Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics

The relationship between attitude and behavior: an empirical study in China
Jianyao Li Dick Mizerski Alvin Lee Fang Liu

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Canada..2 232 Received January 2008 Revised August 2008 Accepted October 2008 The relationship between attitude and behavior: an empirical study in China Jianyao Li. There is no doubt that China is one of the largest markets for offshore Alvin Lee and Fang Liu UWA Business School. 2003). For example. 21 No. Consumer behaviour Paper type Research paper Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics Vol. The Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) is used as a framework to understand the intentions of the Chinese subjects concerning their enrollment in an offshore program. Country of origin.htm Downloaded by COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY At 02:42 17 February 2016 (PT) APJML 21. The University of Western Australia. just behind personal travel and transportation services (Australian Education International. Practical implications – The findings of this study can help foreign education institutions develop a good understanding of the education market in China. Offshore programs have become increasingly popular in countries that are experiencing rapid economic growth and are experiencing a dramatic increase in demand for higher education. 2009 pp. China. Originality/value – This study is one of the few studies that have adopted the TPB. Dick Mizerski. .The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at www. Australia Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of attitude towards behavior. Findings – Results show that a subject’s attitude towards behavior. However. results also indicate that the significance of the three components on enrollment intention is contingent on which country the offshore program is from. international education has become the third largest service export sector in Australia. UK and Australia (1989). 2004). Students. An international education program includes onshore and offshore programs. Keywords Higher education. to name just a few. Design/methodology/approach – This study adopts a 3 (country-of-origin) by 2 (location) betweengroup factorial design. subject norm and perceived behavioral control (PBC) on a Chinese subject’s evaluation of a tertiary education program. Understanding how students select an offshore program is important for competing and surviving in the market place (Moogan et al. 2. are offering their offshore programs ranging from the professional diploma level to higher degrees such as MA. 232-242 # Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1355-5855 DOI 10. MBA and PhD. it is very important that foreign higher education providers understand how potential Chinese consumers evaluate different kinds of offshore program and what factors influence their decisions.1108/13555850910950059 Introduction International education is a growing export industry for many industrialized countries such as the USA. Crawley. From 1995. Offshore programs refer to programs offered by foreign institutions in which students can study in their home countries. the widely used psychology theory. institutions from the USA. the Chinese government has opened its education market to foreign providers in order to meet the country’s demand for higher education (Huang. in the Chinese context. 1999). Currently. Onshore programs refer to programs in which students need to study in foreign countries.emeraldinsight. subject norm and PBC had a significantly positive relationship with the subjects’ enrollment intentions irrespective of the country-oforigin (COO) of an education program. Under this circumstance. However. UK and Australia. the offshore program market in China has become increasingly competitive.

1995) have found that the SN component of the TPB is inadequate and rarely predicts intention. but it is very expensive so he has to turn to his parents. social pressures. This study will also examine the effect of three components of the TPB on enrollment intention towards offshore programs from different countries. This study will particularly look at the subject norm construct underneath TPB and try to examine whether other people’s perceptions of an individual’s behavior will have a strong influence on this consumer’s decision-making in a society with a strong collectivist orientation like China. influence enrollment choices (Ray. parents. 1995). However. 2001. 1998). was often criticized because it assumes that all human behaviors are volitional and rational (Chang. 1988). 2004). For example.Downloaded by COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY At 02:42 17 February 2016 (PT) There has been a wealth of literature on students’ enrollment in onshore programs (Dembowski. a number of researchers (Sparks et al. However. when a student chooses an offshore program in his home country. 1998). in other words. Dalgety and Coll. studies on potential students’ intentions of enrolling in an offshore program without leaving their home countries are hard to find. some factors may prevent him from making a rational decision. an individual has full control over his or her behavior.. 1981. 1999. The TRA. 2004). Baharun et al. It is an attitude which has been conceptualized from the evaluation of the behavior. This study attempts to examine Chinese students’ enrollment intentions towards offshore programs from Australia. Taylor and Todd. 1980). In this study. Coccari and Javalgi.. He may like Program A.. which consists of only the attitudinal and normative components. such as peers. In regard to enrollment intention. his parents have more controlling power than him. A Chinese student’s attitude toward enrolling in an offshore program has a positive relationship with his or her enrolment intention in this program. Ajzen (1985) extended roots from the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) and hypothesized three components underneath a person’s behavioral intentions. This is a person’s belief that the salient referent thinks he or she should (or should not) perform the behavior (Chang. in this case. Butler. 1991. 1992. at a certain level. 1992. Subjective norm (SN) refers to the social pressure an individual has on whether to complete behavior or not. However. 1995. Thus it is hypothesized that: H1. Chapman. the UK and the USA by adopting Ajzen’s Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB). teachers and relatives.. not all behaviors are fully volitional or fully controlled by consumers due to various factors (Sheppard et al. Literature review The TPB has been widely adopted as one of the most powerful tools to test consumers’ behavioral intention (Ajzen. Attitude towards behavior is a function of one’s salient belief (B) about performing the behavior and an evaluation of the outcomes resulting from the behavior (E) (Chang. Many studies have confirmed that the TPB predicts behavior intention more accurately than the TRA (Madden et al. 1999) also Relationship between attitude and behavior 233 . some researchers (Dawson and O’Connor. According to TPB. Koballa. 1980. AtB is specified as the attitude toward enrolling in an offshore program in China.. 2001). A number of studies revealed that. Crawley and Black. attitude towards the behavior (AtB) is referred to the positive or negative feelings an individual has on a particular behavior (Ajzen and Fishbein. He adopted two components from the TRA: an attitudinal component and a normative component. 1991. 1998). This is why the TPB adds a third component called perceived behavioral control (PBC) (Hansen et al. 1998). Broekemier and Seshadri.

