DISSERTATION RESEARCH

Title: A Comprehensive Model of the Role of Country-of-Origin on Consumer Purchase Decisions

This dissertation develops and tests a comprehensive theoretical model of country-of-origin effects on consumer beliefs, attitudes and purchase behavior. Most previous studies identified differences in consumer evaluations of products "made in" different countries (Nagashima1971, 1977). Some focused on the effects of country-of-origin on consumer purchase decisions (Schooler and Wildt 1968; Han 1988). Country-of-origin itself has become less clear with the growth of multinational production Han and Terpstra (1987) and Chao (1992) studied the effects of both country-of-design and country-of-assembly for bi-national products on product evaluations. Like most studies, they focused on country effects on consumer beliefs about products, but not the effects of country on attitudes toward buying products. Recently the product country literature has begun to focus on consumer characteristics such as consumer ethnocentric tendency (Shimp and Sharma 1987) and consumer patriotism (Han 1988) as an explanation of differing country-of-origin "effects" across consumers.

The recently completed dissertation built a comprehensive theoretical model of country-of design and assembly effects on consumers' product beliefs and attitudes toward purchasing products designed and manufactured in different countries. The model incorporated measures of relevant consumer characteristics such as ethnocentrism, as well as social norms that affect decisions of whether or not to purchase foreign, domestic, or bi-national products. The model is similar to that suggested (but as-yet untested) by Obermiller and Spangenberg (1989) and has its foundation in the extended Fishbein Model and the Theory of Reasoned Action (Fishbein and Ajzen 1975). A structural equations model was estimated using data from a survey instrument using data collected from 422 car owners. The results have shown that country of origin affects highly ethnocentric consumers' attitudes toward buying cars, whereas among consumers who are not highly ethnocentric, country is as used a cue of product quality.