Date of Award

1-1-1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Business

Faculty

Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Associate Professor Dieter Fink

Second Advisor

Dr. Peter Standen

Third Advisor

Ms Iris Vardi

Abstract

The study compared the perceptions of Malaysians, representing Asian culture, and Australians, representing Western culture, for four Web design characteristics (atmospherics, news stories, signs, products and services), as part of the Integrated Internet Marketing model. Under controlled laboratory conditions, two groupings of thirty subjects evaluated eight Web sites in the retail and services sectors located equally in Malaysia and Australia. This study hypothesised that the predominant culture would not be generalised to another culture. Significant differences found for Web design characteristics were typically for one site only and not across all sites. In other words, consistent differences did not eventuate. This appears to indicate that members of both groups are citizens of the Web's global village in which consumer behaviours and values are converging. There were some specific perceptual differences between Australians and Malaysians of Web design characteristics and their impact on the overall effectiveness of Web sites. For example, differences for the Web design characteristic products and services were clearly perceived for Dewsons Supermarket (DS) and Netcard Station (NS). The graphical presentation on the DS Web site appears to encourage Australians to examine the products and services in more depth. Products were presented in bright colours and photographic views. On the other hand, for the NS Web site, products were represented in descriptive, technical words, which appealed more to Malaysians. The study found that Malaysians would emphasize the atmospherics for seeking to obtain an indication of integration (tolerance, non-competitiveness) by examining virtual presence. Australians give emphasis to articulate news stories as both products and services and news stories attracted inter-group significant differences in Café St. Tropez Restaurant and Netcard Station sites. For the extent to which the Web is used to locate products, services or information, there was no impact of these on the way Malaysians perceived the Web design characteristics and their impact on the overall effectiveness of Web sites. On the other hand, the extent to which the Web was used to locate products, services or information impacted on the way Australians perceived the Web design characteristics and the impact of these on the overall effectiveness of Web sites. The study makes recommendations for Australian Web designers, for example, that they should give emphasis to graphical and photographic pictures for attracting Australian Web users. On the other hand, Malaysians Web designers should, for example, employ technical words in order to attract Malaysian Web users. The study recognises the strength and the limitations of the controlled laboratory method of research, which are in the main that results cannot easily be generalised and that procedures may appear to be artificial. Suggestions for further study are offered.

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