In this section the author’s method will be presented. First, the choice of subject will be pre-sented followed by a presentation of the research approach. Since the research is of a quantitative character much effort will be given to explain the structure and design of the questionnaire as well as pretest of it.
Approach method and techniques
The idea for the thesis was founded during the Down to Earth project, which is a project initiated by Jönköping International Business School together with Umbilical Design. The aim of the project is to link space technologies to problems found on earth, by pre-senting how space missions deal with scarce resources. With the insight of the technolo-gy used in space, the project has the objective to deploy these technologies, concepts and ideas in various industries and inspire for new innovations in regard of environmental sustainability. The project has been implemented with various organizations in Sweden, ranging from large corporations to municipalities. The company in question was VCC, which we worked together with during a two day workshop. By combining knowledge from various fields of expertise, the project developed many innovative ideas in regard of environmental sustainability. However, little focus was given to understanding the consumer. What is the attitude toward green products and what are the underlying rea-sons behind it? Those thoughts resulted to our own research that we presented for VCC, who showed a great interest in our research. The thesis has been conducted with super-vision from VCC and they have provided valuable insights into the market of environ-mentally friendly automobiles. The research has VCC’s full approval and they have worked as a collaborative partner for the thesis providing insights into the market of environmentally friendly automobiles. Since little research exists on Chinese environ-mental attitude and no research on Chinese citizens’ attitude towards environmentally friendly cars we find it of great value that this research area should be explored. Im-portant to mention is that our thesis is meant to describe future trends in attitude which aims to predict environmental intentions among Chinese customers.
In the introductory stage of the thesis, an extensive literature review was conducted. In-cluded materials were academic articles, specialist literature, newspaper articles and in-ternet websites within the field of consumer behavior. Due to the fact that the thesis has an apparent focus on how an attitude may influence an individual’s intention, much ef-fort was made to explore prior research in this area. Key words used when searching for relevant literature include: attitude-behavior relationship, environmental concern, eco-logical behavior, environmental sustainability, green marketing, green consumer, atti-tude in china and environment-china. In parallel with the literature review, we had a discussion together with VCC in order to get their opinion about the research. Their thoughts and insights were taken into consideration when formulating the purpose of the thesis. In light of the explored literature, the theories and models that best suited the purpose of the research were chosen. Theories that were selected were also well cited and have acquired recognition in the academic context, which is vital in order to ensure the reliability of the research.
In order to fruitfully answer our research questions, we have chosen to use a causal re-search approach, which is a type of conclusive research where the major objective is to obtain evidence regarding cause-and effect relationships (Malholtra, 2004). Causality is defined by (Malhotra, 2004, p. 204) as “when the occurrence of X increases the probabil-ity of the occurrence of Y”. However, it is important to bear in mind that a research pro-ject may serve many different purposes. Thus, it is not always distinct what research method to use, which stresses attention to grasp the nature of a specific problem. Our research revolves around what factors that influence individuals’ intentions and to ex-amine the relationship between them. In line with the aim of the thesis our causal re-search approach is well chosen according to Malholtra and Birks (2007) who argues that a causal research approach is appropriate for determining the nature of the relationship between the causal variables and the dependent variable.
Since our thesis aims to explain the underlying elements of environmental attitude and the connection to ecological intentions we consider our research approach very well suited to our research. The chosen environmental attitude model that we intend to use originate from Kaiser et al (1999), which is a modification of the well used theory of rea-soned action designed by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975; 1980). The model will test the cor-relation between intentions to buy environmentally friendly automobiles and three un-derlying factors that constitute an individual’s attitude toward the environment. These factors are; responsibility feelings, environmental knowledge and environmental values. Even though the theory of reasoned action has been revised, it still serves as a funda-mental theory for research conducted in the area of predicting behaviors, especially in the field of green consumption. The theory has received great support and recognition since it was published in the 1980’s. Our chosen model is not yet as recognized as the original model, even though it has been the subject of significant tests and has proven to provide a conceptual model to predict ecological intentions. We find it very well suitable for our purpose.
