getting 'user input' into system design in order to encourage usage in the E-commerce arena. In the case of e-commerce, usage is a precursor to purchasing, and, especially in this case, 'user input' means researching customer preferences for service quality. But, as Bouch et al (2001) found in their IT service research, "Quality is in the eye of the Beholder". That leads us to a door into exploring the 'beholder' characteristics which will influence their perceptions of quality. That then leads us into the heart of the research question. 2.4 Measuring Culture-based Impacts on Customer Services Quality E-commerce consumer characteristics can include many things from relatively permanent attributes like gender or personality to temporary states of being like task orientation or mood. Many of these types of characteristics have been researched, but the current study focuses on culture, which arguably becomes most salient in the context of international E-commerce. 10 Figure 3 2.4.1 Hofstede and Culture There is a fairly extensive theoretical base for the linkages between customer satisfaction and culture built around the almost legendary work of Hofstede (1980), who proposed dimensions of culture that have endured both time and testing. The accompanying chart in Figure 3 displays the world averages on these dimensions. What follows is an explanation of these constructs as they are referred to in the charts with the exception of Long Term Orientation (LTO) which is not used in my study. Articulations of these dimensions abound in the literature. The quotations used are from Patterson et al (2001) except where otherwise stated. Individualism/collectivism (IDV) refers to "the degree to which members of a society or group act for the betterment of the group versus the individual". They are inversely related. To score high on individualism is equivalent to scoring low on collectivism and visa versa. Uncertainty avoidance (UA) refers to "the degree to which people are generally more resistant to change, less risk taking, feel threatened by ambiguous situations, and are considerate of others 'face' and avoid wherever possible outright conflict". Femininity/masculinity (MAS) refers to "the degree to which quality of life, maintenance of warm personal relationships, and personal service..." (ie. Feminine) "...prevail over values of assertiveness, performance, success, and competition." (ie. Masculine) Power Distance (PDI) refers to "the extent to which to less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally" (Ford et al, 2003). Greater distance scores indicate greater acceptance of the inequality. The aforementioned chart, as well as those in Figures 4 and 5, reflect the most recent measures for the Hofstede measures available from his website (Hofstede 2007). The following charts allow a comparison of the averages for Asian countries ("Eastern Orientation" for my purposes) and for what are 11 Figure 4 Average Hofstede Dimensions PreabmirantlyChristian Countries Figure 5 called 'Predominantly Christian Countries' which seems the best equivalent for my objective of "Western Orientation". Analysis of these charts reveals that some of the largest cultural gaps can be found between nations historically referred to as 'Eastern' and 'Western' in their cultural orientations. We have already seen that there is a massive shift in E-commerce potential from Western markets to those in the East. This combination argues for the relevance of pursuing cultural research along these cultural lines. Based on the results above, Eastern Orientation lot the purpose of this study can be defined as rating relatively high on the dimensions of uncertainty avoidance, masculine culture, and power distance but low on individualism. Western Orientation then is defined as rating relatively low on the dimensions of uncertainty avoidance, masculine culture, and power distance but high on individualism. 2.4.2 Applying Hofstede Quite a bit of research has been done to empirically delineate the ties that Hofstede's dimensions have to customer satisfaction. Shaw et al (2001) and Furrer et al (2000) provide solid summaries of research into cultural impacts on assessment of services quality. They also add valuable findings of their own. The important points I want to draw from their work which will inform my design and analysis are as follows: 1. In a number of service contexts (e.g. banking, hotels, restaurants, airlines), Hofstede's cultural dimensions have significantly interacted with SERVQUAL's quality dimensions, both positively and negatively. Hence I anticipate that these interactions will carry over to the services context of E-commerce. However, Lovelock and Yip (1996) have shown that not every service is equally affected by customer culture. They distinguish between services that are: people-processing, possession-processing and information-based. They argue that only people-processing services need to be adapted to local cultures. This actually seems to argue in favor of expecting more variance, based on culture, in preference measures, for certain kinds of functionality. It also suggests that providing a potpourri of functional differences might be more successful at eliciting a cultural response than individual function statements. 2. The significance of the interaction effects varies depending on the service context. This warns us that the results in the E-commerce context may vary with, among other things, the type of product being marketed at the site. Furrer et al (2000) tested the association between cultural variations and the relative importance of service quality dimensions for banks and found that not every service is equally affected by cultural characteristics. It might be best to simply avoid a focus on a particular product. 3. A significant contributor to the relationship between culture and customer satisfaction is "expectations" (Donthu et al, 1998 as cited in Simon et al, 2001) . Hence, the choice of preferences as a measure of culture's influence on perceptions of quality is supported. Stated more simply, if culture influences expectations, then culture should modify stated preferences. And thus, if 12 participants can be counted on to express their preferences through a survey instrument, then those results are relevant predictors of customer satisfaction and perceptions of quality. 4. The strength of the correlation between willingness to express satisfaction or dissatisfaction, and actual buying behaviour may vary from one culture to another. For example, Shaw et al (2001) found customers from cultures with lower individualism or higher uncertainty avoidance tend to have a higher intention to praise if they received superior service. On the other hand, the same groups tend not to switch, give negative word of mouth, or complain even if they received poor service quality. Customers from cultures with higher individualism or lower uncertainty avoidance tend to switch, engage in negative word of mouth, or complain if they received poor service quality. But they do not tend to praise when they received superior service. This might prove invaluable in the interpretation of the study's results if this carries through to willingness to express preferences. It also suggests a research design measuring preference of one site over another rather than direct independent rating of sites. In this way, those of a cultural orientation that is reticent to criticize should feel, for the most part, that they are able to state their preferences in the positive. 5. There are many indications that while culture is defined in terms of a group of people, there are many indications that, for the purpose of this study, it needs to be measured at the individual level to account for individual differences. For example, it is well known that both legal and illegal immigration of Mexicans into the U.S. has lead to large population clusters of Mexican-Americans. A study within the U.S.A. showed that Mexican-Americans expressed significantly higher levels of satisfaction and service quality perceived than Anglos in the same service situation (Ueltschy et al, 2001). And the U.S. is not unique in this phenomenon. Au (1999) argues from his research, involving forty-two cultures, that intra-cultural variation (ICV) is as large as the variation of cultural means across cultures. Engel and Blackwell (1982) showed how subculture can be introduced to explain buyer behaviour while Farley and Lehmann (1994) noted that differences in behaviour, which are culturally based, would exist even if the world were not organized into nation states. Finally, Heskett el al found that Psychographics (the way people think, feel, and behave) is a valid useful construct in understanding how service quality expectations are influenced by culture (Heskett et al, 1990). This construct varies by individual and hints that individual traits can modify the influence of culture. It also supports the use of preferences (which reflect how people think and feel) as a construct. Overall, these studies lend support for not focusing on nationality but directly on cultural orientation of the participants as individuals. Hofstede's categorizations based on national culture may well be limited in their potency; not only because of individual differences, but also because of recent trends of mass emigration, immigration, global telecommunications and media, inexpensive world travel and, of course, the Internet itself. But they still offer promise that if cultural profiles can be established, that they will significantly correlate with website preferences where culturally relevant features are involved. 13 But I deduce that individual testing of participants' cultural orientation is necessary to verify that they represent the cultural perspectives I expect them to represent. One can also conclude that it would be good to bring another cultural construct into play. This is the next step in my study. There was a recent empirical study that provided very strong support for the existence of a valuable cultural construct referred to as High versus Low Context (Chua et al, 2005). The contribution of the study was not only that it supported the assertions that Westerners give far less attention to context than their Far East counterparts, but that those differences show clearly in what they attend to visually on a screen. While this has immediate implications for screen design, it also has potential for more subtle issues such as preferences for functions that provide 'context' to a purchase. One very significant study in this regard was an exploratory analysis of existing Chinese versus American websites intended to create and/or support virtual communities (Tan et al, 2004). The cultural constructs included those of Hofstede, but they added the construct of High versus Low context. The study provided evidence that website features that provided context were much more popular in Chinese virtual communities as opposed to American ones. Since there is no established set of survey questions to establish the existence of this propensity, we will make the assumption, based on the aforementioned research, that the more 'Asian' participants are (based on the established measures), the greater will be their yen for context. Let us now come to the culmination of our discovery process. 