Professor Michelle Steward Honored for International Marketing Research

1.30.2011 Faculty News, General, News Release

WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Michelle Steward, Associate Professor of Marketing at the Wake Forest University Schools of Business, along with her co-authors of “Exploring Cross-National Differences in Organizational Buyers’ Normative Expectations and Supplier Performance,” have earned the S. Tamer Cavusgil Award for their paper published March 1, 2010 in the Journal of International Marketing.  Co-authors of the award-winning paper are Felicia N. Morgan, Lawrence A. Crosby and Ajith Kumar.
Each year since 1988, the editorial board of the Journal of International Marketing has honored the author(s) of one of the articles published in the journal with the S. Tamer Cavusgil Award for making the most significant contribution to the advancement of the practice of international marketing management.  The award is named in honor of Professor S. Tamer Cavusgil, Fuller E. Callaway Professorial Chair and Director of the Institute of International Business at Georgia State University.  Winners receive a cash award and plaque during the American Marketing Association’s Winter Educators’ Conference.
“My co-authors and I are delighted to receive the S. Tamer Cavusgil award. Our article was the outcome of the recognition of a real business problem—that differences in what customers expect, at a fundamental level, may mean that different standards of evaluation for what is believed appropriate may result,” said Steward.  “This has significant impact for multinational suppliers who assess their performance across nations. Winning the S. Tamer Cavusgil Award underscores the importance of this topic in our field.”
The article was the first to establish empirically that, despite forces of globalization, there are actual differences in the normative expectations of supplier performance across countries. These normative expectations involve what buyers believe should be standards, regardless of the industry, the supplier, or the particular salesperson.
“This honor confirms the high impact of the research being done by our outstanding teacher-scholars.” said Charles Iacovou, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty for the Wake Forest Schools of Business.  “Congratulations to Michelle and her co-authors on receiving this prestigious award.”   
Steward and her co-authors introduced a diagnostic tool that managers in an international context can use to determine if normative expectations do differ in the countries in which they operate. The implications highlight the trade-off between providing standardized service across nations and customizing service based on normative expectations. Given the conflict over this issue of standardization, they suggest when in doubt, measure normative expectations and determine whether differences to exist.
In the course of their research, Steward and her co-authors analyzed data collected across four countries (the United States, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom) from senior purchasing managers. They found that there are indeed significant differences in what the senior purchasing managers across countries expect in general from suppliers. In a second study reported in the article, they demonstrated that if these differences are not accounted for, then satisfaction scores (which are based on expectations) could be misinterpreted.