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Employing information communication technologies to enhance qualitative international marketing enquiry

Sharon Loane (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, UK)
Jim Bell (University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, UK)
Rod McNaughton (University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Canada)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 1 July 2006



Extant international marketing enquiry has been widely criticised for lacking scope and ambition. Typically, empirical investigations have involved single market studies employing quantitative methods and survey techniques. Consequently, researchers have been challenged to embrace greater methodological pluralism and broaden their geographical perspectives. This contribution posits that new information communication technologies (ICT), particularly the internet, can significantly improve the robustness of qualitative and mixed‐method international marketing research.


The paper describes and evaluates the application of ICT in a recent cross‐national enquiry into rapidly internationalising small firms. Online sources were used to gather information on 218 internationalising small firms, in Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand. An e‐mail instrument was then administered to verify this data and address information gaps, resulting in 143 usable responses, evenly distributed across locations. Key emerging themes were identified and a representative sub‐sample of 53 firms was selected for further in‐depth investigation via face‐to‐face interviews with CEOs.


The authors contend that such technologies can help to refine sample identification and selection procedures, improve response rates and encourage greater respondent “buy‐in” to depth interviews. They also lead to much more targeted lines of enquiry during depth interviews by identifying key research themes and issues, thus enhancing the depth and richness of the insights obtained.


The paper concludes that novel ICT‐enabled research approaches as described herein are particularly effective because, compared to conventional survey methods, they are more user friendly and better received by subjects.



Loane, S., Bell, J. and McNaughton, R. (2006), "Employing information communication technologies to enhance qualitative international marketing enquiry", International Marketing Review, Vol. 23 No. 4, pp. 438-455.



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