Title: The influence of culture on the assessment of the importance of decision attributes; Germany versus the Netherlands

Authors: Hans Heerkens, Christoph Koster, Jan Ulijn

Addresses: University of Twente, Ravelijn 3119, P.O. Box 217, 7500 AE, Enschede, Netherlands. ' HSH Nordbank AG, Martendamm 6, 24103 Kiel, Germany. ' Faculty of Technology Management, University of Eindhoven, Kennispoort 5.18, P.O. Box 513, 5600 AS Eindhoven, Netherlands

Abstract: We investigate whether cultural differences between Dutch and German individual actors lead to different ways of assessing the importance of decision attributes (which may or may not lead to different attribute weights). During think-aloud sessions, German and Dutch students performed an importance assessment task: establishing the weights of the attributes |safety| and |passenger comfort| for a company in the process of buying a fleet of minibuses. A model for analysing the importance assessment process; the weight assessment model or WAM, was used to identify similarities and differences between Germans and Dutch. The unexpected conclusion was that the Dutch showed more attention to detail than the Germans (who were less |grundlich|), but that the German were not sloppier but more efficient. Germans needed less effort to fulfil the assignment. The working rules (heuristics) used by the Germans differed from those used by the Dutch, despite the close proximity of the two populations and the possible influence of European integration. Suggestions are drawn up for German and Dutch actors involved in decision processes having to assess the importance of attributes together.

Keywords: importance assessment; decision making; German-Dutch cultural differences; working rules; Germany; Netherlands; decision attributes; safety; passenger comfort; minibus fleet purchasing; minibuses; modelling; attention to detail; efficiency.

DOI: 10.1504/EJCCM.2010.037641

European Journal of Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, 2010 Vol.1 No.4, pp.334 - 355

Published online: 20 Dec 2010 *

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