(1984) claimed that COO may affect consumer’s certain beliefs about a foreign product but it does not appear to have a direct impact on the overall attitude towards this foreign product. For students. Since the introduction of the TRA. 1990.Downloaded by COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY At 02:42 17 February 2016 (PT) APJML 21. 1993. 1995) towards foreign products and services. such as how easily they can find the tuition fee. or brands originated in that foreign country (Bilkey and Nes. 1993). For example. Khachaturian and Morganosky. 1990. Lawrence et al. 1980. Since 1960s. economic and social environment may influence consumers’ perceptions about products. Ahmed and d’Astous. 1984) or action control (Kuhl. the UK. 1982). 1990) and purchase value (Ahmed and d’Astous.2 234 found that subject norm was less important in determining enrolment choices than attitude towards the enrolment. 1988). but had a strong positive effect on predicting Korean consumers’ intentions towards purchasing the same product. 1999) and purchasing intentions (Morello. whether they choose to study through an offshore program is also influenced by the PBC factors. Lawley (1993). COO tends to influence consumer evaluations of foreign products on two perceptions. 1984. Lee and Green (1991). many researchers have questioned the theory. there has been an extensive literature on country-of-origin (COO) and how that influenced consumer attitudes (Bilkey and Nes. for example. Cross-cultural studies regarding TPB were rarely found. Thus it is hypothesized that: H2. Numerous researchers have explored the effect of COO in the context of onshore program selection. Researchers suggested that besides individual’s control behavior. Lin and Sternquist. 1983). resources (Liska. and how easily they can make a decision about the choice of programs. 1985). For example. there were other factors which also influence human behavior. 1982. the context of opportunity (Sarver. Thus it is hypothesized that: H3. 1994. Erickson et al. A Chinese student’s SN towards enrolling into an offshore program has a positive relationship with his or her enrolment intention in this program. such as facilitating factors (Triandis. To increase the prediction capacity. 1994a. studied how students from Hong Kong evaluated Australia.. Canada and the USA as destinations for their higher . and yet there were a couple of attempts to verify the relative strengths of the three components of TPB on intentions. Han. Triandis (1989. Ajzen (1985. The Mainland Chinese society has been characterized as culturally collective and highly adherent to group norms (Hofstede. 1991) extended the TRA by adding a third construct. found that SN had no effect on predicting US consumers’ intentions towards purchasing sneakers. some researchers also questioned the capability of COO in explaining consumers’ selection of foreign products. 1977). a consumer perceptions about a country’s natural. Perceived Behavior Control (PBC) refers to the perceived ease or difficulty of performing the behavior. These factors will also influence their decision making and their intention of enrollment. In contrary. services. Yau. Ahmed and d’Astous. quality (Khachaturian and Morganosky. their purchasing behavior may be strongly influenced by the perception of other people’s thoughts. therefore. 1992. A Chinese student’s perceived control towards enrolling in an offshore program has a positive relationship with his or her enrollment intention towards this program. for example. d’Astous and Ahmed. 1994b) also claimed that individuals with a strong collectivist value are more likely to behave in accordance with the opinions of those who are important to them than individuals with a strong individualistic value. namely PBC.

