Selecting Research Direction and Questions



Selecting Research Direction and Questions



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Article I Journal Title: Achieving consumer trust on Twitter via CSR communication

The research seeks to establish means that can be used by companies to relay information on corporate social responsibility on social media platforms particularly twitter in an effective manner. It suggests that the involvement of the consumers and the consumer’s own processing mechanisms have a very vital role in so far as an evaluation of the trustworthiness of the companies is concerned.

The topic explored is very relevant since we have seen a continuous trend where various organizations are becoming more and more under pressure when it comes to communicating organizational policies and organizational positions as pertains to corporate social responsibility (CSR). Every market segment needs to be informed about the organization’s good intentions as well as actions so as to have an impression that the corporation is trustworthy. This implies that the market demand that their corporations engage them through dialogue. Notably, the existing academic literature does not have empirical research that seeks to examine impact of asymmetric versus symmetric communication strategies to the consumers.

Research Questions

i. Which strategies have corporations used in communication with their stakeholders about social corporate responsibility initiatives?

ii. Which of the two communication strategies, asymmetric communication and symmetric communication is more effective?

iii. What is the role of stakeholder’s personal information processing mechanisms when it comes to evaluation of trustworthiness of corporations?


The first hypothesis (H1) states: Asymmetric vs. symmetric CSR communication strategies will have differing impacts on consumer trust in the organization. The second hypothesis (H2) states: Consumer trust is higher among the consumers with high involvement (those being a “green” consumer in symmetric communication.

Considering the hypotheses, it clearly emerges that they are closely linked to the study questions. The formulated questions point into integrated communication approach as used in organizations with particular attention being paid to the relevance of the communication approached to corporate social responsibility. They further go on to address and draw parallels between innovative approaches such as symmetric and asymmetric communication techniques and their impacts on the stakeholders. The above are further captured in the hypotheses especially when we look at the consumer concerns about an organization’s initiatives on social corporate responsibility. For instance, scepticism green consumers have on CSR been capture by H2. Generally, green consumers are very much conscious about the environmental impacts of their purchase as well as their consumption behaviours. A close relationship between the hypothesis H1 and the research question can be seen by the fact that H1 tries to suggest that asymmetric and symmetric strategies are overtly different and their impact on consumer trust differ.

Analysing the Quality of research questions

The research questions used for this study are well thought and reflect the direction the qualitative research takes afterwards. The questions can be seen as articulating what the researchers want to know about the intentions as well as perspectives of the stakeholders towards their organization’s social corporate responsibility. The order in which they appear can be visualized as conforming to some chronological order thus enhancing the understanding of the problem under study. They start from a mere highlight of the issue at hand then to more and more broad perspectives of corporate social responsibility. There are a number of reasons that can be pointed out as making the current research questions work for the study in context. To begin with, the words are framed in such a way that their phrasing implicitly makes a link with the theory on consumer view on their organization’s social corporate responsibility. For instance, the questions act as a guide helping any reader into pointing out to the specific areas of theory as pertains to social corporate responsibility. A good illustration of this is the highlight on the concerns that the green consumers have about the purchase decisions they make to the overall well-being of the environment.

Another good quality that the research questions have is that they can be adequately answered. The research questions are seemingly answerable by any form of research. This has been particularly achieved by narrowing the scope of the study to educated stakeholders. The twitter questions were sent to consumers coming from the elite class, university students to be particular. The scope is also specific in that he addresses the consumers directly. The questions also point directly to the type of data that is required, that is, data on the consumers perspectives on a given organization’s social corporate responsibility. Therefore, such attributes work into making the research not only smooth but also achievable within specified timeframe.

Lead questions have been avoided when we look at all the research questions. This works into narrowing context of the research and increases focus of the research. Furthermore, there is no packing of research questions and it is evident that there are not any multiple sub-questions. The researchers are specific about what they want to know in each case and have each question targeting to get information about a given situation under study. This implies that each aim has been parsed so as to have a clear set of research questions.

Hypothesis Testing

Statistical approaches namely T-test and Linear Regression were used in testing the hypothesis. So as to establish if the different CSR communication approaches have a different impact on the consumer trust, independent T-test was conducted on the samples. As statistically relevant difference was found between the two samples used, that is, p was < 0.05, therefore supporting hypothesis 1. However, asymmetric communication as a communication strategy was found to have a higher impact with a mean of 4.16 and a standard deviation of 0.89 when compared to the symmetric communication approach whose mean and standard deviations were 3.99 and 0.91 in that order.

The second hypothesis (H2) was tested using linear regression model. The outcome of the file was split so as to carry out comparisons between the results of the two different samples. Other control variables such as age, twitter usage, credibility of the tweets coming from an organization and gender were also included after which the results were shown on a table.

Evaluations about the topic under study

As pertains to overall research, I have come to learn that reflective and interrogative processes are part and parcel of the development of research questions. Effectively developed research questions give the shape and direction to any form of study. Additionally, when conducting qualitative studies, it is paramount that the researcher institutes an ongoing process of questioning. It is through the onward process of questioning that researchers are able to well understand unfolding lives as well as perspectives of other people. Thus, any study that is being undertaken is fully shaped through the generation and refining of the questions.

