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Cultural differences
          reflected on the internet:

     A comparison between Belgian and Dutch
                   ...
Overview


 Introduction
 Culture and cultural sensitivity of websites
 Cultural differences between Belgium and
  the ...
Introduction


The growth of the internet as an international
 communication medium raises the question
 whether to stand...
Cultural sensitivity of websites
 In favour of standardization
  – Mass communication medium with worldwide
    accessibi...
Cultural sensitivity of websites
 In favour of adaptation
  – Other researchers argue that the internet is not a cultural...
Cultural differences between
Belgium and the Netherlands

 Local (Dutch and Belgian) companies often
  assume that Belgiu...
Cultural differences between
Belgium and the Netherlands

  In fact, no countries (…) with a common
        border and a c...
Cultural differences between
 Belgium and the Netherlands
 Socio-scientific approach to culture

 It can be conceived as...
Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions
 Power distance
 Appreciation of social inequality and hierarchy
 Masculinity
 The extent...
Cultural differences between
    Belgium and the Netherlands
                    The
                              Belgium...
Cultural differences between
    Belgium and the Netherlands
                Hofstede   Hofstede     Orriëns   Claes & Ger...
Research Objective & Hypotheses

Research objective:
    To explore whether cultural differences between
    Belgium and t...
Methodology

 Elaborate content analysis of commercial websites of
  both countries (cfr. Singh & Baack, 2004)
 40 Dutch...
Methodology
 Power distance (7 items)
  company hierarchy information, pictures of CEO’s, Quality information
  and award...
Analyses and Results
                           The Netherlands                   Belgium       Flanders      Wallonia

  ...
Analyses and Results
                   The
                             Belgium                                  t-test
 ...
Analyses and Results
                                  The Netherlands   Belgium                                    χ2-tes...
Analyses and Results
 H1 confirmed

Websites of Belgian online retailers reflect a
 higher level of ‘Power distance’ tha...
Analyses and Results
                           The Netherlands                   Belgium       Flanders      Wallonia

  ...
Analyses and Results
                   The
                             Belgium                                  t-test
 ...
Analyses and Results
                        The Netherlands   Belgium                                    χ2-test

       ...
Analyses and Results
 H2 confirmed

Websites of Belgian online retailers reflect a higher level of
 ‘Masculinity’ than D...
Analyses and Results

Within Belgium websites of Walloon online
 retailers appear to reflect a higher level of
 ‘Masculin...
Analyses and Results
                           The Netherlands                   Belgium       Flanders      Wallonia

  ...
Analyses and Results
                   The
                             Belgium                                  t-test
 ...
Analyses and Results
                            The Netherlands   Belgium                                    χ2-test
    ...
Analyses and Results


Websites of Belgian online retailers do not
 seem to reflect a higher level of ‘Uncertainty
 Avoid...
Analyses and Results


Within Belgium websites of Walloon online
 retailers do appear to reflect a higher level of
 ‘Unce...
Analyses and Results
                           The Netherlands                   Belgium       Flanders      Wallonia

  ...
Analyses and Results
                   The
                             Belgium                                  t-test
 ...
Analyses and Results
                               The Netherlands   Belgium                                      χ2-test...
Analyses and Results
 H4 confirmed

Websites of Belgian online retailers do not
 seem to reflect a different level of
 ‘...
Analyses and Results


Within Belgium websites of Walloon online
 retailers do appear to reflect a higher level of
 ‘Coll...
Conclusions
 Cultural differences in mentality between Belgium
  and the Netherlands are also reflected in their
  respec...
To be continued…

The present study did not investigate the
effectiveness of locally adapted commercial
websites
We only...
Questions?
                           Contact information


                     Prof. Dr. Malaika Brengman
              ...
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071010 cultural differences reflected on the internet brengman malaika ppt

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071010 cultural differences reflected on the internet brengman malaika ppt

