The role of cultural sensitivity and trust in relational marketing: an analysis of buyer/seller relationships in the Asian Pacific Rim

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Virginia Tech

This study's primary goal was to specify what cultural sensitivity is and delineate the process of its formation. In addition, the role that cultural sensitivity plays within the international buying process was probed. Accordingly, antecedents and consequences of cultural sensitivity are specified.

Overall, this study empirically examines buyer/seller interactions within the Asian Pacific Rim. Based on multiple in-depth interviews of key informants, salient strategic domains emerged and are delineated within a Grounded Theory model.

Within the early analysis phases, trust emerged as a salient domain and a consequence of cultural sensitivity. This study examines the structure of trust as well as its role within the international buying process.

Four structural dimensions of cultural sensitivity emerged: (1) cultural declarative knowledge, (2) etic (outsiders') procedural knowledge, (3) emic (insiders') procedural knowledge, and (4) environmental scanning. In addition, the process of cultural sensitivity was found to have the following four stages: (1) The Honeymooner; (2) The Worker; (3) The Outsider; and (4) The Transspector. Each stage was shown to vary in terms of four structural dimensions. In addition, culture shock is explained within this model.

A new conceptualization of trust emerged with the four following dimensions: (1) integrity trust, (2) caring trust, (3) benevolence trust, and (4) reliability trust. Of key importance, shared frames of meaning emerged as a new dyadic construct with the following two dimensions: (1) shared declarative frames, and (2) shared procedural frames. Finally, an overall model is introduced with antecedents, and consequences of these three focal domains: cultural sensitivity, trust, and shared frames of meaning.