This study investigates the acculturation and consumer complaint behaviours (CCB) of East-Asian students at Northumbria University, located in North-East England. Approximately 70,000 East-Asians are currently enrolled for graduate study in the UK. However, little is known about their adaptation to an unfamiliar culture, and their complaint behaviours when placed in such an environment. In particular, there is a need to understand the complaint behaviours of East-Asian students in the context of Higher Education. For both acculturation and CCB a literature survey included the key theoretical frameworks and variables that can impact upon both concepts, leading to the development of four research questions that provided the focus for the data collection process. The first research question investigated if a relationship exists between the acculturation style adopted by East-Asian students and their complaint behaviours. From here, the additional research questions focused on respondent's acculturation and CCB experiences throughout their sojourn. The study utilised a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods to ensure all research questions were addressed. Initially, an online survey was administered, followed by a number of semi-structured interviews with a sample of survey respondents. Survey results suggest only weak correlations between acculturation styles and complaint behaviours: those who integrate into UK culture show a higher propensity to publicly complain (e.g. write to lecturers), whilst those who separate themselves from other cultures are more likely to do nothing in response to dissatisfactory experiences. A general willingness to publicly voice concerns over university performance is moderated by fears that complaints may compromise final degree classifications. In terms of cultural adaptation, the greatest challenges faced were functional in nature (e.g. opening bank accounts), and respondents reported a lack of interaction with local students which limited opportunities to improve their English language ability. This study advances the understanding of the East-Asian student experience, is the first to consider if acculturation is a relevant variable in the complaint behaviour process and also draws attention to the importance of student complaints as a major issue in student retention.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 24 Mar 2009|