A Cross-Cultural Study of East Asian Adolescents' Influence in Family Purchase Decisions

By Su, Che-Jen; Wang, Sijun | Journal of Global Business and Technology, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

A Cross-Cultural Study of East Asian Adolescents' Influence in Family Purchase Decisions


Su, Che-Jen, Wang, Sijun, Journal of Global Business and Technology


ABSTRACT

This study investigates differences between adolescent influence in family purchase decisions in two similar cultures, namely South Korea and Taiwan. These cultures score almost identically along the dimensions of individualism, power distance, and long-term orientation. Results of a survey of South Korean and Taiwanese adolescents showed significant differences in their influence in family purchase decisions, and their use of influence strategies. Furthermore, we found a similar V-shaped pattern of influence in both groups as was reported in a recent study of Chinese and American adolescents (Wang et al., 2007). This contrasts with the conventional view of this as a declining pattern.

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INTRODUCTION

The dynamics of family decision making in consumer purchases has garnered international interest from researchers in various disciplines, such as marketing and psychology (see for example Brey and Lehto, 2008; El Aoud and Neeley, 2008; Epp and Price, 2008; Fodness, 1992; Treas and DeRuijter, 2008). It has been widely acknowledged that adolescent family members can play a key role in consumer decision making. However, with a few exceptions (such as Wang et al., 2007; Shoham and Dalakas, 2006; Belch and Willis, 2002), studies of adolescent influence have been conducted within the US (Foxman et al., 1989a, 1989b; Beatty and Talpade, 1994; Bao et al., 2007). What little cross-national research there is typically compares adolescents from eastern and western cultures. For instance, Wang and colleagues (2007) compared and contrasted Chinese and American adolescents' influence. They attribute the remarkable differences they find to the cultural difference between their samples in terms of individualism versus collectivism, high/low power distance, and short-term versus long-term orientations (Hofstede, 2001). It is not clear whether adolescents in collectivist (that is to say, eastern) cultures exert different levels of influence and utilize different strategies when trying to affect family purchase decisions. According to Hofstede (2001), East Asian nations or regions can be distinguished in terms of masculinity and uncertainty avoidance even though they share similar collectivistic values. These less-frequently studied cultural differences between East Asian adolescents could have a significant impact on their influence in family purchase decisions, because uncertainty avoidance is a factor in the different parenting styles and forms of parent-child interaction found in different societies (Hofstede, 2001). Masculinity, in turn, could also encourage or discourage adolescents' use of particular influence strategies, given that a culture's masculinity has been shown to affect the influence strategies used by organizational workers (see for example Su and Wang, 2006).

The main purpose of this study, therefore, is to investigate the possible impact of uncertainty avoidance and cultural masculinity on adolescents' influence in family purchase decisions and their use of particular influence strategies with their parents. Specifically, we used matched samples of South Korean and Taiwanese adolescents (aged 16-19 years) to examine the explanatory role of cultural values in adolescent influence across all decision-making stages as well as their use of influence strategies in this context. Hofstede's (2001) study suggests that South Korea and Taiwan have similar cultural orientations, as they score almost identically along the three dimensions of individualism, power distance, and long-term orientation. We will demonstrate that despite this, Taiwanese and South Korean adolescents tend to use different types of influence strategies and report different levels of influence over family purchases.

In this paper, we start by providing an overview of Hofstede's cultural dimensions theory (Hofstede, 2001; Hofstede and Bond, 1988), as well as of the major findings from the current literature on adolescent influence and influence strategy. …

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