Rating versus ranking: What is the best way to reduce response and language bias in cross-national research?

Harzing A., Baldueza J., Barner-Rasmussen W., Barzantny C., Canabal A., Davila A., ...More

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS REVIEW, vol.18, no.4, pp.417-432, 2009 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 18 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ibusrev.2009.03.001
  • Page Numbers: pp.417-432
  • Keywords: Cross-national research, Research methods, Response style differences, Language bias, Survey research, CULTURAL ACCOMMODATION, HONG-KONG, STYLE, VALUES, PERFORMANCE, DIMENSIONS, ISSUES, IMPACT


We propose solutions to two recurring problems in cross-national research: response style differences and language bias. In order to do so, we conduct a methodological comparison of two different response formats-rating and ranking. For rating, we assess the effect of changing the commonly used 5-point Likert scales to 7-point Likert scales. For ranking, we evaluate the validity of presenting respondents with short scenarios for which they need to rank their top 3 solutions. Our results - based on two studies of 1965 undergraduate and 1714 MBA students in 16 different countries - confirm our hypotheses that both solutions reduce response and language bias, but show that ranking generally is a superior solution. These findings allow researchers to have greater confidence in the validity of cross-national differences if these response formats are used, instead of the more traditional 5-point Likert scales. In addition, our findings have several practical implications for multinational corporations, relating to issues such as selection interviews, performance appraisals, and cross-cultural training. (C) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.