2.5 Culture and ITMCS Quality 2.5.1 The Logic of the Link I have already established that the services delivered via IT media, like those used in conjunction with the Internet, are not 'socially neutral'. That is to say, social and psychological dynamics come into play in the same way that they do in traditional sales interactions between human beings (Reeves et al, 1996). In fact, some research suggests that the nature of the online transaction makes it particularly sensitive to relational elements that lean towards more informal psychological contracts rather than formal legal contracts (DeSanctis et al, 2000). Concurrently, there has been research to show that the cultural profiles of individuals powerfully impact the expectations they bring to their interactions with IT by way of the psychological contracts they formulate and apply (Thomas et al, 2003). In other words, I would summarize that because: 1. there is no question but that the online service encounter involves a social connection between the buyer and the seller, and, 2. it can be demonstrated that social rules and customer expectations are related to service encounters, and those vary from culture to culture (Pucik et al, 1986); 14 3. Therefore, I will argue that service encounters, mediated by Information Technology, are subject to cultural influences. 2.5.2 The Foundation Laid The logic presented above has already been embraced by a gaggle of.IS researchers who have begun to explore the role of culture in the IT-based service encounters. Let us first review the highlights of their work and then try to build on it. In summary form we note: > Furrer et al (2000) explicitly mapped the relationship between perceptions of service quality and a culture's position on Hofstede's dimensions. They demonstrated the importance of SERVQUAL dimensions to users is correlated with Hofstede's cultural dimensions. Correlation coefficients were used to compute a Cultural Service Quality Index that could be used to segment international service markets and allocate resources across segments. > Using WEBQUAL, Tsikriktsis (2002) found that Hofstede's 'masculinity' and 'long term orientation' dimensions are associated with higher Website quality expectations. > Ford et al (2003) conducted a citation analysis and concluded that, while Hofstede is well represented in the IS literature, the preponderance of applications of his work have little to do with IS development, operations, or usage. > Simon (2001) demonstrated the application of the Hofstede framework to the customer evaluation of website offerings. He used both culture and gender, arguing that web development has historically been dominated both culturally and in gender, by Western males. He argued that the developers will tend to develop a site that reflects their own orientation, both in terms of gender and culture. > Cyr and Trevor-Smith (2004) analyzed municipal sites in Germany, Japan, and the U.S. and found statistically significant differences in the use of design elements like symbols and graphics, color preferences, site features, language, and content. They confirmed that developers bring a cultural bias to website design. They also introduced me to culturability, a very valuable term from Barber and Badre (1998). They argue that designers, and therefore, by extension, users, of websites determine usability of website features based to a significant extent on their cultural orientation. It should follow that the users of the websites will then bring their cultural perspectives to bear when assessing website quality. In conclusion, Simon (2001) makes recommendations about web design that allow customization for different cultural contexts. But since he treated websites as a whole, without differentiation by different functions of the purchase process, I feel that there is room to add that dimension, if a tie from culture directly to specific functionality can be established. And while Cyr et al (2004) delivered a strong case for the relationship 15 between website features and cultural bias, the next step forward from their research (which focuses on design bias) is to empirically validate the user side of the equation. 2.5.3 The Next Brick So, then the key proposition for this study,is that it is beneficial to the effective analysis of web-based HCI when the diverse functions of a website are abstracted and considered individually, which brings us to the ITMCS construct (Cenfetelli et al, 2007). The ITMCS construct was born to answer the question of what services should be provided in the E-commerce context, not as the core value being purchased, but as supplemental to it. A recommendation agent is an example of a valuable supplemental service function that is regularly used with success in E-commerce applications. Cenfetelli et al have successfully demonstrated that providing these IT based supplementary services can affect customer satisfaction and perceptions of website quality. The empirical validity of the ITMCS construct allows the components or phases of ITMCS to be looked at individually or in combination. This has advantages over other approaches. For example, Servqual, or one of its derivations would have users evaluate a site based on how reliably the site seemed to perform during a session of interaction. The resulting reliability score would be some composite result of the reliability provided by the site across all of the interactions accumulated by the participant. But that could miss the fact that the product specification function was very reliable, but some other function failed. In addition, the absence of a function from the site would likely have an impact on the user's perception of quality, but not be part of a reliability assessment. A 'completeness' measure would be required, but even that would not capture exactly what triggered the loss of completeness. When culture is brought into the equation, the value of the enhanced detail is augmented. Perhaps someone will, for cultural reasons, place greater value on one aspect of functionality over another. In that case, a partial failure of the vital function to perform reliably could have greater impact on the overall perception of site reliability (and hence quality) than an almost complete failure of functionality that is of no consequence to that particular user. Hence, I wish to isolate the 'cultural value' of the functions with a view to showing how the sum of the parts leads to an overall experience of satisfaction. And in the present case, I can take advantage of that different granularity to try to bring out cultural variances that might otherwise be missed. The cultural value of a function may not be exceptionally easy to establish. There is the possibility that different people will perceive different benefits deriving from the same service function. Naylor et al (2002) found that some were drawn to spas for the benefit of meeting interesting people while others just enjoyed the spa itself. In the case of our study, it is possible that a person from a high uncertainty avoidance culture might see potential for reducing uncertainty on a website through the function description "an e-commerce website provides a way to compare delivery options" whereas a different person, with high need for context, might perceive it as primarily providing context to his 16 purchase. Hence, both participants would value the item more highly than other functions, but for different reasons. It is important then to verify the function's perceived purpose from various cultural perspectives so that the perceived value can be matched to the measured preference. It will also be helpful to work with groupings of functions to avoid individual variances. This appears to be a novel approach to this particular problem. A review of the literature as already presented shows that there has been research done on service quality and culture, but not with a functionality parameter. Then there has been work done linking service quality with functionality (working paper: Benbasat, Cenfetelli and Sameh), but not tied in with the cultural variables. In summary, while significant work has been done in the area of culture and web design since Malhotra et al (1996) pointed out the lack almost 10 years ago, there are still solid opportunities for scholarly research ahead, particularly in the impact of cultural preferences on the valuation of IT mediated services. Again, the value contributed by this study comes from the fact that it takes a fresh look at cultural influences on perceived quality in e-business website design through the lens of the ITMCS functions, providing a means of sifting through the influences with a finer focus and hopefully leading to more specific e-business website design recommendations. 2.5.4 The final touch By its very nature, the Internet appeals to certain cultural orientations more than others (Dinev, 2005). This is understandable since the origin of both service providers and consumers has been rather monolithic until recent years. This then brings us to a key question to incorporate into our design. Can anything be done in terms of new functionality that would make a site more appealing to the cultures that are going to provide the bulk of the new markets in the years to come? To answer that question, I will try to include some exploratory function statements to potentially augment the functions represented by the ITMCS constructs. 17 3 Research Models The following figures model the various constructs and the ways I postulate that they are interacting with each other. 