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Edited by Subhash C. Jain and David A. Griffith
Chapter 4: Relevance and Rigor in International Marketing Research: Developments in Product and Brand Origin Line of Inquiry
Saeed Samiee and Leonidas C. Leonidou INTRODUCTION Country of origin (CO) effects on buyer behavior has been an issue of major concern for both academics and practitioners since the early 1960s, when the first writings appeared on the subject. In fact, this topic is one of the most widely researched phenomena in the international business, marketing and consumer behavior fields, with more than 1000 publications produced since its inception (Heslop et al., 2008). Notably, CO research continues to grow at an accelerated pace and interest in the topic appears to be as strong as ever. CO studies have repeatedly confirmed that both consumer and business buyers tend to react either positively or negatively toward countries and, consequently, products (design, engineering, manufacturing, and/or assembly) originating from there. With the proliferation of the CO research, some scholars have raised serious questions about the rigor and relevance of CO studies. Usunier (2006), for example, states that: The consensus about relevance [of CO research] lingered despite the increasing globalization of manufacturing and marketing operations and growing consumer acceptance of products irrespective of origin. Reasons for marketing researchers to stick to CO research, despite its decreasing relevance, were that its significance is backed by a strong legitimizing narrative and data can easily be generated from surveys. Empirical approaches, based on data collection and statistical analysis, provide research with academic credibility. It is our contention that research feasibility has dominated over positive description of the research objects. Relevance has been sacrificed for the sake of convenience....
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