  1. 1. Cultural differences reflected on the internet: A comparison between Belgian and Dutch e-commerce websites Prof. dr. Malaika Brengman ‘The Myth of the Global Internet’ BELGIUM ECREA Symposium 2007 1 Brussels, BELGIUM
  2. 2. Overview  Introduction  Culture and cultural sensitivity of websites  Cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands  Research question and hypotheses  Methodology  Analyses & Results  Conclusions
  3. 3. Introduction The growth of the internet as an international communication medium raises the question whether to standardize or to adapt marketing communications via the www.
  4. 4. Cultural sensitivity of websites  In favour of standardization – Mass communication medium with worldwide accessibility – Some researchers are convinced that cultural factors have no influence on website perception – Some have even argued that the internet has promoted “the emergence of a cosmopolitan online culture, a hybrid culture overriding traditional cultural differences”
  5. 5. Cultural sensitivity of websites  In favour of adaptation – Other researchers argue that the internet is not a culturally neutral medium – They confirm that there are intercultural differences in perception of website content and stress that values, images, themes and symbols should be adapted to local cultures. – It is an interactive medium, making a high degree of audience adaptation possible. – It is argued that the more a website is transaction-oriented, the more it should be localized (language, content, interface design) in order to gain customer’s confidence and sales.
  6. 6. Cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands  Local (Dutch and Belgian) companies often assume that Belgium and the Netherlands (as neighbours with a common language) are the ideal countries to make their first steps towards international expansion.  They often tend to ignore important cultural differences (Kotler et al., 2006).
  7. 7. Cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands In fact, no countries (…) with a common border and a common language are so culturally apart (…) as (Dutch) Belgium and the Netherlands”. Geert Hofstede, 1980, p228
  8. 8. Cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands  Socio-scientific approach to culture  It can be conceived as a mental predisposition in attitudes and behaviour acquired and preserved by education and social relations. It is a collective phenomenon, with at its core a number of positive and negative values, which can be summarized in 5 to 7 cultural dimensions (Hofstede, 1980& 2001; Trompenaers, 1994)
  9. 9. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions  Power distance Appreciation of social inequality and hierarchy  Masculinity The extent to which masculine values as assertiveness, competition, urge for achievement and success prevail in comparison to more feminine values such as life quality, nurturing, helpfulness and solidarity  Uncertainty Avoidance The degree to which individuals tend to avoid ambiguous situations and to take risks when making decisions  Collectivism The degree to which ties between members of a community are rather loose (i.e. individualistic) or tight (i.e. collectivistic) (Hofstede, 1980, 2001)
  10. 10. Cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands The Belgium France Netherlands Flanders Wallonia Power 38 65 61 67 68 Distance Masculinity 14 54 43 60 43 Uncertainty 53 94 97 93 86 Avoidance Individualism 80 75 78 72 71 (Hofstede, 1980, 2001)
  11. 11. Cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands Hofstede Hofstede Orriëns Claes & Gerritsen (1980) (2001) (1998) Gerritsen (2001) IBM Managers Banking- (2004) ICT-sector Be vs Nl ’60-’70 1990 sector 1998 Students 2001 1998 Power Distance +23 +16 +25 +18 +20 Masculinity +29 +21 +13 +18 +12 Uncertainty +44 +53 +47 +47 +43 Avoidance Individualism -2 -4 -26 -4 No data