3.1 The Macro-level Model This first diagram in Figure 6 reflects the overall context for the current study. The foundation is the model already established by Cenfetelli and Benbasat showing how ITMCS Functionality Items (see Appendix 5) ultimately impact purchase intention by way of producing a cumulative perception of Website functionality. To interject the cultural impacts on this model, I try here to show how the culturally based preferences for the various functional items can mitigate the impact of overall Website functionality on Purchase Intention when comparisons are made across cultures. In other words, I propose that the impact of Website functionality, in a cross-cultural context, is modified when passed through the filter of perceived value. Stated in a more actionable way, a website with less functionality overall might generate more in the way of Purchase Intention than a competing site if the individual service functions it provides possess greater combined relevance or perceived value and a major factor for users in determining this relevance or value is their cultural orientation. Macro-level Model ITMCS Functionality Index Item 1-30... Website functionality Perceived potential of ITMCS Functionality Index Item 1- 30 to provide culturally relevant value. Purchase Intention o Reflective PI Items 1 to 4 Figure 6 18 3.2 The Micro-level Model The current study narrows the focus to simply establishing the empirical validity of one statement. Participants will distinguish differences between the ITMCS items based on their ability to provide culturally relevant service (usually information) and those differences will be reflected in the ratings that websites will receive when participants are asked to rate website profiles differing only in the function descriptions attributed to them (listed in Appendix 6). We will assume that while the participants may vary on their perceptions of the benefits provided by a given function item, these perceptions will not significantly interfere with (and may enhance) the effects of culture on judgments of quality. The variance in those perceptions is most likely influenced by the participant's cultural orientation, but that is outside the scope of this MIS research project. See Figure 7. Perceived potential of ITMCS functionality items to provide culturally relevant value. Participant's Perception of Function's Value Participant's Cultural Orientation Preference for website based on overall functionality profile Figure 7 19 4 Research Design 4.1 Hypotheses H1a: Participants from an Eastern cultural orientation should show a preference for a website that is described as having a combination of functionality that is tailored to their particular needs (providing functionality that appeals to those who are high in the cultural constructs of Uncertainty Avoidance, Masculine, Power Distance, Collectivism, Context). H1b: Participants from a Western cultural orientation should show a preference for a website that is described as having a combination of functionality that is tailored to their particular needs (providing functionality that appeals to those who are low in the cultural constructs of Uncertainty Avoidance, Masculine, Power Distance, and Context but high in Individualism). 4.2 Treatment Conditions The only difference between treatment groups was the order of the website descriptions. This was to control for order effects. The questionnaire itself was identical for both groups. The difference between the two website descriptions was that certain key functionality items which ought to be more appealing to an Eastern or Western cultural orientation were either included or excluded. 4.3 Treatment Variables The Independent variables encapsulate the cultural orientation of the participants and the predicted (culturally relevant) benefits of ITMCS functions (see . The Dependent variables are the preference ratings for a website derived from the reading and rating of the website profiles by the participants. These are detailed as: Independent variables: Eastern Cultural Orientation versus Western Cultural Orientation High Context versus Low Context (Chua, 2005) High Uncertainty Avoidance versus Low Uncertainty Avoidance (Hofstede, 1980) High Power Distance versus Low Power Distance (Hofstede, 1980) Lower Masculine Orientation versus Higher Masculine Orientation Collectivistic versus Individualistic (Hofstede, 1980) Western versus Eastern website descriptions through the inclusion of: ITMCS functions providing for ITMCS functions providing for less context, more of an Qse^ more context, less uncertainty, individualistic focus, and less p p more of a collectivistic focus, and "Power Distance" | | more "Power Distance. Table 1 Dependent variable: Preferences for a particular website description as shown by responses to the website preference items described in Appendix 7. 20 4.4 Methodology AAA Pilot Studies A series of exploratory studies was conducted experimenting with a variety of research designs to see what would work best. A couple of them are worth highlighting. In one case a cross culturally representative panel of experts was asked to evaluate the function constructs with their individual item descriptions because of a concern regarding the cross-cultural interpretation of the items. They confirmed that most of the ITMCS items should be understandable even for those where English is not their mother tongue. Another panel (of Masters' students in MIS) was needed to judge the primary cultural value that could be channeled to the user by the presence of given functions on an E-commerce website. A number of issues were uncovered that needed to be addressed in the final design: • A few of the ITMCS function descriptions were difficult at times for participants to understand in isolation. It became important to offer them operationally where they could be understood in a context. • The tendency to give favourable scores to all items rated in isolation recommended a design where preference had to be expressed between at least two options. • It was difficult to get clear results when dealing with individual function statements item by item. Grouping them seemed to help. • Because the functions use some higher level diction, it also helped to recruit only those living in North America who were stronger in their understanding of English. 4.4.2 Preparation of the instrument An online service that provided a web-based survey tool and then processed the responses automatically was the primary delivery mechanism for the questionnaire. I created the questionnaire format based on one used in prior research by Cenfetelli. It required a login which became the anonymous identifier for each participant. There were instructions and required links included, followed by the series of questions which with only a few exceptions could be answered simply by clicking on an option. In rare cases, participants were asked to type a response. Two versions of the questionnaire were created to allow for the two treatment groups. 4.4.3 Participants The intention was to include a variety of internet users, from across the globe. The main requirements were that they be comfortable on the Internet and fluent in English. Simon pointed out that 93% of his subjects (across all cultures studied) were satisfied with the use of the "English" system of measurement, the use of US dollars, and English as a language (although there were many requests for translation engines). The most successful site in his study was only available in English (Godiva, selling chocolates). 21 These findings lent support to my decision to conduct the survey only in English (and possibly to the argument that Website designers might be better off investing first in culturally relevant functionality before concerning themselves with providing their site in alternative languages). Participants were recruited in person and via email and randomly assigned to one of two groups. Each group was directed to their own survey URL in order to complete it. The participants were recruited in part by using somewhat of a snowball method through current and former students, associates, and contacts at other academic institutions. The rest came from existing lists of research volunteers. They were randomly assigned to treatments. A total of 60 people participated in the main study, representing mainly the areas of East Asia and North America. 4.4.4 The Process When participants begin the questionnaire, they were asked to read two website descriptions. The web descriptions were primarily focused on the functionality provided at the site. No mention was made of specific aesthetic aspects or general system characteristics like response time or how much content is on a given page. The actual questionnaire had three parts (see Figure 8 below). In the first part, a series of questions probed for any preference for the latter website described over the first website (listed in Appendix 7). In the second portion, participants were asked basic demographic questions about potentially influential factors like age, gender, and amount of internet experience (listed in Appendix 8). Finally, they were asked a series of opinion questions (based on Hofstede) that measured their cultural orientation (listed in Appendix 9). After confirming their participation, they received a note of thanks, or $5 and a word of thanks, depending on the basis of their participation. M e t h o d o l o g y t JGOC' i i . 1 " Figure 8 C b n f i r m - ' T h a n k - Pay ; [°J^r*r-ojJTiri 22 5 Data Analysis 5.1 Initial Processing Once it was confirmed that all invitees had had adequate opportunity to participate, the survey data was downloaded in comma delimited files from the two survey sites. It was then coded for its origin (i.e. group 1 or group 2) before being combined into a single file and loaded into SPSS where further processing occurred, including data conversion and analysis. The rating system that I used, along with the attributed values used to convert choices into interval data, is listed in Appendix 10. Supplementary analysis, charts, and presentation was completed in Excel. Two important steps were required to bring the data to a consistent format. It was important to track Web Preference Item WF2 ("I have no desire to buy from Website B") as a reversed item. The fact that Group 2 had their Web Descriptions reversed in order had to be accounted for in SPSS. Construct validity was assessed using a structure matrix (found in Appendix 11). After the items were grouped, a conceptual tag was assigned (see Appendix 12). Then average scores were calculated for the construct groupings. These were run through a Pearson's Correlation analysis (see Appendix 13). Other methods of analysis (e.g. multiple regression) were also run on the data to assure that no behaviour of significance was missed. 5.2 Construct Validity The structure matrix (in Appendix 11) reveals significant convergence on what are supposed to be different theoretical constructs used to evaluate user preference for a website: intent to purchase, ease of use, reliability, usefulness, and so on. This convergence is not surprising because: first, the constructs derive from different studies and have significant potential for overlap; and second, in this research design the participants had only the descriptions of functionality to go on and would have made suppositions about a number of these constructs that they would normally determine through experience. Since my point is to see the influence of functionality on user perceptions of quality, this melding of items is not a problem. The groupings that came out of this convergence are worth discussing before looking at their use. 1. Actual Shopping Experience: The largest combination of items that fell together are really from a number of different models and are best seen in contrast to the other two groupings. In that light, these items seem to best refer to the actual shopping experience of finding, selecting, and transacting in a useful and pleasant context. 