1985). The UK ranked second in terms of higher education export only behind the USA (Glaser.000. This conclusion has been empirically supported by a number of other studies (Agarwal and Winkler. 1993. Online. Given the fact that students may have different perceptions about different counties. Mazzarol and Soutar. The criteria of selecting countries for comparison was based on: (1) all countries need to have English as the first language. 1978). SN. The reason for selecting Australia is obvious as the researchers are from an Australian institution.. Country selection This research tests the images of three countries including Australia. 2004. be different if the offshore programs are from different countries. the UK. Relationship between attitude and behavior 235 . As a result. The question here is: will the relationship among the four components of the TPB such as: AtB. This questionnaire did not include a section on actual behavior since the study only focused on the intention of enrollment. Methodology Questionnaire design This study adopted the method proposed by Ajzen (2002) to identify items for measuring each component of the TPB. we hypothesize that: H4.. bipolar adjective pairs of ‘‘unlikely’’ and ‘‘likely’’. Baker and Currie. normative and control beliefs associated with enrolling into an offshore program in China. A pilot study was conducted in Guangzhou. 2006. bipolar. PBC and intention. Srikatanyoo and Gnoth. In 2004-2005. the total number of international students who went to the USA reached 565. 2006). Country moderates the effect of the three components of the TPB on enrolment intention towards an offshore program. Canada led the UK by 2 per cent (9 per cent for Canada and 7 per cent for UK) (Ministry of Education (MOE). the UK and the USA were chosen for this study based on these criteria. A completed questionnaire was then back-to-back translated from English into Chinese and vice versa to achieve the best degree of accuracy.Downloaded by COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY At 02:42 17 February 2016 (PT) education. 2002. USA and Australia are also major competitors. In 1982. Academic Cooperation Association (ACA). (3) all countries need to have offshore programs running overseas. In other words. 1985. In 2004. 2005). Mazzarol et al. evaluative adjective pairs (beliefs–outcomes). AtB was measured by using four 5-points. (2) all countries are major players in the international education market. 1996. students often choose their destinations based on their perceptions of a particular foreign country. The scale for intention had three 5-points. The scales for SN and PBC were developed using similar methods. Australia.3 per cent during 2004-2005 as compared to that of 2003-2004 (American Council on Education (ACE). 2001. His study revealed that different countries were perceived differently among the potential students in Hong Kong. The UK and the USA have been considered as the major study destinations for decades and they are the main competitors with the Australian higher education export market. around 336. the UK and the USA. The USA remained the largest international education destination although its international enrollments decreased 1. For offshore program activities in China.990 international students studied in the USA (Agarwal and Winkler. 2002. Australia and the USA accounted for 56 per cent of the total number of offshore programs offered in China (29 per cent for Australia and 27 per cent for the USA). Reisberg. China with a group of 20 high school students in order to identify accessible behavior. Wilkinson et al.

An identical model was achieved after confirmative factor analysis. Thus in each class a mixture of questionnaires for Australia. GIF. In total. Multi-group SEM analysis was conducted to test the overall model fit (see Figure 1). This study intends to compare three offshore programs which were identified from Australia. the UK and the USA was distributed. the X2/df scores were between 1 and 3. USA and Australia would be the major competitors in China for the offshore program market. Data analysis Data analysis started with grouping data into different country.2 2007 Online). Confirmative factor analysis was conducted for each group after data had been carefully screened and cleaned. SEM model with measured variables . UK n ¼ 228 and USA n ¼ 194). Surveys were conducted in the normal class setting. the UK and the USA. So. A total number of 633 valid questionnaires were collected (Australia n ¼ 211. However. All outliers were identified. this was twice that of the US and Australia. and seven times that of Canada (Feng and Gong. 2006).Downloaded by COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY At 02:42 17 February 2016 (PT) APJML 21. the UK had 30 per cent of the total programs to be approved in 2005. TLI and CFI were Figure 1. Year 12 students were chosen for this study. For example. It is among the top ten most developed cities in China. All ‘‘goodness of fit’’ tests indicated that the model was fit to the multisampling data (see Table I). Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu Province on the eastern coast of China and it is next to Shanghai. Students picked up their questionnaires randomly. the UK had 115 offshore programs to be approved in 2005 compared with only 16 Canadian programs to be approved in 2005. 236 Sample The questionnaire survey was conducted in September 2006 in the metropolitan areas of Nanjing. it is reasonable to predict that the UK.

90). which indicated that two models were not statistically different.268 for Australia. 0. The chi-square difference was 4. PBC and intention) are highly reliable (all -values were between 0. the path coefficient from PBC to intention was 0. The path coefficient from SN to intention was 0.4 (df ¼ 6.70 and 0.355 for the UK and 0. the path coefficient from AtB to intention was 0. A further look at the causal relationship regarding each country found interesting patterns. the RMR was close to or less than 0. SN. For Australia.274 for Australia. H1 was supported.037.11 for the UK and 0. 0. H2 was also supported. Structural equation modeling showed path coefficients with each causal pathway. p > 0. Thus.622. AtB. Finally.Downloaded by COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY At 02:42 17 February 2016 (PT) more than 0. The reliability tests also showed that all constructs (i. Thus. A chi-square difference test was also conducted to investigate the equivalence of the discriminant validity between the model in which the correlations among constructs were freely estimated and the other model in which the correlations among the constructs were pre-determined.476 for the UK and 0. and RMSEA was at the good fit with result of 0.e. 1999).5.362 for the USA.05) for this study.209 for the USA. respectively. PBC had the largest path coefficient (. Path coefficients were equal to the meaning of standardized beta weights in a multiple regression (Rodgers and Rodgers.90. For example. H3 was also supported.311 for Australia.285 for the USA. p ¼ 0. The path coefficients were consistent with all our expectations (see Table II). 0. respectively. Thus. respectively.