  12. 12. Research Objective & Hypotheses Research objective: To explore whether cultural differences between Belgium and the Netherlands are actually reflected in their respective commercial websites. Hypotheses: We expect Belgian commercial sites (vs Dutch ones) H1 – to reflect more ‘Power Distance’ H2 – to display a higher level of ‘Masculinity’ H3 – to reflect a higher level of ‘Uncertainty Avoidance H4 – to display no difference in collectivism
  13. 13. Methodology  Elaborate content analysis of commercial websites of both countries (cfr. Singh & Baack, 2004)  40 Dutch and 40 Belgian commercial websites (20 Flemish and 20 Walloon) have been analyzed in a systematic way  5 sectors: online sellers of clothing, books, music, computers and travel (for each sector 8 sites per country)  Online retailers identified through search engines
  14. 14. Methodology  Power distance (7 items) company hierarchy information, pictures of CEO’s, Quality information and awards, vision statement, rank or prestige of the company, pride of ownership appeal, proper titles  Masculinity (7 items) Quizzes and games, hard sell approach, explicit comparisons, realism theme, product effectiveness, use of superlatives, clear gender roles  Uncertainty Avoidance (9 items) Customer service, secure payment, guided navigation, tradition theme, local stores, local terminology, free trials and downloads, customer testimonials, toll free numbers  Collectivism (8 items) community relations, clubs or chat room, newsletter, family theme, country specific information, symbols and pictures of nation, loyalty programs, links to local websites (Singh & Baack, 2004)
  15. 15. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium Flanders Wallonia 5 4 3 2 1 0 ce ty e m an lin i nc vis ist c u oida ec ti r D as Av oll o we M int y C P rta e Unc
  16. 16. Analyses and Results The Belgium t-test Netherlands Flanders Wallonia t-test Power Distance 1.50 2.40 1.90 2.90 n.s. P=.036 (7 items) Masculinity (7 items) 2.80 3.53 2.90 4.15 p=.009 P=.014 Uncertainty Avoidance 3.35 3.73 3.10 4.35 p=.002 n.s. (9 items) Collectivism (8 items) 2.13 2.53 2.10 2.95 p=.050 n.s.
  17. 17. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium χ2-test Flanders Wallonia χ2-test Power Distance (%) (%) (%) (%) Company Hierarchy Information 7.5 32.5 25 40 n.s. p = .005 Pictures of CEO’s 2.5 20 25 15 n.s. p = .014 Quality Information and Awards 20 27.5 25 30 n.s. n.s. Vision Statement 25 40 20 60 p = .011 n.s. Rank or Prestige of the Company 22.5 30 5 55 p = .001 n.s. Pride of Ownership appeal 65 47.5 45 50 n.s. n.s. Proper Titles 7.5 42.5 45 40 n.s. p < .000
  18. 18. Analyses and Results  H1 confirmed Websites of Belgian online retailers reflect a higher level of ‘Power distance’ than Dutch ones + information on company hierarchy + depictions of CEO’s + use of proper titles of address
  19. 19. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium Flanders Wallonia 5 4 3 2 1 0 ce ty e m an lin i nc vis ist c u oida ec ti r D as Av oll o we M int y C P rta e Unc
  20. 20. Analyses and Results The Belgium t-test Netherlands Flanders Wallonia t-test Power Distance 1.50 2.40 1.90 2.90 n.s. P=.036 (7 items) Masculinity (7 items) 2.80 3.53 2.90 4.15 p=.009 P=.014 Uncertainty Avoidance 3.35 3.73 3.10 4.35 p=.002 n.s. (9 items) Collectivism (8 items) 2.13 2.53 2.10 2.95 p=.050 n.s.
  21. 21. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium χ2-test Flanders Wallonia χ2-test Masculinity (%) (%) (%) (%) Quizzes and games 10 22.5 20 25 n.s. n.s. Hard Sell Approach 57.5 72.5 65 80 n.s. n.s. Explicit Comparisons 0 12.5 0 25 p = .024 p = .027 Realism Theme 72.5 72.5 75 70 n.s. n.s. Product Effectiveness 85 65 65 65 n.s. p = .035 Use of Superlatives 35 65 40 90 p = .001 p = .007 Clear Gender Roles 20 42.5 25 60 p = .027 p = .026
  22. 22. Analyses and Results  H2 confirmed Websites of Belgian online retailers reflect a higher level of ‘Masculinity’ than Dutch ones + superlatives + distinction between the sexes + explicit comparisons (However Walloon sites seem mainly responsible for these differences) Nevertheless: - emphasis on effectiveness of products