2. Conflict Resolution: The two items that fell together both seem to relate to what happens if something goes wrong and how to resolve that situation. 23 3. Tools/features/functions: These items are interesting in.that they all mention some synonym for specific functionality as opposed to general processes. Culture item scores reflected the original Hofstede constructs fairly faithfully. The items Cu-12 through Cu-16 made up the group of items testing for Masculine/Feminine culture. So the convergence there is very nice to see. Cu-7 through Cu-11 represented the group of items for Uncertainty Avoidance and hung well together. Collectivist/lndividualist split but still showed convergence as did Power Distance. For the purposes of further analysis, the items were grouped according to the strongest associations into the following conceptual constructs: 1. Collectivist This grouping is interestingly a break off of items which do not specifically refer to a work situation. Therefore, the result probably reflects a more general societal or at least social view of the individual sacrificing for the whole. We will return to this in the analysis. 2. Power Distance / Collectivist Positive: This is a collection of power distance and collectivist statements that are specific to managers and subordinates or employees and are stated in the affirmative. This then might also be referred to as 'Eastern values on the job'. 3. Uncertainty Avoidance: This is all about standard operating procedures, instructions, rules and regulations and how valuable they are in making sure that employees perform as they are expected to. Another way to define it would be as capturing a mindset that likes 'work life' to be regulated. 4. Feminine / Masculine: These items were all originally designed to behave as one in reflecting this cultural orientation characteristic that needs no further comment. 5. Power Distance Negative: The two items that lumped together here are both from the power distance camp, and the only clear difference between these items and those who joined group 2 above is that these statements are framed in the negative-what not to do, rather than what to do. In conclusion, there is enough 'life' in the data to justify the conclusion that the respondents did not simply respond randomly to the questionnaire but that their behaviour both reflects established theory as well as encourages some hope of theory building. 24 5.3 Relationships in the Data Table 2 summarizes the key relationships in the data which were brought out using the Pearson's Correlation analysis. There is no directional or causal significance reflected in the references to Factor 1 or Factor 2, only that they were the two items found to correlate at a significant level. The. table lists them in order of the magnitude of the mathematically generated relationship. Summary of Significant Correlations Factor 1 P's R Factor 2 WG1 Actual Shopping Experience .735(*-j WG3 Tools / Features/ Functions WG1 Actual Shopping Experience ^598(*"} WG2 Conflict Resolution WG2 Conflict Resolution %'553(*") WG3 Tools / Features/ Functions A G E -.535(*-) / • EDUCA A G E .533C,*).- ECOM CG5 P D - -,456("'), ; ' ECOM EDUCA "''....4;1-3(")-;,;. „ ECOM CG2 PD/C + -.401 (") INTERNET , 3 6 3 f > GENDER WG2 Conflict Resolution .327(') , . ECOM '.321(7 . C G r - PD A G E •319(") • COUNTRY CG2 PD/C + -.318(*) EDUCA CG5 PD - *" - 309(*) AGE \ . v : CG1 Collectivist .305(*)' • COUNTRY WG2 Conflict Resolution .289(*)' A G E • EDUCA .289(7 INTERNET WG3 Tools. FiMturi-!-- Function-.. .281(*). CG5 P D -CG2 PU'C + .268(*) C G 3 P D -EDUCA . -257(*) COUNTRY COUNTRY .255(7 ' ECOM C G 3 U A WH^T'' -.1 iis*"*; sCorrelation%ssignificant at the 0.01 level'(2-tailed). . -\Correlation is significant at the*0.05 level (2-tailed). • ;.' Table 2 5.3.1 Interesting and Relevant to the Design Web preference items It is important to understand that the highest correlations were found amongst the web preference items. An explanation for this has already been offered in the context of validity. It is probably difficult for users to differentiate different kinds of preference without actual cognitive, tactile, and emotional experience with a site. Uncertainty Avoidance The construct of Uncertainty Avoidance is conspicuous by its absence in the Pearson results. While it clearly shows up as a construct, it does not show up in interaction with any of the other constructs, including the cultural variables. It should be noted that in an 25 early pilot, where the importance of the various Hofstede characteristics in a website were explored, UA dominated the rankings. With all of the 'trust' literature underscoring the issue of risk reduction, there was a real potential danger for this one factor to overwhelm the effects of other factors. Including statements about how each site was secured may have muted this dominance and allowed other preferences to emerge. It is also possible that in the context of e-commerce, with all of its attendant risks and opportunities, that a cultural openness to uncertainty and risk is suppressed by the real dangers while a cultural resistance towards the same is likewise thwarted by the immense possibilities. Collectivism and Country To make sense of this relationship, we need to recall that the scoring of Country traverses numerically from 'Foreign' (-1), through 'Canada', (1) to 'USA' (2), and that a very small number were in the Foreign category. So, this positive correlation means that this particular trait was most true of participants residing in the United States. I mentioned earlier that the uniqueness of these 'collectivistic' traits was that they were more general, not using verbiage that placed them in the context of the workplace (in contrast to the other collectivistic items in PD / C+). One reasonable explanation might be the framing of these items in the USA as references to patriotism, which would tend to illicit a much different and unified response than those items framed in a job context. Another valid view springs from the fact that Country has an even larger correlation with age and educational level. The recruitment method in the USA was different from the method for Canadian residents and as a result, happened to recruit people who were generally older and more educated. These two traits arguably would bias a participant toward a position of 'putting others first' without betraying an overall cultural bent towards individualism. The relevance of either position is that it helps explain how these items became 'renegades' from the fold of the general cultural cluster of CG2 PD/C + which I am hailing as my best representative of an 'Eastern' cultural viewpoint. 5.3.2 Interesting and Relevant to the Hype The remaining correlations of statistical significance address the hypotheses of this study directly. They are included in Table 3. They are important to us because they tie the dependant measures of Web preference directly to the independent measures of Cultural orientation. The shading of the cells differentiates the items by type: the independent measure items are dark grey, the dependent items are in a lighter shade, and demographic measures which can help or confound the results are lightly shaded. eses ECOM -.456(**) C G 4 F/M *m& 321C) A G E -.309(*) WG3 Tools / Features' Functions .281 (*) CG2 PD/C + .2680 INTERNET -.401(**) EDUCA -.318(*) CG5 PD - --".2680 Table 3 26 The first relationship to note is not the strongest, but it is important. The fact that the three most likely constructs representing Eastern Orientation (CG 5, CG 4, and CG 2) have a significant positive correlation allows me to argue that while there is some variation in the trait groupings, there is a direction. This is especially important when considering my assumption from prior research of the existence of the 'context' trait, in combination with the other measures of Eastern Orientation. Now we focus in on CG5 (PD -), which is the one culture group measure with promise for support of our hypotheses. In isolation, high ratings of the CG5 items are reflecting an Asian style of management. The combined correlation results displayed here seem to say that these ratings create two portraits. The one connects lack of experience buying online, with increased bias towards 'masculine' culture and youth (or in the case of CG2 PD/C of less overall internet experience and education). This is a viable picture of typical Asian students who have recently immigrated or come out of immigrant homes. The opposing portrait is of those more experienced in buying online, with decreased bias towards 'masculine' culture and not being as young. There was no significant gender correlation which suggests at least some more general cultural implications, especially with the subsequent correlation to Power Distance / Collectivist bias. Ultimately this then is arguably our best indicator of Asian culture. If it is, then the web preference variable most responsive to variation in cultural orientation in this study is the one most directly related to functionality (WG3). To strengthen the case for significance, it proved fruitful to take the most 'generic' web preference items (WF1 and WF2) and combine them as the dependant variable and see what correlation they might have with CG5 (PD -). The results are included in Appendix 14. With a Beta of 2.49 (significant at .055) there is additional modest support for the hypothesis. I believe that with a larger sample size, the variance introduced by moderators like age, gender, ecommerce experience, and internet usage could have been removed and much stronger results would have been found. In light of this analysis, I would argue that the original hypotheses are modestly supported. 