Bringing culture into the picture: cross-cultural differences in online customer reviews

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Purpose: Prior literature on online customer reviews (OCRs) suggests that individuals are socially influenced by information shared by others. Given that the online environment brings together users from different cultures, understanding how users differ in their processing and generation of OCRs across cultures is imperative. Specifically, this paper explores how cross-cultural differences influence OCR generation when there are inconsistencies between recent and overall review ratings. Design/methodology/approach: The authors employ an empirical study and an experimental approach to test the predictions. For the empirical study (Study 1), the authors collected and analyzed actual review data from an online hotel review platform, Booking.com. This was followed by an experimental study (Study 2) in which the authors manipulated the thinking style represented by each cultural orientation to further explain how and why cross-cultural differences exist. Findings: The results show that compared with the review ratings of users from collectivist cultures, those of users from individualistic cultures are more likely to follow recent review ratings. Based on the experimental study, the authors further find that such cross-cultural differences in OCR generation are driven by differences in thinking style. Originality/value: This research extends the literature by demonstrating the cross-cultural differences in individuals' herding tendencies in OCR generation. The authors also add to the literature by showing in which direction OCR herding occurs when there is a discrepancy between overall and recent review ratings. From a managerial perspective, the findings provide guidelines for online platforms serving the global market on predicting customers' OCR generation and constructing appropriate response strategies.

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International Marketing Review

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