Semiotics as a theoretical basis for a meaning-centred approach towards country-of-origin effects
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Number of pages
X, 383 p.
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 11 mei 2006
Promotores : Bloemer, J.M.M., Kasper, J.D.P.
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Relatiemanagement - t/m 2007
SubjectNON-RU research; Onderzoek niet-RU
Numerous academics and marketers are sceptical about the relevance of research on country-of-origin (coo) effects. This criticism is based on a series of studies suggesting that coo-cues are of no more than marginal importance as determinants of people's attitudes towards foreign-sourced products. More specifically, this criticism is directed towards studies focussing on the relevance of a coo's more general environmental conditions (like for instance its cultural identity, political climate, geography, religion, language, national history, etc.). Additionally, the theoretical status of the coo-field as a whole has frequently been questioned for its lack of solidity and transparency. Our study intends to put this situation into its proper context. Its main objective is to contribute to a better 'understanding' of coo-effects with special attention going to the role of a coo's more general environmental conditions as determinants of attitude formation towards products made abroad. A large-scale field survey was designed, questioning a Belgian student sample about their images of Spain and Denmark's environmental conditions. Also, participants were questioned about their images of Spanish/Danish beer (hedonic product) and DVD-players (utilitarian product). Hypotheses concerning the structure of country images and their role as potential determinants of attitude formation were developed based on semiotics (and more in particular based on Discourse Theory). Data were analyzed by means of Structural Equation Modeling (AMOS 5.0). Results indicate first of all that images about Spanish/Danish country-related environmental conditions significantly contribute to the formation of attitudes towards Spanish/Danish beer and DVD-players. Secondly, these country images were found to be based on a hierarchically ordered tri-component structure. Thirdly, in line with Discourse Theory, it could be established how coo-effects are supported by composite mechanisms with country-related cognitions, feelings and conations operating simultaneously during product attitude formation. More in detail, effects generated by the country image's conative component were found to be strongest. Interestingly, country-related cognitions were more important for attitude formation towards DVD-players while country-specific feelings were more influential in case of beer. Finally, the level of cultural similarity with a product's coo did not moderate the size of coo-effects
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