Construct of Survey
To be able to retrieve as interesting and relevant data as possible we chose to collect primary data. This allows us to gather information for the single purpose of this re-search. In order to determine and analyze attitude among people a quantitative ap-proach was chosen because of the creation of important segmentation that can be used by VCC. Quantitative research approach allows measurements of usage and attitude in a very functional way which is most helpful in our research which centers on the envi-ronmental attitude concept (Bradley, 2010). Since we have chosen to use a quantitative approach an obvious research tool for our study would be a questionnaire. As our re-search is concerned with the attitude concept, the role of the questionnaire will be to provide a standardized format where the questions will be formulated in the same way to different people. Through this medium we can ask questions to the research subjects about factors relating to attitude and thereby facilitate the data collection (Brace, 2004).
The questionnaire is designed and performed in a way that will facilitate the collection of unbiased and accurate data. To ensure a high quality in our thesis we have decided to use a self-completion internet based survey which allowed us to avoid the possibility of the interviewer biasing the results. This presents several advantages because the re-spondents can answer the survey when they want and where they want. The method is also proven to remove the social desirability bias since there is no interviewer at the lo-cation (Brace, 2004). We believe that measuring environmental behavior may make re-spondents more susceptible to the social desirability bias and by using an electronic self-completion method we minimize the chance of that phenomenon. The choice of using an electronic self-completion survey was also based on the fact that it is relatively cheap, convenient and fast compared to other mediums (Malhotra and Birks, 2007).
When designing a questionnaire it is important to assure that the questions are inter-preted alike regardless of the respondent. The first draft of questionnaires tends to be too long and contain unclear, ambiguous questions. The objective of the questionnaire pretest is to eliminate those problems by identifying and correct the deficiencies (Aaker, Kumar, Day and Leone, 2011). Due to the fact that we are conducting our research on Chinese students who do not have English as their mother tongue language, it is increas-ingly important to eliminate language barriers and make the questionnaire more under-standable by conducting a pretest.
When we conducted the pretests we tried to be as open minded as possible in order to accept the received critique. As Aaker et al (2011) suggest a rather small sample size is necessary for a pretest, especially when the questionnaire is short and straightforward, which we consider ours to be. Thus, we conducted our pretest on 15 people that repre-sented our sample population, with respect to age and sex to receive a good overview of our pretest. When we conducted the pretest, we used a debriefing approach, which is a form of a personal interview pretest Aaker et al (2011). As proposed by the debriefing approach we let the respondent fill in the questionnaire without assistance. However, during the whole time we observed the respondents in order to detect confusion and al-so to time each section of questions. None of them should be too long in order to maintain the respondent’s attention. We set a maximum duration of 10 minutes of the ques-tionnaire, none of the respondents in the pretest needed more time than the maximum duration. When the respondent had completed the questionnaire we went through all questions together and asked them about structure, phrasing, layout and whether any questions were misleading. This process was repeated with five respondents, all opin-ions were then considered and the questionnaire was revised accordingly. The first group of respondents expressed opinions about the language, some words appeared to be seen as difficult and not understood. These words were then changed to more simple words to increase ease of understanding. The same procedure was conducted two addi-tional times until the test subjects found no misunderstandings in the questionnaire. When all opinions had been taken into account, we returned to the first step of the de-sign process. Each question was reviewed and discussed in order to validate its place in the questionnaire. When all the steps were completed in the pretest, the purpose of it was fulfilled, to ensure that the questionnaire meets the researcher’s objective of the questionnaire (Aaker et al, 2011).
Design of the Questionnaire
Our questionnaire is introduced with a text describing the purpose of the research and the time it will take to complete it. To make the respondents feel comfortable taking the questionnaire we also guaranteed total anonymity. We wanted to inform about these is-sues in the beginning to increase the response rate and to give the respondents an idea what kind of time and effort engagement they committed to.
When writing the questionnaire we constructed it with the goal to make it as easy as possible to understand and that the respondents should feel as comfortable as possible answering it. When distributing the questionnaire to Chinese students it is important for us to make the questions clear and unambiguous to increase the ease of answering and understanding it. This is the prominent reason why we chose to pretest the question-naire on three different groups before distribution. Moreover, when creating the ques-tionnaire we designed it scientifically correct in line with the advices given by Malhotra and Birks (2007) where they promoted to avoid questions which the respondents can-not answer, are leading or double barreled. Furthermore, an attractive and clear ques-tionnaire induces the respondent to answer it and thereby increasing response rate (Brace, 2004).