  23. 23. Analyses and Results Within Belgium websites of Walloon online retailers appear to reflect a higher level of ‘Masculinity’ than Flemish ones + superlatives + distinction between the sexes + explicit comparisons
  24. 24. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium Flanders Wallonia 5 4 3 2 1 0 ce ty e m an lin i nc vis ist c u oida ec ti r D as Av oll o we M int y C P rta e Unc
  25. 25. Analyses and Results The Belgium t-test Netherlands Flanders Wallonia t-test Power Distance 1.50 2.40 1.90 2.90 n.s. P=.036 (7 items) Masculinity (7 items) 2.80 3.53 2.90 4.15 p=.009 P=.014 Uncertainty Avoidance 3.35 3.73 3.10 4.35 p=.002 n.s. (9 items) Collectivism (8 items) 2.13 2.53 2.10 2.95 p=.050 n.s.
  26. 26. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium χ2-test Flanders Wallonia χ2-test Uncertainty (%) (%) (%) (%) Avoidance Customer Service 90 95 95 95 n.s. n.s. Secure Payment 70 70 50 90 p = .007 n.s. Guided Navigation 82.5 87.5 75 100 p = .024 n.s. Tradition Theme 20 25 20 30 n.s. n.s. Local Stores 52.5 57.5 50 65 n.s. n.s. Local Terminology 2.5 5 0 10 n.s. n.s. Free Trials and Downloads 2.5 27.5 15 40 n.s. p = .002 Customer Testimonials 12.5 5 5 5 n.s. n.s. Toll Free Numbers 2.5 0 0 0 n.s. n.s.
  27. 27. Analyses and Results Websites of Belgian online retailers do not seem to reflect a higher level of ‘Uncertainty Avoidance’ than Dutch ones Nevertheless: + free downloads and trials
  28. 28. Analyses and Results Within Belgium websites of Walloon online retailers do appear to reflect a higher level of ‘Uncertainty Avoidance’ in comparison to Flemish websites + emphasis on security of payment + possibility of guided navigation
  29. 29. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium Flanders Wallonia 5 4 3 2 1 0 ce ty e m an lin i nc vis ist c u oida ec ti r D as Av oll o we M int y C P rta e Unc
  30. 30. Analyses and Results The Belgium t-test Netherlands Flanders Wallonia t-test Power Distance 1.50 2.40 1.90 2.90 n.s. P=.036 (7 items) Masculinity (7 items) 2.80 3.53 2.90 4.15 p=.009 P=.014 Uncertainty Avoidance 3.35 3.73 3.10 4.35 p=.002 n.s. (9 items) Collectivism (8 items) 2.13 2.53 2.10 2.95 p=.050 n.s.
  31. 31. Analyses and Results The Netherlands Belgium χ2-test Flanders Wallonia χ2-test Collectivism (%) (%) (%) (%) Community Relations 7.5 2.5 0 5 n.s. n.s. Clubs or Chat room 15 27.5 30 25 n.s. n.s. Newsletter 57.5 57.5 60 55 n.s. n.s. Family Theme 27.5 45 n.s. 25 65 p = 0.012 Country Specific Information 22.5 12.5 10 15 n.s. n.s. Symbols & Pictures of Nation 10 17.5 5 30 p = .046 n.s. Loyalty Programs 20 40 p = 0.043 45 35 n.s. Links to Local Web sites 52.5 50 35 65 n.s. n.s.
  32. 32. Analyses and Results  H4 confirmed Websites of Belgian online retailers do not seem to reflect a different level of ‘Collectivism’ than Dutch ones Nevertheless: + loyalty programs
  33. 33. Analyses and Results Within Belgium websites of Walloon online retailers do appear to reflect a higher level of ‘Collectivism’ than Flemish ones + family themes + symbols and images of national identity
  34. 34. Conclusions  Cultural differences in mentality between Belgium and the Netherlands are also reflected in their respective commercial websites. + Power Distance + Masculinity  We also revealed some significant cultural differences reflected between Walloon and Flemish commercial websites + Masculinity + Uncertainty Avoidance + Collectivism
  35. 35. To be continued… The present study did not investigate the effectiveness of locally adapted commercial websites We only established that there are cultural differences which appear to be reflected in commercial websites  In a subsequent phase of this research project, an experimental study will be carried out in order to investigate this crucial question
  36. 36. Questions? Contact information Prof. Dr. Malaika Brengman Tel.: +32 2 629 20 65 E-mail: malaika.brengman@vub.ac.be Department of Business Economics and Strategic Management Faculty of Economics, Social and Political Sciences, and Solvay Business School Vrije Universiteit Brussel Pleinlaan 2 1050 Brussel BELGIUM

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