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Research Design and Dissertation

Research Design and Dissertation

The dissertation topic to be considered concerns the influence the country of origin on consumer
behaviour mainly because it is a phenomenon which is significantly affecting international
business where consumers prefer products from certain countries compared to others. The
research report will specifically involve conducting an unstructured interview inn order to make
sure that the questions of concern are answered and the answers provided are analysed for the
sake of giving out the research findings in form of a statistical findings which are presentable.
According to the selected dissertation topic which is “the influence the country of origin on
consumer behaviour”, stating the research problem would specifically involve this issue. For
instance, the use of products from outside the home country among consumers worldwide has
been increasing despite the production of similar products in their countries which are made
locally. This implies that consumer behaviour, and particularly the perceptions and attitudes of
local consumers towards products made in varied countries seem to be different. However, it is

Research Report 2
important to note that the noted variations in perception and attitude among consumers can be
attributed to the influence of country of origin on consumer behaviour mainly because it affects
the perceived value and perceived quality of the product in market, eventually influencing the
loyalty of consumers towards particular product brands.
The purpose of this research is to the influence of country of origin effects on consumer
behaviour among consumers as well as their perceived quality and value of certain products
manufactured in various countries, and how this relates to consumer loyalty towards the
considered product.
The objectives of this research are as follows:
i. To examine influence of the effects of a product’s country of origin on consumer behaviour
among consumers.
ii. To establish how country of origin influences consumer loyalty towards a product.

In addition, the research questions are shown below as follows:
i. How does country of origin influence consumer behaviour among consumers?
ii. How does the country of origin effects influence consumer loyalty towards a product?

This kind of research has crucial importance mainly because country of origin has in the recent
past become an important factor in the determination of consumer behaviour in international
across the world. This implies that, the findings of this research would be of great help to
manufacturers of various products both locally and internationally because they would of critical
significance in helping them to understand the influence of country of origin effects on consumer

Research Report 3
behaviour. This would help to enable manufacturers and marketers to devise the necessary
competitive strategies which would help in terms of survival, customer retention, market share
expansion, and building product loyalty among consumers.
Data Production and Method
This research used unstructured interview to collect information from a postgraduate student
within the same department who was not my friend, but a friend of my classmate. A student
within the same department of business was selected mainly because such an interviewee would
be in a better position to understand the issue and/or phenomenon under study thereby making
sure that the answers given to the questions asked during the unstructured interview are more
appropriate and precise to the intended outcome (Denzin and Lincoln, 2005). The postgraduate
student selected to participate in the unstructured interview is in his first year of studies, but has
diverse knowledge on various contemporary business topics especially those concerning
international business considering that the interviewee has significant experience in international
The choice for an unstructured interview to conduct this study was mainly because it is a
spontaneous conversation, which does not involve asking of specific questions in a
predetermined order since it involves collection of information concerning varied aspects of the
issue and/or phenomenon under investigation (Silverman, 2000). The reason why unstructured
interview was selected is due to the fact that the research respondents and/or participants and the
researcher engage in a formal interview where both schedule time to sit and speak with each
other in an interview in order to get answers for all the questions (Patton, 2002).  Despite the
unstructured interview not having a particular schedule, the interviewer has a clear plan in mind

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concerning the goal and focus of the interview mainly for the purpose of guiding the discussion. 
Moreover, a structured interview guide is not available and the interviewer builds rapport with
the research respondents and/or participants by getting them to willingly open-up and express
their views and opinions in their own way (Gillham, 2005; Saunders, 2006).  This is mainly
attributable to the fact that questions asked are usually open-ended and express little control over
the responses of the informants.
This implies that unstructured interview should be used when significant understanding has been
developed about the research topic as well as the research setting. This is mainly because this
would allow an open discussion between the interwar/researcher and the interviewees making
sure that succinct, explicit and precise answers about the considered questions are obtained from
the research respondents. Additionally, during an unstructured interview which often consists of
open-ended questions and discussions, details of the interview particularly those concerning the
main issues of the research should be recorded either manually using a pen and paper or digitally
using recorders (Marschan-Piekarit and Welch, 2005). This is usually very essential in helping
the interviewer towards focusing on the interaction with the research respondent or participant
and following the discussion.
Furthermore, the unstructured interviews have many benefits which continued to make them
useful against other methods of research. Firstly, the unstructured interviews are helpful in
developing an understanding of the issue or phenomenon under investigation explicitly (Mason,
2002).  Secondly, unstructured interviews are essential in allowing researchers towards focusing
on the respondents’ talk on the research topic, and in most cases it gives the researchers an
opportunity to test their preliminary understanding regarding the research topic, while still giving

