Cross-Cultural Approach to Evaluation of University Services

Cross-Cultural Approach to Evaluation of University Services

Margarita García Sanchis (Universitat de València, Spain), Irene Gil Saura (Universitat de València, Spain), Gloria Berenguer Contrí (Universitat de València, Spain) and Maria Fuentes Blasco (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4458-8.ch009
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Abstract

Increased competition between universities is generating the need for in-depth analysis of the processes underlying evaluation of university service because of its implications for student behaviour. Cross-cultural analysis of student perceptions is a fundamental approach. This chapter attempts to review the concept in the light of dimensional models of culture proposed by Hofstede (1980, 2001) and Schwartz (1994). Thus, based on a theoretical framework that reviews the main contributions to the concept of culture and evaluation of university service, a proposal has been developed for evaluating university service from a cross-cultural approach. The results show cultural differences between students from four different nationalities. Furthermore, Hofstede’s (2001) model has been found to be the most appropriate for evaluating cultural differences in this context.
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Introduction

Higher education in Europe is currently immersed in a dynamic evolutionary process. Universities must necessarily adapt to the changes taking place in their political, legal, economic, social and technological environment (Caruana et al., 1998), which are having a basic impact on the way university services are provided. The processes higher education institutions are currently dealing with include increased flows of people between universities, and in particular the international mobility of university students. The appearance of a series of economic and administrative facilities for student exchange has increased the international movement of students (Beerli et al., 2002). In addition, higher education institutions have also shown a growing trend towards internationalisation (Mazzarol, 1998). All of this has consequently increased competition between universities for students who now move from one region to another, more easily than ever before. A cross-cultural approach, that examines differences between nations, has become fundamental in any research in this context. Gogolin (2002) says that the use of a mono-cultural perspective in educational research means opportunities for progress in this field are being missed.

Furthermore, increased mobility as a consequence of competition between higher education institutions highlights the need to establish a conceptual framework to evaluate university services, placing the student as the main recipient of those services. The notion of competitive advantage was foreign to this sector, but nowadays it is vital for universities to understand that they are in a market (Oldfield & Baron, 2000), and they need to be aware not only of what society demands from them in terms of graduate training and qualifications, but also of students' perceptions of their educational experience (Munteanu et al., 2010). Changes in demand justify the importance of analysing the processes that lead to evaluation of the service and determine consumers' future behaviour (Marzo et al., 2005). It is fundamental to develop studies that provide an understanding of student profiles and behaviour, as they are the main customers for university services (Marzo et al., 2005; Redding, 2005; White, 2007). Studies in this area are more appropriate than ever, especially those that take a cross-cultural approach.

From a conceptual and operational approach there are three main constructs in the marketing services literature for evaluating services marketing: service quality, satisfaction and value (Cronin et al., 2000). The complex relations between these and other concepts such as image and loyalty mean that researchers must accept a holistic perspective, assuming the importance of antecedents in understanding behavioural responses, because the mere evaluation of satisfaction or service quality would be incomplete (González-Gallarza & Gil, 2006b).

Although we are immersed in processes of globalisation and integration that have led to the standardisation of various consumer characteristics, there are still cultural differences in certain aspects of consumer behaviour. Complex theoretical models on cultural differences, like those developed by Hofstede (1980, 2001) and Schwartz (Schwartz, 1994, 1999; Ros & Schwartz, 1995; Schwartz et al., 2001), and their influence on other researchers’ work, show the validity of this approach and its impact on various areas of knowledge. In the area of university service, culture has been shown to influence the service evaluation process (Pritchard, 2006; García-Aracil, 2009). However, the results of cross-cultural academic research flow slowly (De Mooij, 2000). There is still a relative paucity of literature in this context and hence a need for deeper exploration and development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Higher Education: Non-compulsory education provided after high school, usually at a college or university.

Consumer Behaviour: The behavior of the consumer engaging in various consumption experiences.

Loyalty: Consistent relationship established between the consumer and the provider.

Consumer Satisfaction: The degree to which a consumer’s expectations are fulfilled or surpassed by a product (American Marketing Association, 2012).

Image: The consumer perception of a product, institution, brand, business, or person that may or may not correspond with “reality” or “actuality” (American Marketing Association, 2012).

Cross-Cultural Analysis: Methodology used in social sciences, which involves the comparative study of different cultures.

Perceived Value: Multidimensional construct, reflecting a trade-off between positive (benefits) and negative (sacrifices) elements, and including cognitive and affective aspects, perceived by the consumer.

Service quality: An area of study that has developed to define and describe how services can be delivered in such a manner as to satisfy the recipient (American Marketing Association, 2012).

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