In our questionnaire we made use of attitude rating scales in form of a likert scale to ad-dress respondent’s attitude dimensions. We used 5 numbers of points on the scale since it gives adequate discrimination and is simple to understand (Brace, 2004). It may be argued that a 7-point scale is better because it can induce more variance in the results. However, the five point scale was used by the researchers that our own model is based on. By using the same rating scale our questionnaire can be considered well founded since it has followed the design of a fine conducted research, which also has the same nature of problem and purpose as we have. Thus, we considered it important to use the same rating scale in order to reassure the credibility of our own research. This choice was also reinforced by our pretest which showed that most Chinese respondents pre-ferred a 5-point scale. We designed the questionnaire with structured questions and the force-response application which required the respondents to answer all questions in a battery in order to proceed. We did this to facilitate coding and analysis of the respons-es. The questionnaire denied the respondents headlines to the three batteries of ques-tions to ensure they did not adjust their answers.
Finally, when designing the layout we tried to select the more interesting questions in the beginning and the more formal and uninteresting questions in the end of the ques-tionnaire to increase response rate and stimulate the respondents performance, as sug-gested by Malhotra and Birks (2007). In line with this advice we divided the question-naire into 6 different blocks of questions where we started with the more interesting questions and ending with less stimulating questions. Questions about the respondent’s backgrounds were considered as less interesting and therefore placed in the last block while questions concerning their knowledge and responsibility feelings were positioned in the beginning.
Our questions were based on already tested and well proven research by Kaiser et al (1999). However, in order to adapt the questionnaire to meet our specific purpose we improved the questions both in its content and the way the questions were phrased. The questions were constructed to grasp the respondents’ true feelings about the examined factors. To succeed with this significant work was done to ensure that the questions were understood and were measuring what they were intended to measure.
In the responsibility feelings battery, the questions were designed in order to capture the respondents’ moral dimension by using multiple questions measuring individuals’ responsibility feelings. In order to measure individuals’ moral dimensions we tried to ask questions that forced the respondents to take a stand about what is wrong and what is right related to the environment. By doing this with help from a likert scale we could get an indication about the responsibility feelings of the respondents.
The questions concerning environmental values were constructed to justly examine the respondents’ true values concerning the environment. Since values in general can be a sensitive matter it adds to the difficulty of the measurement. To avoid a low response rate and sensitive implications on this section we formulated rather simple questions that covered a wide spectrum of the individuals’ environmental values. For example, re-garding individuals values about companies interaction with the environment, we measured what our respondents think about companies that exploit environmental re-sources for short term profits. This means that an individual can easily take a position when it comes to environmental values in this matter. It may be argued that our questions are general in the sense that all respondents will agree upon this kind of state-ments. However, we believe that the questions are motivated to use since western coun-tries values are not a certainty to be universal across the globe, China in particular, where values are different from the western world.
The third battery of questions concerning environmental knowledge included eight questions which is more than in the previous batteries of questions. The reasoning be-hind this is that knowledge requires more questions in order to get a general estimate about what a person knows and does not know about the environment. It may be argued that it is difficult to measure knowledge by using a likert scale because the scale does not fully separate a correct answer from an incorrect answer. Since the scale points allow the respondent to be partly correct and partly incorrect it does not give the full picture of a respondent’s knowledge. But measuring factual knowledge on a scale give us a gen-eral indication what an individual knows about the environment and it give us a better measure of knowledge as a part of an individual’s attitude.
The final battery of questions related to our environmental model treated the aspect of our respondents’ intentions. We wanted to examine to what degree the respondents were willing to purchase an environmentally friendly automobile. In doing this we for-mulated questions where the respondents had to indicate to what extent they would be willing to give up certain attributes that a regular fuel driven car would possess in order to purchase an environmentally friendly automobile. In this manner the questions pro-vides us with a comprehensive overview of the respondents’ intentions.
In our questionnaire we also included questions that were more specifically related to VCC and the automobile industry. These questions were included because of the im-portance to collect some general information concerning the attitude respondents had related to VCC. Furthermore, the questions can give insights and provide recommenda-tions for VCC how to best seize the opportunity to become the market leader of envi-ronmentally friendly automobiles. The questions will indicate VCC’s current competitors on that market and what attributes are associated to VCC in the minds of potential con-sumers. See appendix A for the full questionnaire.