Research Report 5
them an opportunity for new ways to see and understand the research topic.  Finally, the
unstructured interviews are in most cases used as crucial preliminary steps in the process of
developing more structured interviews (Eriksson and Kovalainen, 2008).
Additionally, ethical issues must also be considered in the research methods mainly to make sure
that the research is ethically upright in terms of the main ethical issues which must be considered
for the purpose of making sure that there is no violation of ethical issues because the research
includes human subjects and/or subjects (Gummesson, 1991). In particular, obtaining informed
consent as well as privacy and confidentiality are the most significant ethical issues that were
considered during this research. For instance, informed consent must be obtained from all the
research respondents and/or participants to make sure that all those taking part in the research do
so willingly and without any form of coercion. This indicates that any information gained from
the research respondents and/or participants would be relied upon in the analysis of the research
findings since no single respondent or participant was forced to take part in the research process
(Saunders et al, 2006).
The other ethical issues that were considered in this research include confidentiality and privacy
which particularly regards that any information obtained from the research respondents and/or
participants should remain private and confidential. This means that any unauthorized person
should not be allowed to access any information obtained from the participants of the research
unless the necessary authorizations are granted (Burns, 2000). This helps in making sure that the
identities of the individuals from where the research information is obtained are not reveal to
avoid compromising the validity and reliability of the research findings. The recorded
information should then be kept safe and away from any unauthorized individual for the purpose

Research Report 6
of making sure it can be retrieved at a later date in a good form which would enable it to be used
for many times throughout the research period without compromising its quality or content
(Bryman and Bell, 2007).
This section presents the actual questions asked during the conversation between the interviewer
and interviewee in a chronological manner whereby the opening conversation is involved
together follow-up questions as well as closing remarks. The first set of questions concerns the
process involved in preparing and writing a dissertation meaning that the questions are specific
to the process of writing a dissertation. Additionally, considering that the research topic involves
a study of the influence of country of origin to consumer behaviour amongst consumers, it is
important specific questions concerning the topic will also be asked as shown below for the
purpose of making sure that the goal or aim of the research is achieved.
Transcription from the interview
Part A of the interview (General questions on dissertations writing process)
Interview questions Response
1 The most important issue when selecting a research topic is that you

should have interest in it and sufficient knowledge

2 Research questions, aims and objectives formulated through literature

review or discussion with the supervisor

3 Research questions, aims and objectives importance is to ensure that the
research does not deviate by keeping it in line with intended outcome

Research Report 7
4 A dissertation should be structured in five chapters in the following
order: introduction, literature review, methodology, analysis and
discussion and finally the conclusion and recommendations

5 Literature review expounds on the knowledge on the topic being

researched or helps to get new knowledge

6 Research type and/or design adopted by researcher is influenced by

research questions and research strategy

7 Type of interview adopted by the researcher is influenced by the level of

information obtained from the respondents

8 Semi-structured interview helps to generated data in an orderly manner
through a set schedule, but rigid. Unstructured interview is easy to
conduct, but the collected data not orderly.

9 By ensuring that the research materials are diverse and varied
10 The process of selecting part of the population to use in research work

to make generalisations about the entire population
11 An entire set from where the sample is selected
12 Privacy of the respondents and confidentiality of whatever is discussed

as well as seeking consent of the respondents
13 In bar graphs, pie charts, line graphs, and histograms
14 Discussion of the research findings is find their relationships between
them and existing theories or form the platform for future research in
case of a new area of research

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Part B of the interview (Specific research topic questions)
Interview questions Response
1 Preferences are: price, quality of the product as well as country of origin
2 Yes, I do know considering that influences the purchase of me buying

the product

3 Yes, I do prioritise the country of origin because of the quality

probability of the product

4 I simply refuse to purchase because I don’t know the quality and

probably the satisfaction I may gain when I buy

5 Yes, because technological aspects are very important for example when

considering the electronics

6 Yes, I do believe so. For example south Africa is good in wine and
therefore when am buying wines and I know is coming from South
Africa I know am buying something good, irrespective of the price
7 Surely, I do always want to know the country of origin, because that
would determine the quality of the product of course the higher the
quality the higher the price

8 I do buy wine from south Africa also France, perfumes from France and

when its comes to leather industry belts and shoes from Italy

The above transcription clearly shows that a succinct understanding of the general process of
writing a dissertation is very critical. Particularly part A of the interview confirms this.

Research Report 9
Additionally, part B of the interview which covers specific research topic questions reveals a
strong relevance of a product’s country of origin in influencing consumer behaviour.
Reflection on Research Findings and Process
When reflecting on the findings obtained from the interview that was conducted during this
research, it is important to note that there are various issues that can be observed particularly on
the research findings and the entire research process. For instance, a reflection on the interview
that was conducted indicates that interviewing a post graduate student was more appropriate in
making sure that the research respondents and/or participants give effective answers towards the
asked questions. The interview answers also provided insights into the entire process of writing a
dissertation. In addition, interview was also done on the selected research topic showing that the
answers given to the asked questions were relatively appropriate meaning that there was a
relationship between the country of origin and consumer behaviour of the considered research
respondents and/or participants.
Therefore, it important to consider that the interview conducted during thing this research reveals
that all the questions asked by the researcher or interviewee were succinctly answered all at once
and very few follow-up questions were asked due to explicit answers provided to the questions
asked. However, despite the fact that answers to all the questions which were asked are
answered, it is necessary to note that the answers provided can be directly used for analysis in
order to make sure that conclusions can be made from the research findings as a way of ensuring
getting important meaning of the information obtained from the research respondents or
participants during the research.

