Consumer Exclusionary Reactions to Foreign Businesses: A Cultural-Threat Perspective

  • CHENG, Shirley Y Y (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Globalization, the accelerating economic and political interdependence among nations, provides ample opportunities for businesses to go beyond geographical borders. In many developed societies, substantial international trade has made foreign brand names and products locally available. Individuals do not need to travel aboard to experience another culture. While foreign businesses are often welcomed, they occasionally stir up exclusionary reactions that aim to resist their potential influences on the local culture. The exclusion of Starbucks in the Imperial Palace Museum in China, the demolition of McDonald’s in France, and the torching of Benetton in Starbucks are a few examples of extreme exclusionary reactions. Other exclusionary reactions include boycotting and advocating unfavorable policies against foreign business.

    This research seeks to explain exclusionary consumer reactions toward foreign companies. Prior research approached this question by identifying stable individual differences. Those studies attributed exclusionary reactions to stable individual tendency. We add to the literature by proposing a cultural threat perspective of exclusionary reactions. According to the psychological literature, culture fulfills important psychological functions—it helps individuals to maintain certain desirable qualities of the self. Because of the connection between self and culture, individuals are motivated to protect their culture from potential threats such as continuity threat, distinctiveness threat, and meaning threat. If individuals perceive a threat to their culture, they will exhibit exclusionary behaviors that aim at alleviating the threat on their culture.

    The value of this perspective is threefold. First, cultural threat perspective delineates the underlying psychological process of exclusionary consumer reactions. This perspective specifies that when an incoming foreign company is perceived to be a threat to the local culture, the threat is essentially a threat to the self. Thus, exclusionary reaction is resulted. Second, the perspective incorporates contextual factors in predicting exclusionary reactions. Contextual factors, such as the current cultural environment and the local culture’s developmental trajectory, influence how much an incoming foreign company may be perceived as a threat to the local culture. The proposed perspective helps identify these contextual factors. Third, the perspective opens up a broad research agenda in studying exclusionary reactions. As a launching pad of the research program, the proposed research focuses on the effects of cultural continuity threat on consumer exclusionary reactions. Findings of the proposed research will inform researchers on the values of the cultural threat perspective, which potentially leads to multiple future research directions.

    Aside from its theoretical contribution, the proposed research would also have important practical implications for global marketing practices. By identifying the specific conditions that trigger consumer resistance towards foreign businesses, the findings of this research would generate managerial implications for companies to formulate their global positioning strategies.
    Effective start/end date1/09/1128/02/14


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