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A consumer cultural paradox: exploring the tensions between traditional and international education

Ivana Beveridge (University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Olivier Furrer (Department of Management, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland)
Betsy D. Gelb (University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 25 March 2022

Issue publication date: 4 August 2022




In a globalized world, consumers embrace mutually conflicting cultural values rather than making exclusive, either/or choices. As a result, they experience multiple tensions, a phenomenon that can be identified as the consumer cultural paradox. Despite clear interest in the influence of local/global culture on consumers, knowledge of how conflicting cultural elements shape consumer behavior remains limited. To address these issues, the current article seeks to identify higher- and lower-level tensions inherent in the consumer cultural paradox.


Using in-depth interviews, the authors investigate tensions experienced by Chinese consumers of international private education services. This study applies a paradox lens, a tension-based conceptual approach that is well suited for studying consumer paradoxes.


Ten lower-level tensions of the consumer cultural paradox arise in the focal international service context; these tensions in turn form three higher-level tensions.


The study is among the first in marketing to use a paradox lens and empirical research to delineate multiple dimensions of the consumer cultural paradox, then categorize them into lower and higher-level tensions. The findings offer theoretical and managerial implications, in that recognizing the multiple tensions experienced by consumers allows scholars and marketers to gain a better understanding of how consumers perceive and evaluate services from different cultures.



Beveridge, I., Furrer, O. and Gelb, B.D. (2022), "A consumer cultural paradox: exploring the tensions between traditional and international education", International Marketing Review, Vol. 39 No. 4, pp. 811-835.



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