The country-of-origin effect (COO) has, as a research domain, suffered from several theoretical and methodological problems and tendencies including an incomplete conceptualization of its constituent components. The purpose of this study is to first problematize the concept in extant literature and to consequently propose a reconceptualization of the concept.
As part of lateral promulgation, the authors use theoretical and methodological ideas from other disciplines such as psychology, ethnography and geography to problematize the present conceptualization of COO in extant literature to reveal research possibilities relevant to, but underrepresented or absent in, COO research.
This study identifies several central theoretical and methodological problems and reveals that (1) COO is not necessarily linear and alternative modes of engagement with consumption need to be considered; (2) many of these problems can be addressed by alternative methodologies; and (3) COO operates at the level of symbolic orders that require a further engagement with the role of place in human experience.
The findings suggest that in future research, field experiments be considered to resolve some of the methodological artefacts that have hampered past research; qualitative methods be applied to uncover unexpected uses of place association beyond being mere quality proxies; and alternative areas of relevance, such as macro-level trade and exports from emerging economies, be entertained.
The study’s approach to problematizing and refining extant knowledge enable it to promulgate new knowledge and research directions for a research area that has historically suffered from a tendency to be self-referential.
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