5.4 Considerations 5.4.1 External Validity There are a few issues to be set out clearly that frame what we can extrapolate from the results to the world beyond. In some cases they argue for caution, but in other cases they argue in support of my humble findings. Some of the more notable are as follows: 1. The number of casualties While statistical significance was achieved along one blood line of the research, there were a number of examples of where there was far too much random variation in the data that was not predicted by the hypotheses. For example, why did so 27 many culture items not converge as expected, why was there so much convergence among the web preference items and most importantly, why were there not more cases of high correlation? There are 'explanations' of course, some of which have already been appropriately raised. There are more, including the fact that limited resources meant a limited pool of participants both in number and in quality. Almost all of the participants reside in North America and are, therefore, somewhat acculturated. 2. The challenge of language As the proverbial Tower of Babel suggests, language is a perpetual challenge to accomplishing a desired end and e-commerce (and the research thereof) is no exception. Part of what may have limited my results was being restricted to Asians who were quite fluent in English. Did participants fully bring their cultural biases into the web assessments that they are asked to perform in English? Luna et al (2002) studied the effects of cultural congruity and language on the experience of flow by bilingual users. While their findings were mixed, they did find some interaction effects between the language a site was provided in, the extent to which the site matched the culture of the user, and the user's subsequent experience of flow. I cannot be sure that cultural effects, because of the emotional element, were not suppressed somewhat by Eastern participants being in 'English mode' while completing the survey. But, if I had translated the site, I might have had other problems. Shaoyi He (2001) argues that for translated sites to maintain quality, they must be culturally appropriate and that this will mean the removal and addition of content from the site. I interpret that to mean that by translating the web descriptions, I would potentially have manipulated the expectations of my Eastern participants. An analogy would be taking Asian guests to an American restaurant where everyone is speaking mandarin and comparing that to a Western guest taken to the same restaurant when everyone speaks English. 3. The challenge of cognition and emotion I intentionally only gave participants web descriptions in order to avoid distractions caused by performance of the site or by the many features that others have already established as being culturally influenced. But what cleaned up the study in one sense, made it tougher for participants in another sense. The web descriptions would have been processed cognitively before there was any possibility of emotional engagement—but it is the emotional side where people go for the final verdict on satisfaction and enjoyment. I think this may have been the reason for the fact that only the web preference item that performed clearly related directly to functionality. Stated another way, people had a hard time arguing for 'enjoyment' or any other preference which involved a significant emotional component. In short, the majority of cultural influence captured 28 was probably cognitive in nature. This leaves a lot of room for finding out what would have happened insignificant emotional engagement could have been mustered. 5.4.2 Recommendations The number of items that fell afoul of the data and the large amount of variance that was not predicted by the original hypotheses forewarns against arguing too vociferously for web design guidelines based on the research without further repetition and refinements. Nevertheless, arguing both from the literature and from these initial findings, further exploration ought to be done into the impact of cultural orientation on the potential for various service functions to satisfy the customer and provide a quality online purchasing experience. 5.4.3 Exploratory Analysis An exploratory analysis using the comments made by participants is included in Appendix 15. The comments are accompanied by their demographic profiles and an overall cultural average of all cultural items given along with an average website preference score. The latter items are rough estimates of the cultural orientation and satisfaction scores for these participants. The goal is primarily to revisit the issue raised earlier of seeing what kinds of responses the 'experimental' group functions (none ITMCS) would illicit. One found the "group participation" option "odd" and didn't "really understand it". She did not "think" she would use it online. Another preferred "do-it-yourself" type websites and would trust his own independent product research "more than 'groups'". A third female identified the main difference between the two websites as being the group functionality and that that functionality "didn't really seem all that appealing". If these comments were representative of the research group, then the experimental functions were not well received. Potential confounding factors abound that could explain the negative response. If nothing else, it confirms the value of using empirically established function items like the ITMCS items. Future Research 5.5 Important Questions for further exploration Not only should the existing hypotheses be pursued more fully, but several serendipitous results call for attention. It is appropriate to delineate them here. 5.5.1 More demographic impacts It is interesting that conflict resolution was factored out by itself and that it subsequently was found to be in positive correlation with increases in both the participants' e-commerce experience and their age. This merits further research because as both the age and amount of e-commerce experience of the 'average' internet customer is likely to increase in the next few decades. Venkatesh et al (2003) have shown that gender, age, and experience are modifiers of social influence (which is obviously related to culture) in its impact on behavioural intention (which is in the camp with some of my web preference 29 items). Allowing that educational level would contribute to experience, all of the following correlations are of interest: • correlations between age and experience with e-commerce, • correlations between educational level and internet usage, • correlations between educational level and experience with e-commerce. 5.5.2 More functionality to explore It is also interesting that in a research design that emphasized a focus on functionality, there was the formation of a web preference construct around functionality. This unexpected nugget merits further exploration. 5.5.3 More ITMCS Function items Perhaps the approach of Cyr et al (2004) could be used to as a first phase in trying to expand the ITMCS function index, so as to make it more 'global' in nature. That would open the door to using it in further cross-cultural research. 5.5.4 More cultural impacts As more and more people from poorer classes become participants in the cyber world (UCLA, 2003), how will they change the need for cultural adaptation of websites ... and how will upper classes from high power-distance cultures react if sites begin to cater to these lower classes? 5.5.5 More HCI Design Considerations With all of the complexities involved in cultural moorings, we tend to believe that those from within a cultural group can tell when something is distinctly 'them': whether it is Japanese, German, Swedish or Zulu. Could we argue then that where a website must adapt cross-culturally, that the only sure way to have a website culturally tuned is to have someone from that culture design the HCI? 5.5.6 Considerations beyond E-Commerce While in this study I focused on the development of E-Commerce websites, the implications may be relevant for other contexts as well. 5.5.7 Web Services A whole new facet of research may be opened up by considering what will happen when the various kinds of functions are delivered via web services. The term Web Service has been defined by Smith (2001) as follows: A W e b service is an encapsulated "chunk" o f behaviour and data that is self-contained and modular , se l f descr ib ing us ing X M L standards, programmat ica l ly and dynamica l ly accessible over networks u s ing standardized mechanisms such as S O A P , and capable o f b e i n g 30 dynamica l ly composed w i t h other W e b services. W e b services w i l l be available at many levels o f granulari ty and w i l l inc lude such services as electronic payment, dynamic p r i c ing , b i l l presentment and reconci l ia t ion , credit checking , freight forwarding, and inventory management. The relevance of this technology to the future of the Internet should not be underestimated. And the potential ramifications for a sociologically coherent HCI interface are considerable. While major players like Microsoft and Sun are working hard to develop standards to allow web services to be integrated from an internal development perspective (Taft, 2004), the question remains unanswered as to how the more subtle interface standards will be developed. Keeping in mind that the primary intention of web services is to allow different software applications to speak to each other, there is probably little concern at this point for how web services will impact on the Human Computer Interface. This would change the question from asking whether a function should be delivered to how a function is delivered and whether there are culturally variant ways to accomplish the task. There is little empirical research at this point into how these different delivery modes might impact the perceived social and cultural relevance of the website and, subsequently, user satisfaction. In conclusion, there is arguably a great deal of theory building ahead in this area, and the opportunities abound for solid empirical research that would be both interesting and relevant to the global business community. However, the challenges of delving into such complex human behaviour are many. I recommend this study as a step in the right direction. 31 References Albert, T., Goes, P. & Gupta, A. (2004). A Model for Design & Management of Web Sites. MIS Quarterly 28No. 2, 161-182/June. Al-Natour, S., Cenfetelli, R.T. & Benbasat, I. (2006). 