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A consideration of the research findings in summary indicates that there is a very strong
relationship between the country of origin of a product and consumer behaviour towards it
mainly because consumer behaviour is determined by attitudes and perceptions of consumers
towards the product. Precisely, the findings obtained from this research shows that many
consumers usually consider the country of origin of the respective products as an important
factor prior to making purchasing choices.
According to the research findings the process of product evaluation generally evokes some
associations which are brand-specific stored within the memory of the consumers which end up
contributing to the overall brand image (Williams and Page, 2011). The findings of this research
also reveal that this is a very essential aspect of consumer behaviour mainly because it allows for
differentiation between products which are manufactured in different countries meaning that the
country of origin effects constitute one of the essential aspects of consumer behaviour due to the
fact that their ability for allowing consumers in developing generalizations, perceptions and
attitudes concerning a product’s country of origin, which is a crucial basis of consumer’s
evaluations of products and/or brands (Drozdenko and Jensen, 2009). The research findings
imply that consumers’ micro and macro country images have the potential of significantly
influencing consumer behaviour which means that country or brand image which are often
created based on the associations of country of origin effects with perceived quality of products
made in the same country influence the key brand equity dimensions such as brand loyalty and
brand associations (Shlomo and Jaffe, 1996). According to Koubaa (2008) the moderation of
country of origin image effects on a brand is mostly done by both brand and country reputation.
This is a clear indication that there is a direct relationship between consumer loyalty and/or

Research Report 11
consumer behaviour with a country or product image implying that products from various
countries are in most cases evaluated differently on the basis of the image of their country of
origin from the perspective of consumer’s attitudes and perceptions (Cai, et al. 2004).
Finally, a key reflection of the research findings and the entire research process shows that there
is need to prioritise primary research because it allows collection of original information and/or
data. This means that the obtained information would be very essential to determine how the
final research will be carried out; hence, the findings obtained from the unstructured interview
would form an important basis for a more structured interview and/or study because it provides a
framework for conducting a more robust and bigger study which would be carried out for
research findings which are more valid and reliable. A combination of these reflections indicate
that using a good research design as well as a good research methodology would result to
appropriate findings which could be applied in many situations of contemporary business dues to
their validity and reliability which ensures that they can be replicated to a variety of situations.
Furthermore, consumer behaviour is considered to be highly dependent of the perceptions and
attitudes of the consumers towards certain products and services, and country of origin has been
determined to be one of the important aspects because research findings reaffirms the same.

Research Report 12
Reference List
Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2007), Business Research Methods, 2 nd Edition. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Burns, R. B. (2000), Introduction to Research Methods. London: Sage Publications.
Cai, Y., Cude, B. and Swagler, R. (2004), “Country-of-origin effects on consumers’ willingness
to buy foreign products: an experiment in consumer decision making”, Consumer
Interests Annual, Vol. 50, pp. 98-105.
Denzin, N. and Lincoln, Y. (2005), The SAGE handbook of Qualitative Research London: Sage.
Drozdenko, R. and Jensen, M. (2009), “Translating country-of-origin effects into price” Journal
of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 371 – 378.
Eriksson, P. and Kovalainen, A. (2008), Qualitative Methods in Business Research. London:
Gillham, B. (2005), Research Interviewing: The Range of Technique. Maidenhead: Open
University Press.
Gummesson, E. (1991), Qualitative Methods in Management Research. London: Sage.
Koubaa, Y. (2008), “Country of origin, brand image perception, and brand image structure”,
Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 139-155.
Marschan-Piekarit, R. and Welch, C. (2005), Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods for
International Business. London: Edward Elgar.
Mason, J. (2002), Qualitative Researching. London: Sage Publishers.

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Patton, M. (2002), Qualitative Research and Evaluation Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
Saunders, M et al (2006), Research Methods for Business Students. London: Financial
Times/Prentice Hall.
Silverman, D. (2001), Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analyzing talk, text and
interaction. London: Sage.
Shlomo, L. and Jaffe, E. (1996), “Country of origin effect on international market entry”,
European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 1/2, pp. 61-72.
Silverman, D. (2000), Doing Qualitative Research: A Practical Handbook. London: Sage
Thomson, S. B. (2011), “Sample size and grounded theory”, Journal of Administration and
Governance, Vol.5 No.1, pp. 45-52.
Williams, K. C. and Page, R. A. (2011), “Marketing to generations”, Journal of Behavioral
Studies in Business, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 37-53.

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