Research Data Collection
We managed to send out our questionnaire to all Chinese students studying at the Uni-versity of Jönköping which amounted to 92 students. We received a very high response rate of 65% which is considered very well for a web-based survey. Furthermore, the population represents young Chinese students very well since they come from different parts of China. We chose to target Chinese students because they will become the future purchasing power in the country and therefore represent a very important group. How-ever, our original idea was to conduct our research directly on the Chinese market tar-geting Chinese students studying at a partner university to Jönköping International
Business School. The Chinese university was located in Shanghai and named Jiao Tong University. Through a professor at our University we were able to establish contact with another Chinese professor at that university. However, due to authorization require-ments at the Chinese university we were unable to send out our questionnaire as first intended. Therefore, we proceeded our investigation on Chinese students studying at the University of Jönköping. We located the names of all the Chinese students, both full-program and exchange via our international office. Afterwards, we sent out the ques-tionnaire via E-mail containing a link to the web-based questionnaire.
The best possible solution to get the most accurate result to explain our research ques-tions would be to carry out our research on Chinese students studying in various loca-tions in China. This would further improve the generalizability of our study and better represent the population of China. According to Hair, Andersson, Tatham and Black (1992) it is wise to have 4-5 cases for each variable. Since we have 24 variables coming from four batteries of questions concerning responsibility feelings, environmental val-ues, environmental knowledge and intentions (see appendix A) this means that the op-timal sample size would preferably be at least 120 (24*5=120 ) in order to conduct an accurate factor analysis. Furthermore, to increase the response rate and increase the awareness of the questionnaire the optimal solution would mean to be present at all the locations where the questionnaire is distributed in order to market it in a sufficient way. However, several implications restrained us from reaching the optimal sample.
First, since the students from China studies at a Swedish university it may affect their knowledge about Swedish companies operating on the Swedish market. Since we are working together with VCC which is Sweden’s largest car manufacturer it is very likely that the Chinese students have been exposed to the company through commercials or other marketing communications. However, we do not believe that this exposure will have a negative effect on our research since VCC is a global company that already oper-ates on the Chinese market and is very well recognized.
Second, many of the exchange students have spent more than a few months living in Sweden when answering the questionnaire. It can be argued that this may affect their way of thinking when completing the questionnaire because of their knowledge about Swedish culture and values. While this may be true we still believe that our sample still represents young Chinese students since it is well known that Chinese individuals’ have a tendency to uphold their cultural values.
Third, since our questionnaire originally was supposed to be sent out to over 1000 stu-dents in a university in China but now only was sent out to 92 Chinese students studying in Sweden it could be argued that it decreases the ability to generalize the results of the research. This is scientifically true according to Malhotra (2004), however, we still have a large enough sample to make assumptions, interpret indications and make conclu-sions. Our original intention were to send out the survey to a university in Shanghai but now when we changed sample we have a better coverage of the Chinese populations since many of the students in our university comes from parts all over China. Further-more, since we sent out the questionnaire to students studying at a Swedish university it was much easier to influence the response rate. This allowed us to send out reminders to the Chinese students regarding the survey which may not have been approved in Chi-na. According to Malhotra (2007) it is difficult to achieve a high response rate with a web-based questionnaire. We managed to reach a response rate of 65% which consider-ing the circumstance is high.
Table of Contents
1.1 Volvo Car Corporation and Green Consumer Trends
1.3 Research Questions
2 Theoretical framework
2.1 Chinese market
2.2 Green Marketing
2.4 The proposed model
2.5 Proposed Hypotheses
3.1 Approach method and techniques
3.2 Research Approach
3.3 Construct of Survey
3.5 Design of the Questionnaire
3.6 Research Data Collection
3.7 Data Quality
3.8 Statistical Methods used in the Analysis
4.1 The sample
4.2 Environmental car ranking
4.3 Attribute Ranking
4.4 Attitude Variables
4.5 Factor Analysis
4.6 Cronbach’s Alpha test
4.7 Regression Analysis
5 Analysis and Discussion
5.1 Responsibility feelings
5.2 Environmental Knowledge
5.3 Environmental Values
5.4 Concluding analysis
6.1 Criticism against our research
6.2 Future Research
7 Practical Implications for Volvo
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Environmental attitudes and how they affect purchase intentions of environmentally friendly automobiles An empirical study on Chinese students at Jönköping University