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More recent studies have investigated the effect of customer satisfaction and perceived service quality on various kinds of behavioural intentions such as loyalty, positive word of mouth (Boulding et al, 1993), intentions toward repeat patronage, and intentions toward communication to others (Liu et al, 2000). Moreover, in their study of the links between service quality and behavioural intentions, Parasuraman and his associates (1994, 1996) identified five dimensions of behavioural intentions: loyalty to the company, propensity to switch, willingness to pay more, external response to problem, and internal response to problem. Studying the relative influence of service quality on the five behavioural intention dimensions, they found positive effects with loyalty to company and willingness to pay more, negative effects with propensity to switch and external response to problem, and insignificant effects with internal response to problem (Parasuraman et al, 1994; Zeithaml et al, 1996). Bloemer et al (1999), using the same items as Zeithaml et al (1996), found different dimensions for behavioural intentions: repurchase intentions, word-of-mouth communication, price sensitivity, and complaining behaviour. They also found that relationships between service quality and behavioural intentions had notable differences across industries. Appendix 2 The Challenges in Measuring Customer Services Quality One problem with studying any socially sensitive constructs is that human society is complex and so are its interactions. Customer Satisfaction with services consequently can be expected to reflect the cumulative result of a multitude of factors. Research supports this and raises several red flags for consideration. Firstly, establishing causal links between specific manipulations and customer satisfaction can be confounded by different demographic groups reacting to the same service stimuli in the same way but for different reasons. Naylor et al (2002) found that more than one group could express satisfaction with; a package of services (in this case a health and fitness resort), per se, but be deriving that satisfaction from different benefits. This underscores the importance of a sound theoretical approach to the study of this complex phenomenon. While bundles of. services can be expected to provide an intricate web of benefits, if we break open 'the package' and dealing with individual functions, the different benefits can hopefully be understood more easily and predictions based on the prevailing value easier to make. Members of the same demographic group could react differently to the same service simply because of different prior experience. This conclusion is evidenced by repeated measures study done by Maxham and Netemeyer (2002) which dealt with customer satisfaction and the dependant variables word-of-mouth recommendations and repurchase intentions. They found that both prior failures and successful recoveries can influence the impact of subsequent events on customer satisfaction. Lilander et al (2002) also demonstrated the importance of past service experiences for customers' responses, especially their repurchase intentions, which again suggests the cumulative effects of experience on satisfaction. In a study of the telecommunications industry, Khatibi et al (2002) found a disconnect between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. They found stronger ties between service quality and loyalty, and argue that loyalty is more relevant because it has more direct potential impact on revenues. Nevertheless, they did not totally discount the customer satisfaction construct, and there was significant correlation between service quality and customer satisfaction. This result is in contrast to much of the history recounted by Shaw et al (2001). While acknowledging the concern raised by Khatibi et al (2002), there is an alternative explanation for their mixed results. They sought linear relationships between the variables when the reality is that there are times that the relationships between service quality, customer satisfaction, and customer intentions are curvilinear and will not be captured by statistical analysis that presumes a linear relationship between the independent variable/s and the dependant variable/s. Fullerton and Taylor (2002) for example, found a non-linear relationship between satisfaction and switching intentions, advocacy intentions, and willingness to pay more for the service. Granted, the services involved (auto repairs and hairstylists) tend to provide the primary value and therefore may represent a somewhat different situation than is typical with IT based customer services, where an actual product is generally the central focus. Their point is that only once the level of customer satisfaction is at a level where 'customer delight' is triggered, can one expect to see significant movement in the desired customer behaviours like loyalty. In this scenario, satisfaction can run on a continuum whereas "quality" differences will only come at intervals. 40 Appendix 3 Overview of Service Quality Research in IT STUDIES OF INSTRUMENTS THAT MEASURE PERCEIVED SATISFACTION OF IS: Bailey and Pearson [1983] One of the first scales developed to measure user satisfaction. A thirty-nine item questionnaire instrument for measuring perceived user satisfaction with information systems. Ives et al [1983] Improved on Bailey and Pearson [1983] & produced an abbreviated survey instrument. Identified three issues that bear relevance on IS success viz. the quality of the product; the quality of systems personnel and services; and the knowledge and involvement of systems personnel in the business. Treacy [1985] Concluded that there were difficulties in several areas of the instrument produced by Ives et al [ 1983] Galletta & Leclerer [ 1989] Concluded that there were test-retest reliability problems with the Ives et al [1983] instrument. Baroucli & Orlikowski [1988] Confirmed the reliability and validity of the instrument produced by Ives et al Doll &Torkzadeh [1988] Criticize Ives et al. instrument for ignoring ease of use aspects of the man-machine interface. Consequently developed a 12-item instrument for an end-user computing environment as opposed to the traditional data processing environment. STUDIES OF INSTRUMENTS THAT MEASURE BOTH EXPECTATIONS AND PERCEPTIONS: Miller & Doyle [1987] One of the first studies that developed an instrument taking into account both user expectations and perceptions. Instrument was tested amongst financial organizations in South Africa. Kim [1990] One of the significant problems highlighted was that prior research focused only on post, implementation phenomena. It was argued that user expectations also play an important role in determining satisfaction levels. Present a strong case that consumer satisfaction research is an appropriate reference discipline for developing user satisfaction scales for IS. Proposed a Gap Model that examines user satisfaction through a multiple gap approach. Remenyi et al [1993] Use the gap model proposed by Kim [1990] and developed an instrument which was tested amongst users at a business school. Pitt & Watson [1995] One of the first studies that allude to the IS function as a service component. They argue that, commonly used measures of IS effectiveness focus on the products, rather than the services, of the IS function. They concludes that S E R V Q U A L (developed by Marketing researchers) is an appropriate instrument for researchers seeking a measure of IS service quality. Van Dycke etal [1997] Question the SERVQUAL gap measurement approach, an its validity in the IS arena. Pitt & Watson [1997] Produce an argument to repudiate the Van Dyke et al study. Evidence is produced to show that the service quality perceptions-expectations subtraction in S E R V Q U A L is far more rigorously grounded than Van Dyke et al suggest. Kettinger& Lee [1997] Offer support that the service quality measures as adapted for the IS environment should not be discarded until sufficient evidence has been produced conceptually and empirically. Watson etal [1998] Conducted a study into IS service quality in an information management consulting firm and an information service business. A model for building service quality into IS is described. Table 4 Appendix 4 e - S E R V Q U A L Scale Summarized Scale Item Definition Core Service Scale efficiency the ability of the customers to get to the Web site, find their desired product and information associated with it, and check out with minimal effort reliability is associated with the technical functioning of the site, particularly the extent to which it is available and functioning properly fulfillment Accuracy of service promises, having products in stock, and delivering the products in the promised time. privacy Assurance that shopping behaviour data are not shared and that credit card information is secure Recovery Service Scale responsiveness the ability of e-tailers to provide appropriate information to customers when a problem occurs, have mechanisms for handling returns, and provide online guarantees. compensation that involves, receiving money back and returning shipping and handling costs contact To be able to speak to a live customer service agent online or through the phone Other ease of navigation Having functions that help customers find what they need without difficulty and possessing a good search engine. site aesthetics Not defined security Not defined flexibility Not defined Table 5 A p p e n d i x 5 ITMCS I T E M S Item Name (item Description .Account for an E-Commerce website facilitates crediting my account for a returned or cancelled order. Account for an E-Commerce website makes clear what all the costs are for resources including taxes, fees, etc. Account for an E-Commerce website sends me confirmations of payments, returns and credits. iEvaluate ' an E-Commerce website provides me with the means to communicate feedback to the company (e.g. feedback form). iEvaluate an E-Commerce website provides me with assessment criteria to determine a product's condition. iEvaluate 1 an E-Commerce website provides me with contact information (e.g. email, telephone numbers) and locations in case 1 . [want to offer feedback. Evaluate- an E-Commerce website asks for my feedback on the company's level of service.. Maintenance an E-Commerce website helps me assess the condition of the product I've bought. [Monitor & Training 1 an E-Commerce website The website sends me a follow-up message to ensure 1 am satisfied with the delivered ! . jproduct. jObtain an E-Commerce website provides a way to compare delivery options. Obtain an E-Commerce website allows customers to check order status and track delivery status (by providing a. tracking number and a link to the selected carrier site in shipping confirmation email to the customers). iObtain an E-Commerce website allows for store, home or alternate address delivery. iOrder & Payment an E-Commerce website allows me to order the product through it. jOrder & Payment an E-Commerce website offers a fast checkout for repeat customers. Order & Payment an E-Commerce website allows me to change (e.g. items, delivery date) or cancel my placed orders. IOrder & Payment an E-Commerce website offers secure transactions. Order & Payment an E-Commerce website provides an explanation of the fee structure and various charges. Order & Payment Order & Payment an E-Commerce website allows me to take