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Rating versus ranking: What is the best way to reduce response and language bias in cross-national research?


Author Info

  • Harzing, Anne-Wil
  • Baldueza, Joyce
  • Barner-Rasmussen, Wilhelm
  • Barzantny, Cordula
  • Canabal, Anne
  • Davila, Anabella
  • Espejo, Alvaro
  • Ferreira, Rita
  • Giroud, Axele
  • Koester, Kathrin
  • Liang, Yung-Kuei
  • Mockaitis, Audra
  • Morley, Michael J.
  • Myloni, Barbara
  • Odusanya, Joseph O.T.
  • O'Sullivan, Sharon Leiba
  • Palaniappan, Ananda Kumar
  • Prochno, Paulo
  • Choudhury, Srabani Roy
  • Saka-Helmhout, Ayse
  • Siengthai, Sununta
  • Viswat, Linda
  • Soydas, Ayda Uzuncarsili
  • Zander, Lena


We propose solutions to two recurring problems in cross-national research: response style differences and language bias. In order to do so, we conduct a methodological comparison of two different response formats--rating and ranking. For rating, we assess the effect of changing the commonly used 5-point Likert scales to 7-point Likert scales. For ranking, we evaluate the validity of presenting respondents with short scenarios for which they need to rank their top 3 solutions. Our results - based on two studies of 1965 undergraduate and 1714 MBA students in 16 different countries - confirm our hypotheses that both solutions reduce response and language bias, but show that ranking generally is a superior solution. These findings allow researchers to have greater confidence in the validity of cross-national differences if these response formats are used, instead of the more traditional 5-point Likert scales. In addition, our findings have several practical implications for multinational corporations, relating to issues such as selection interviews, performance appraisals, and cross-cultural training.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal International Business Review.

Volume (Year): 18 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (August)
Pages: 417-432

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Handle: RePEc:eee:iburev:v:18:y:2009:i:4:p:417-432

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Keywords: Cross-national research Research methods Response style differences Language bias Survey research;


References listed on IDEAS
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  1. Hal B Gregersen & Julie M Hite & J Stewart Black, 1996. "Expatriate Performance Appraisal in U.S. Multinational Firms," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 27(4), pages 711-738, December.
  2. Tomasz Lenartowicz & Kendall Roth, 2001. "Does Subculture Within a Country Matter? A Cross-Cultural Study of Motivational Domains and Business Performance in Brazil," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 32(2), pages 305-325, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Emad ABU-SHANAB & Khalil Md NOR, 2013. "The Influence Of Language On Research Results," Management Research and Practice, Research Centre in Public Administration and Public Services, Bucharest, Romania, vol. 5(4), pages 37-48, December.
  2. Alexander Becker & Thomas Widjaja & Peter Buxmann, 2011. "Value Potentials and Challenges of Service-Oriented Architectures," Business & Information Systems Engineering, Springer, vol. 3(4), pages 199-210, August.
  3. Fabian Froese, 2013. "Work values of the next generation of business leaders in Shanghai, Tokyo, and Seoul," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 30(1), pages 297-315, March.
  4. Hoffmann, Stefan & Mai, Robert & Cristescu, Anamaria, 2013. "Do culture-dependent response styles distort substantial relationships?," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(5), pages 814-827.
  5. Harzing, Anne-Wil & Pudelko, Markus, 2013. "Language competencies, policies and practices in multinational corporations: A comprehensive review and comparison of Anglophone, Asian, Continental European and Nordic MNCs," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 87-97.


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