Assessing the impact of response styles on cross-cultural service quality evaluation: a simplified approach to eliminating the problem
With the proliferation of comparative research, it is important to recognize some of the inherent limitations of cross-cultural measurement. This article examines the impact of response styles on substantive conclusions of cross-cultural service quality research. The authors use relatively simple analysis methods in conditions where more sophisticated approaches are unlikely to be robust. They demonstrate how analysis of covariance and partial regression can be used to assess both differences in mean scores and differences in relationships. Their results demonstrate that conclusions drawn from analysis that ignores the potential impact of response styles differ from those drawn when response styles are considered. For researchers, their findings imply that attempts to understand and explain cultural differences in service quality expectations, and relationships between perceptions and overall quality assessments, may be impeded by the presence of response styles. A further impact relates to the assessment of "gaps" or a "zone of tolerance" in service quality evaluation. For managers, their conclusions have implications relating to the use of research findings as a basis for market segmentation, service design, staff training, and other resource allocation decisions. In particular, the authors question the use of such research as a basis for comparative service evaluation across cultures.