advantage of special discounts, rebates and introductory offers, an E-Commerce website allows me to purchase gift certificates (both electronic and paper). Replace an E-Commerce website allows me to cancel or change my products specifications after 1 place my order (e.g. cancel air travel reservations). Replace an E-Commerce website facilitates the exchange of one item for another one. Resell an E-Commerce website site allows for easy return if an item is unwanted or I'm dissatisfied with it. Resell an E-Commerce website provides information on the company's return policy. Sourcing an E-Commerce website provides information to assure the price of the product when other vendors are involved. Sourcing an E-Commerce website provides me with detailed information about shipping fee. Specify & Est. Requirements an E-Commerce website allows me to locate products by browsing through categories. Specify & Est. Requirements < an E-Commerce website informs me of a product's other available formats/styles. Specify & Est.! Requirements an E-Commerce website displays all of the product relevant information before 1 add the product to my shopping cart. Table 6 A p p e n d i x 6 Website Descriptions (with differences highlighted) Western Orientation Web Description As I begin to shop at the website, I notice that it allows me to locate products by browsing through categories and informs me of a product's other available formats/styles. When I view a product, the site initially displays only key product information (with the option of-seeing more detail including shipping fees before I add the product to my shopping cart). There is also a setup option to view text only on the site rather with full background features. The full background features include color, product pages, links to consumer advocacy groups and testimonials from well known customers. Finally, it- provides a function to assure the price of the product when other vendors are involved. If I choose to order the product through the website, it offers secure transactions (based on the latest encryption technology) and I can make changes (e.g. items, delivery date) or cancel placed orders via the site as well. There is an explanation of the fee structure and various charges and I can take advantage of special discounts, rebates and introductory offers. I note that the website allows me to purchase gift certificates (both electronic and paper). There is a fast checkout feature for customers purchasing a single item. I decide to make a purchase and note that the site provides a way to compare delivery options. The options include store, home or alternate address delivery. Having completed the order, I am informed in a shipping confirmation email as to how to check the order status and track delivery status (by providing a tracking number and a link to the selected carrier site). With further investigation, I realize that the website has features that allow me to cancel or change my products specifications after I place my order (e.g. cancel air travel reservations) and to exchange one item for another one. It also facilitates crediting my account for a returned or cancelled order and that it sends me confirmations of payments, returns and credits. Having received the product, I find that the company sends me a follow-up email message to ensure I am satisfied with the delivered product and the means to communicate feedback to the company (i.e. feedback form). It provides me with assessment criteria to help assess the condition of the product I've bought, and with contact information (e.g. email, telephone numbers) and locations in case I want to offer feedback both on the product and on the company's level of service. The website provides information on the company's return policy and allows for easy return if an item is unwanted or I'm dissatisfied with it. Eastern Orientation Web Description As I begin to shop at the website, I notice that it allows me to locate products by browsing through categories and informs me of a product's other available formats/styles. When I view a product, the site displays all of the product relevant information (including details about shipping fees) before I add the product to my shopping cart. There is a setup option to see additional background features like logos of affiliated vendors and testimonials from respected customers. 44 Further, the website provides two group participation functions. One.allows me to invite a select group to participate in the purchase process with me through flagging products of interest, leaving opinions and suggestions, and voting on possible purchase options. The second option allows for a group of participants that I can authorize to do the leg work of product research and selection (to the shopping cart) while leaving, final pi irchase decisions to myself or another •designated authority. If I choose to order the product through the website, it offers secure transactions (guaranteed by Verisign and Symantec) and I can make changes (e.g. items, delivery date) or cancel placed orders via the site as well. There is an. explanation of the fee structure and various charges and I can take advantage of special discounts, rebates and introductory offers. I note that the website allows me to purchase gift certificates (both electronic and paper). There is a fast checkout feature for clients possessing preferential status and for established long-term customers. I decide to make a purchase and note that the site provides a way to compare delivery options. The options include store, home or alternate address delivery. Having completed the order, I am informed in a shipping confirmation email as to how to check the order status and track delivery status (by providing a tracking number and a link to the selected carrier site). With further investigation, I realize that the website has features that allow me to cancel or change our products specifications after I place our order (e.g. cancel air travel reservations) and to exchange one item for another one. It also facilitates crediting my account for a returned or cancelled order and that it sends me confirmations of payments, returns and credits. Having received the product, I see that the company provides me with assessment criteria to help assess the condition of the product we have received, and with contact information (e.g. email, telephone numbers). 45 W F 1' W F 2 W F 3 W F 4 W F 5 W F 6 W F 7 W F 8 W F 9 W F 10 W F 11 W F 12 W F 13 W F 14 W F 15 W F 16 A p p e n d i x 7 Website Preference Items (rated from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree on a 7 point Likert Scale) • I would prefer using Website B for future purchases. I have no desire to buy from Website B. Using Website B would enabled me to shop more quickly. In my opinion, using Website B would increase my shopping effectiveness. The tools provided by Website B would allow me to more effectively conduct a buying transaction online. Overall, Website B seems more useful for shopping. Website B provides services that convey more of a sense of courtesy. t h e functions available on Website B provide a more pleasant environment. Website B has features that are more helpful in resolving any issues that arise after the buying the product. Appendix 8 Demographic Items •What is your gender? (1 = female; 2 = male) What is your age? What is your educational background? What is your household salary? ' What country do you reside in? (1 = USA, 2 = Canada, -1 = Other) Name of other country if not USA or Canada About how many websites did you purchase from in the last 6 months? How long have you been using the Internet? Please feel free to add any other comment, or suggestion below either about Website. B that you just evaluated or about this survey itself. 47 Appendix 9 Cultural Items (rated from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree on a 7 point Likert Scale) Cu 1 Group welfare is more important than individual rewards. Cu 2 Group success is more important than individual success. Cu 3 Being accepted by the members of your work group is very important. Cu 4 Employees should only pursue their goals after considering the welfare of the group. ' Cu 5 Managers should encourage group loyalty even if individual goals suffer. Cu 6 Individuals may be expected to give up their goals in order to benefit group success. Cu 7 It is important to have job requirements and instructions spelled out in detail so that employees always know what they are expected to do. . Cu 8 Managers expect employees to closely follow instructions and procedures. Cu 9 Rules and regulations are important because they inform employees what the organization expects of them. Cu 10 Standard operating procedures are helpful to employees on the job. Cu 11 Instructions for operations are important for employees on the job. Cu 12 Meetings are usually run more effectively when they are chaired by a man. Cu 1.3 It is more important for men to have a professional career than it is for women to have a professional career. Cu 14 Men usually solve problems with logical analysis; women usually solve problems with intuition. Cu 15 Solving organizational problems usually requires an active forcible approach which is typical of men. Cu 16 It is preferable to have a man in a high level position rather than a woman. Cu 17 Managers should make most decisions without consulting subordinates. Cu 18 It is frequently necessary for a manager to use authority and power when dealing with subordinates. Cu 19 Managers should seldom ask for the opinions of employees. Cu 20 Managers should avoid off-the-job social contacts with employees. Cu 21 Employees should not disagree with management decisions. Cu 22 Managers should not delegate important tasks to employees. 48 A p p e n d i x 10 The Questionnaire Rating Options and Attributed Values Value 1 Question 2 through 17 on Web Preferences Value Label Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Undecided Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree Value Question 18: What is your gender? 1 Value Label Female Male Value 1 Question 20: What is your educational background? Value Label Some high school or less High school Some college Bachelor's degree Some graduate school' Graduate degree Value 1. Question 21: What is your household salary? Value Label Below $25,000 25,000-34,999 35,000-44,999 45,000-54,000 55,000-64,999 65,000 or above Value Question 22: What country do you reside in? 1 -1 Value Label Canada U.S.A Other, please specify Value 1 Question 24: How long have you been using the Internet? Value Label less than 1 month 1 to 6 months 6 months to 1 year 1 to 2 years 2 to 5 years more than 5 years Value •1 Question 26 through 47 on Cultural Preferences Table 7 Value Label Strongly Disagree Disagree Somewhat Disagree Undecided Somewhat Agree Agree Strongly Agree Appendix 11 A Structure Matrix Analysis of Survey Items WF_1 WF_8 WF_6 WF_4 WF_5 WF_7 WF_3 WF_10 WF_2 Cu_14 Cu_15 Cu_16 Cu_13 Cu_12 Cuj.11 Cu_9 C.u_10 Cu_8 Cu_7 Cu_4 Cu_5 Cu_6 Cu_17 Cu_19 Cu_18 Cu_22 Cu_21 WF_9 WF_11 Cu_20 Cu_1 Cu_2 Cu_3 WF_12 WF_13 WF_15 WF_14 WF_16 Extraction Component 1 0.89 0.87 0.86 0.79 0.77 0.76 0.63 0.62 -0.59 0.36 0.54 0.48 0.63 0.55 0.41 0.33 -0.35 0.86 0.84 0.83 0.71 0.60 -0.36 0:89 0.88 0.79 0.73 0.56 -0.36 -0.85 -0.71 -0.70 0.41 0.32 0.44 0.44 0.31 0.45 0.59 0.53 -0.39 -0.32 -0.46 10 0.32 -0.45 0.31 -0.34 -0.86 -0.78 -0.69 -0.31 -0.31 -0.30 -0.87 -0.79 0.40 -0.40 0.89 0.84 0.33 0.47 0.40 0.62 0.42 0.88 -0.33 0.38 0.36 -0.34 0.42 0.87 0.78 0.60 . 