Introduction to the special issue on "Issues and advances in international marketing research"

Rudolf R Sinkovics, Thomas Salzberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


“Issues and advances in international marketing research” is the title of this special issue of IMR. With an unprecedented proliferation of research methodologies, processes and procedures over the last couple of years, some readers might find that there is not much room for further advancement. In fact, this theme has been selected because, despite progress and methodological advancements, liberalising markets and technology impacts prompt for even more methodological and conceptual rigour when conducting research across borders. It has been argued that market dynamics and global competitive pressures create new challenges for researchers and companies (e.g. Craig and Douglas, 2001) and call for a diversification of research methods (Nakata and Huang, 2005). International marketing research is challenged in two significant ways. Firstly, it needs to fulfil the intrinsic quest for extending and also transcending boundaries, which is characteristic of any scientific research. The process of internationalisation and globalisation, however, represents a powerful external trigger specifically for cross-national research. Secondly, international research entails additional methodological problems due to the increased complexity making it exceptionally prone to errors and misleading conclusions. These challenges persist, irrespective of paradigmatic views, whether following a qualitative or quantitative perspective. The call for papers solicited topics including reliability and validity issues in international marketing research, safeguarding equivalence in cross-national/cross-cultural research, construct measurement issues, development of frameworks for construct measurement, demonstration of appropriate modelling techniques, innovative qualitative designs, techniques or experiments and applications of tools or techniques for cross-cultural studies from other disciplines. The call for papers prompted submission of 19 papers. This somewhat modest response was surprising to us, but may indicate that the next wave of methodological advancements and methodological pluralism is yet to come. Most of the contributions were following quantitative methodology and while companies are said to direct an increasing share of their market research budgets to qualitative designs, the submissions to this special issue did not mirror this development. Additionally, our invitation for comparative ethnography was not taken up, and we believe that there is still much room for the application of tools and techniques such as simulations. In all, “advancement in international marketing research” appears to be incremental, focusing on established methodologies, rather than radical, in terms of pushing us towards fundamentally new research avenues. Of the papers received, 13 passed a first screening by the guest editors and were subsequently subjected to a more thorough review process, strictly following the IMR procedures (2-3 double-blind peer-reviews). One of these papers is authored by the guest editors, yet was as a matter of course also subjected to the review process. The review process resulted in five manuscripts accepted for publication in this special issue. All manuscripts include empirical foundations to varying degrees. The first paper of this special issue by Albert Caruana and Michael T. Ewing looks at the psychometric properties of eTail quality across different product categories in three countries. The testing procedures for conceptual and psychometric equivalence are a useful showcase for equivalence testing. This paper also makes a strong argument in favour of replication and extension research in International Marketing Research. While scholars agree that building on established work is worthwhile and scientifically meritorious, published papers in marketing journals provide scant evidence. This paper is a replication with extension that examines the applicability of online service quality. It tests whether earlier US based findings can be generalised to other countries. Rosanna Garcia and Destan Kandemir explore how moderation can and should be modeled in cross-national/cultural contexts. They build on a multi-national study of consumer involvement to demonstrate appropriate methods for modelling different types of moderation. Specifically, they demonstrate how to identify form and strength moderators. Form moderators are modelled using multiplicative interactions while strength moderators are modelled using multi-group SEM. The authors provide a valuable research framework which should help to utilise their approach with cross-country datasets. The guest editors to this special issue, Thomas Salzberger and Rudolf Sinkovics, are “Reconsidering the problem of data equivalence in international marketing research”. The paper contrasts approaches of equivalence testing based on CFA and the Rasch model for measurement by reanalysing a cross-country dataset on technophobia. Data equivalence is closely connected to the measurement theory employed. While most international marketing research builds on classical test theory, recently, approaches based on item response theory, or latent trait theory (LTT), have been suggested as a promising alternative to this standard paradigm (Schaffer and Riordan, 2003; Singh, 2004). Given very attractive features of this paradigm, which is well adopted in other disciplines, the authors introduce the Rasch (1960) model, which is a special class of LTT models, to international marketing research. Elfriede Penz, in her paper “Researching the socio-cultural context: putting social representations theory into action” demonstrates the value of boundary-spanning of academic disciplines. She applies the social representations theory, which originates in the social psychology literature, to the context of international marketing research. This is important because the marketing community will not necessarily be familiar with the reasoning of this branch of the literature, built around some French authors. It is also innovative because the social representations theory is utilised to study what members of a certain culture think of objects and products, which values they associate with these and which norms they follow. In practical research terms, the contribution is that social representations go beyond the traditional confines of groups and/or multidimensional research methodologies with individual views and perspectives. Finally, the paper by Sharon Loane, Jim Bell and Rod McNaughton, posits that new information communication technologies (ICT), particularly the Internet, can significantly improve the robustness of qualitative and mixed-method international marketing research. The authors describe and evaluate the application of ICT in a cross-national study of rapidly internationalising small firms. They develop a conceptual framework and outline how the appropriate integration of ICT into the research process can help to refine sample identification and selection procedures, improve response rates and encourage greater respondent “buy-in” to depth interviews.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-352
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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