311) among the three components of the TPB. for both the UK and the USA. ¼ 0. However. AtB had the largest path coefficient (.

476 and . ¼ 0.

Therefore.274** 0.110 0.209 Notes: *p < 0.929 RMR 0. Summary of path coefficients . UK but intention had significantly different mean between Australia and UK only. These results indicated that PBC has a stronger effect on enrollment intention for an Australian offshore program as compared to a US or UK offshore program.037 0.285*** 0. ***p < 0. SN.268 0.669 Path AtB intentions SNs intentions PBC intentions GIF 0.001. UK and USA. three of them. The results showed that among all four latent variables. Tukey’s HSD test showed that PBC had significantly different mean between Australia. **p < 0.355** 0.311 0. we also conducted a series of ANOVA tests.362). 1999).01. More specifically. H4 is supported. PBC and intention are significantly different across countries (see Table III). X2/df 1.362* 0.961 CFI 0. ¼ 0.05 Relationship between attitude and behavior 237 Table I. Overall model fit with multi-group SEM Table II.042 RMSEA TLI 0. AtB appeared to play a more important role in predicting the behavioral intention for a US and UK offshore program as compared to an Australian program.971 Australia UK USA 0.476* 0. To explore the effect of country on each component. The larger size of a path coefficient revealed the relative strength of a causal pathway (Rodgers and Rodgers.

thus their enrollment intention to programs offered by the first two countries was based more on AtB rather than SN or PBC. the effect was significant only for the UK sample. Results showed that AtB had a significant effect on intention for both UK and US offshore programs. Although PBC had a positive effect on enrollment intention for all the three countries. a student’s AtB.Downloaded by COMSATS INSTITUTE OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY At 02:42 17 February 2016 (PT) APJML 21. It is also interesting to find that the effect of the three predictive components on intention is contingent on which country the offshore program is from. Bagozzi et al. there are some differences between these two countries.. the UK or the USA). as compared to Australian offshore program. his or her SN. has a more positive and significant effect on intention for an US or UK offshore program.2 238 Table III. AtB has a relatively stronger relationship for the UK than for the USA (. as compared to programs from Australia. Supported by empirical results. However. This may suggest that the sample might be more familiar with the education programs provided by the USA or UK in general. (2000)) whether a theory (such as TPB) that was conceptualized in the western context (the US context. more specifically) could be applied into other contexts such as the Asian context. This could be explained by the education cost.g. It was generally believed that the receiving higher education in UK costs more than receiving higher education in Australia or the USA (Education Travel Magazine. for example. AtB. and his or her PBC all had positive effects on the student’s intention to enroll in the offshore program. this study has found that TPB could be well applied in China to predict potential students’ enrollment intention towards an offshore program. For example. It has always been questioned (e. The effect of country on TPB components Conclusions and discussion This study found that irrespective of the COO of the program (either from Australia. 2005).

¼ 0.476 for the UK and .

362 for USA) whilst SN is higher for the USA than the UK (. ¼ 0.

285 for the USA and . ¼ 0.

2002). there were more than 50. This finding indicated that Chinese students do have different views on these three countries.203 0. computer science and engineering. ¼ 0. Mazzarol and Hosie (1996)’s study also found that the USA was perceived to be a centre of excellence in nearly all the areas such as business.11 for the UK). The USA has been a study destination since 1847 (Yunan.000 Chinese students studying in the USA.026* 0. Chinese students are no doubt more familiar with the USA than with any other country.015* Note: *p < 0. which accounts for more than 10 per cent of total foreign students studying in the USA. This may indicate that. As at 2005. Country appeared to play a moderating role in the three components of TPB on enrolment intention. on one hand.046* 0. the USA may have a better image regarding higher education programs. Although all of the three countries are developed countries.252 0.05 . Main effects df F-value Significance Country AtB SN PBC Intention 2 2 2 2 1. Chinese students may not be so familiar with the UK as compared to the USA. while on the other hand.658 4. the enrollment intentions towards their offshore programs were different. while the UK was perceived to be excellent in law and medicine.092 3.598 3.

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