11 -0.42343 -0.51507 -0.56743 -0.58979 -0.59862 -0.56414 -0.30587 -0.57321 0.520846 Method: Principal Component Analysis. Rotation Method: Oblimin with Kaiser Normalization. -0.36023 -0.50967 -0.84385 -0.8333 -0.82377 -0.8141 -0.62186 Figure 9 50 Appendix 12 Construct Groupings of Significance Cu1 Cu2 CG1 CG1 Collectivist Group welfare is more important than individual rewards. • Group success is more important than individual success. Cu 17 Cu20 Cu4 Cu5 Cu6 CG2 CG2 CG2 CG2 CG2 Power Distance / Collectivist Positive Managers should make most decisions without consulting subordinates. Managers should avoid off-the-job social contacts with employees. Employees should only pursue their goals after considering the welfare of the group. Managers should encourage group loyalty even if individual goals suffer. Individuals may be expected to give up their goals in order to benefit group success. Cu10 CG3 Cu 11 CG3 Cu 8 CG3 Cu9 CG3 Uncertainty Avoidance Standard operating procedures are helpful to employees on the job. Instructions for operations are important for employees on the job. Managers expect employees to closely follow instructions and procedures. Rules and regulations are important because they inform employees what the organization expects of them. Cu13 CG4 Cu 14 CG4 Cu15 CG4 Cu16 CG4 Feminine / Masculine It is more important for men to have a professional career than it is for women to have a professional career. Men usually solve problems with logical analysis; women usually solve problems with intuition. Solving'organizational problems usually requires an active forcible approach which is typical of men. It is preferable to have a man in a high level position rather than a woman. Cu 21 Cu22 CG5 CG5 Power Distance Negative Employees should not disagree with management decisions. Managers should not delegate important tasks to employees. WF 1 WF 4 WF 5 WF 6 WF 7 WF 8 WG1 WG1 WG1 WG1 WG1 WG1 Actual Shopping Experience I would prefer, using Website B for future purchases In my opinion, using Website B would increase my shopping effectiveness. The tools provided by Website B would allow me to more effectively conduct a buying transaction online. Overall, Website B seems more useful for shopping. Website B provides services that convey more of a sense of courtesy. The functions available on Website B provide a more pleasant environment. WF11 WF 9 WG2 WG2 Conflict Resolution If something were to go wrong, I think'Website B would give me more prompt service. Website B has features that are more helpful in resolving any issues that arise after the buying the product. WF12 WG3 WF13 WG3 WF14 WG3 WF15 WG3 Tools/features/functions Website B has more tools and functions that provide services beyond just the product that I may be purchasing. Website B has more tools that help me before, during and after purchase : Website B has helpful features which add value to my overall product experience Website B provides functions that help me more in the various stages I go through to acquire a product Table 8 51 Appendix 13 Pearson's Correlations All Group Factors and Demographics W G 1 W G 2 W G 3 C G 1 C G 2 C G 3 C G 4 C G 5 G E N D E R A G E E D U C A S A L A R Y C O U N T R Y E C O M I N T E R N E T . 5 9 8 ( " ) • . 7 3 5 ( " ) 0 . 0 1 - 0 . 0 5 - 0 . 0 6 - 0 . 0 2 0 . 1 7 - 0 . 1 2 - 0 . 0 5 . - 0 . 0 9 - 0 . 1 9 - 0 . 0 1 - 0 . 0 2 - 0 . 1 0 WfS1 Actual 0 0 0 . 9 5 0 . 7 1 • 0 . 6 4 0 . 8 7 . 0 . 2 0 0 . 3 5 0 . 7 3 0 . 5 0 0 . 1 5 0 . 9 3 0 . 8 7 0 . 4 3 WO I MLlUdl S h o p p i n g E x p e r i e n c e 6 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 . 6 0 6 0 6 0 5 9 5 8 5 9 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 W G 2 . 5 5 3 ( " ) 0 . 1 2 0 . 0 4 - 0 . 1 2 . 0 . 0 2 0 . 1 0 - 0 . 0 3 . 2 8 9 ( * ) 0 . 1 1 - 0 . 1 1 0 . 1 8 . 3 2 7 0 - 0 . 0 9 C o n f l i c t 0 0 . 3 8 0 . 7 4 0 . 3 5 0 . 9 0 0 . 4 6 0 . 8 3 0 . 0 3 0 . 4 0 0 . 4 4 0 . 1 7 0 . 0 1 0 . 5 0 R e s o l u t i o n 6 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 5 9 5 8 5 9 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 P e a r s o n Corre lat ion W G 3 T o o l s / .. - 0 . 0 5 0 . 0 4 - 0 . 1 6 ' 0 . 0 9 . 2 8 1 ( * ) 0 . 0 6 - 0 . 0 9 - 0 . 1 3 - 0 . 2 3 - 0 . 0 1 - 0 . 0 5 - 0 . 1 5 S i g . ( 2 - ta i led) F e a t u r e s / • 0 . 7 0 0 . 7 7 0 . 2 2 0 , 5 2 0 . 0 3 0 . 6 8 0 . 4 9 0 . 3 3 0 . 0 9 0 . 9 3 0 . 6 8 0 . 2 7 N F u n c t i o n s 6 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 5 9 5 8 5 9 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 P e a r s o n Correlat ion C G 1 C o l l e c t i v i s t 0 . 1 2 0 . 1 5 - 0 . 1 3 - 0 . 0 3 - 0 . 0 6 0 . 1 5 0 . 1 7 - 0 . 1 2 . 3 0 5 0 0 . 0 6 • - 0 . 1 2 S i g . ( 2 - ta i led) 0 . 3 5 0 . 2 6 0 . 3 2 0 . 8 4 0 . 6 4 0 . 2 6 0 . 2 0 0 . 3 7 0 . 0 2 0 . 6 4 0 . 3 8 N 6 0 6 0 6 0 6 0 5 9 5 8 5 9 . 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 P e a r s o n Corre lat ion 0 . 0 8 0 . 1 1 . 2 6 8 ( * ) 0 . 0 3 - 0 . 1 3 - . 3 1 8 0 - 0 . 2 2 0 . 1 2 - 0 . 2 2 - . 4 0 1 ( " ) S i g . ( 2 - ta i l ed ) C G 2 P D / C 0 . 5 6 0 . 4 1 0 . 0 4 0 . 8 2 0 . 3 5 0 . 0 1 0 . 1 1 0 . 3 7 0 . 1 0 0 . 0 0 N 6 0 6 0 6 0 5 9 . 5 8 . 5 9 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 P e a r s o n Correlat ion - 0 . 1 4 2 - 0 . 0 8 5 - 0 . 2 5 5 - 0 . 1 7 3 . 0 . 1 3 0 . 0 1 3 0 . 1 8 3 0 . 0 0 9 - 0 . 0 3 3 S i g . (2 - ta i led) C G 3 . U A ' 0 . 2 8 0 . 5 1 9 0 . 0 5 1 0 . 1 9 5 0 . 3 2 8 0 . 9 2 5 0 . 1 6 2 0 . 9 4 4 0 . 8 0 3 N 6 0 6 0 5 9 5 8 5 9 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 P e a r s o n Correlat ion . 3 2 1 ( « ) , 3 6 3 ( " ) 0 . 1 1 8 0 . 0 7 8 • " - 0 . 1 9 3 0 . 0 1 9 - 0 . 2 3 4 - 0 . 1 0 9 S i g . ( 2 - ta i led) C G 4 F / M 0 . 0 1 2 0 . 0 0 5 0 . 3 7 7 0 . 5 5 9 0 . 1 5 4 . 0 . 8 8 7 . 0 . 0 7 2 0 . 4 0 7 N 6 0 5 9 5 8 5 9 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 P e a r s o n Correlat ion C G 5 ' T y p e A 0 . 2 2 2 - . 3 0 9 0 - 0 . 2 1 4 - 0 . 1 3 3 - 0 . 1 7 5 - . 4 5 6 ( " ) . - 0 . 1 1 1 S i g . (2 - ta i led) 0 . 0 9 1 0 . 0 1 8 . 0 . 1 0 3 ' 0 . 3 3 0 . 1 8 0 0 . 4 N 5 9 5 8 5 9 5 6 6 0 6 0 6 0 P e a r s o n Correlat ion 0 . 0 2 5 - 0 . 0 0 5 0 . 0 9 0 . 0 5 7 0 . 0 3 5 - 0 . 0 1 5 S i g . ( 2 - t a i l e d ) - G E N D E R 0 . 8 5 1 0 . 9 6 9 0 . 5 0 8 0 . 6 6 9 0 . 7 9 1 0 . 9 1 1 5 8 5 9 • 5 6 5 9 5 9 5 9 P e a r s o n Correlat ion . 5 3 5 ( * * ) 0 . 1 1 7 . 3 1 9 0 . 5 3 3 ( " ) 0 . 0 4 1 ** Correlat ion is signif icant at the 0 . 0 1 level ( 2 - ta i l ed ) . S i g . (2 - ta i led) A G E 0 0 . 3 9 1 0 . 0 1 5 0 0 . 7 6 * Corre lat ion is s igni f icant at the 0 . 0 5 level ( 2 - ta i l ed ) . N 5 8 5 6 5 8 5 8 5 8 P e a r s o n Correlat ion - 0 . 0 0 9 . 2 5 7 ( * ) . 4 1 3 D . 2 8 9 0 ' S i g . ( 2 - ta i led) E D U C A 0 . 9 4 6 0 . 0 5 0 . 0 0 1 0 . 0 2 7 N 5 6 5 9 5 9 5 9 P e a r s o n Corre lat ion 0 . 0 7 2 0 . 1 3 4 0 . 0 2 1 S i g . ( 2 - ta i led) S A L A R Y • 0 . 5 9 9 0 . 3 2 3 0 . 8 7 6 N 5 6 5 6 5 6 P e a r s o n Correlat ion . 2 5 5 0 • - 0 . 0 3 8 S i g . ( 2 - ta i led) C O U N T R Y • 0 . 0 4 9 0 . 7 7 6 N 6 0 • 6 0 P e a r s o n Corre lat ion 0 . 1 3 7 S i g . ( 2 - ta i l ed ) E C O M 0 . 2 9 6 N 6 0 Figure 10 52 Appendix 14 Final Empirical Analysis Analysis of Relationship Between Generic WebPref ( W f 1 , W f 2 ) and Culture construct PD- ( C G 5 ) ANOVA(b) I Model Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig. Regression 26.650 1 26.650 3.827 .055(a) 1 Residual 403.933 58 6.964 Total 430.583 59 | a Predictors: (Constant), Culture b Dependent Variable: WebPre f Coefficients(a) Model Unstandardized Coefficients Standardized Coefficients t Sig. B Std. Error Beta B Std. Error 1 (Constant) 5.973 .891 6.703 .000 Culture .332 .170 .249 1.956 .055 a Dependent Var iable: WebPre f F igure 11 5 3 Appendix 15 Summary of Additional Comments Made Overall Cultural Orientation Score Overall Website Preference Score "Please feel free to add any other comment, or suggestion below either about Website B that you just evaluated or about this survey itself." Residing in... Gender Age Education Salary Country Ecomm Internet Use -0.95 1.63 I like the part where the website shows the FULL cost of the item including shipping/handling costs. If possible, have a function to add tax should there be any. Singapore 1 21 2 3 -1 4 6 -0.68 0.56 I like having all the information about the product when I click on the picture/link initially. Canada 1 20 2 5 1 0 5 -0.55 0.06 The "group participation" option sounds odd to me and I don't really understand it. Are they friends and family? Other shoppers? I don't think I would use this unless it was a very high priced item. Even then, I don't think I would use it on-line. USA 1 26. 4 1 2 5 6 -0.55 -0.63 I prefer more "do-it-yourself" type websites where information is there for research if you desire it, and not if you don't. While reviews and recommendations do play into my purchase decisions, I would trust independant sources more than "groups." Canada 2 23 4 2 1 8 6 -0.45 -1.06 I may be mistaken, but I found little significance in the difference between the two, one primary one was the use of the two groups to help with . decision making in Beta, which didn't really seem all that appealing to me. Canada 1 20 3 5 1 0 6 -0.14 -0.88 i made a purchase off amazon.ca. they have good coursebooks that are cheaper than those at the UBC bookstore, the textbook was Physical Chemistry, by Ira Levine. i also buy Negima manga from amazon.ca. i also make online purchases whenever i pay ubc tuition. Canada 2 19 4 2 1 2 6 -0.14 0.44 Some points that I couldn't really trust Website Beta were the well-known customer (who they really are and if they're credible) and the feedback form (if it really goes back to them) Japan 1 21 2 2 -1 0 5 -0.09 -1.06 I like the follow up email feature that website beta has provided with customers after shopping. Canada 1 25 V 4 1 1 0 6 0.64 -1.06 Not only the information on a website but the LOOK of a website sells Germany 1 25 6 1 -1 1 6 Table 9 54 Appendix 16 UBC Research Ethics Board's Certificates of Approval 


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