A lot can learnt from going through this article regarding to how various organizations can improve the way they communicate their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on social media platforms like Twitter. To add to that, I also learnt how various strategies used in communication can influence the behaviour depicted by the consumers especially the consumer trust in corporate behaviour. In light of the strategies used in communication, there exists a significant gap between the approaches highlighted in the research questions and hypothesis. The two approaches of communication, the asymmetric communication and symmetric communication are overtly different with the asymmetric communication being better when contrasted with the symmetric communication. Still on involvement strategies as used in engaging the consumers, I have noted that the consumers never appreciate it when they perceive that their company may be engaging with them so excessively. Most of the consumers deem excessive engagement as being a form of self-promotion. This is demonstrated through negative responses received in twitter. Another important fact to be noted is that trust is supposed to take a multidimensional phenomenon that incorporates both rational and emotional components. Finally, organizational trust is better enhanced through not only the informational communication but also the transformational communication.

Article II Title: Does expressing subjectivity in online reviews enhance persuasion?

This article is set to establish the impact of linguistic content when it comes to persuasion in instances such as the use of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM). The research draws on the congruity theory as well as selectivity model in proposing that subjectivity and objectivity are effective in day to day communication. Furthermore, the study proposes that subjectivity and objectivity are highly effective more so when used in online review. However, this relies on whether an experience will be hedonic or utilitarian in nature. Other consideration involve if the decision maker in context will be a man or woman. Finally, the study examines the psychological mechanism that underlies proposed impacts.

This research is important since it is the first to explore the issue of subjectivity and objectivity as an influencing factor when we look at online reviews. I am sure that the findings from the current research can work into the growing literature dealing with the impacts of linguistics on eWOM. Apart from that, the research will definitely widen the general understanding of the conversational models for hedonic consumption besides utilitarian consumption for consumer-generated contents. Other impacts can also be established along the influence gender differences have on dispensation of the online reviews.

Initial Research Questions

i. How does subjectivity and objectivity as used in day to day communication affect persuasion in electronic word of mouth (eWOM)?

ii. Can the influence of subjectivity or objectivity expressions in an online review be deemed as being contingent on whether the consumption experience is primarily hedonic or utilitarian?

iii. Which psychological mechanism underlies the proposed effects of linguistic content as used in communication?

Quality of questions used in this study

Having selected the key topic for the research, the researchers proceeded into framing key initial research questions as well as hypothesis in a way that is focused. They use concepts and relationships that guide the framework for developing research questions that bear a close relationship with the underlying theory. The manner in which the research questions have been arranged in a chronological order provide a platform that helps in capturing data that is in conformity with the underlying theoretical concepts and relationships.

The questions that have been posed have three main qualities that make them qualify into being well thought research questions. Just at a glance, anyone going through them gets a rough idea of what that is being analysed and investigated by the topic. They are clear yet concise. In fact, they capture the topic under study in form of purpose, the target population which includes online users and finally the variables. The questions start with simple causal questions that try to compare the two phenomena under study and then tries to explore if the anticipated relationship. Next, there is a descriptive question that seeks to describe the phenomena particularly the change brought about by linguistic context. The third and last question is a comparative question that is geared into examining the difference that exists within different groups, particularly across the gender divide as pertains to the impacts subjectivity and objectivity has on their purchase decisions.

I also like the way the questions have been organized in a rather sequential order. They start with a descriptive question that tries to question the existence of a phenomenon in systematic way. For instance, the question, “Can the influence of subjectivity or objectivity expressions in an online review be deemed as being contingent on whether the consumption experience is primarily hedonic or utilitarian?” This means the study defined the key terms hedonic and utilitarian then set out into looking for the existence of at the same depending on the type of gender at the time purchase decisions were made by the men. In a similar manner, the study would go into relating the linguistic context in online reviews with hedonic consumption among the men and finally try to establish the relationship between objectivity and utilitarian consumption among the women. As explained above, shows such a well thought process.

The researcher then progress into formulating causal questions that try to question the underlying reasons for the relationship observed. This can be seen from the third research question, “Which psychological mechanism underlies the proposed effects of linguistic content as used in communication?” From here, it can be seen that the researchers are well interested in determining if there could be an intervention or some other activity that led into some change in the variables. Such a progression and structural approach in formulating and ordering the research questions shows a well thought process.

Testing of the hypothesis

The current study did not rely on any kind of application or software in testing the hypothesis. Instead, simple experimental design was used for the purpose of testing the hypothesis. The steps followed were straight forward, there researchers created four versions of online stimuli after which they requested the participants to go through the reviews that had been processes then proceed into completing a survey that had been designed.


Going through this exercise has enabled me to learn a new methodology as used in design of research. I was able to learn and know how experimental design can be used in testing hypotheses. Regarding reflections about the topic, I have learnt that the expression of subjectivity versus objectivity when processing online reviews works into affecting the purchase intentions of any market segment although differently.

The purchase intentions are impacted differently across the genders. To the men, the expression of subjectivity or objectivity boosts their purchase intentions under hedonic context. On the contrary, the expression of subjectivity or objectivity as online reviews are being processed affects their purchase decisions under the utilitarian context among the females. Furthermore, the current study carried out a mediation analysis whose findings denoted that perceived relevance that comes along with any review is attached to the psychological mechanism that explains the joint efforts of the linguistic styles, the type of consumption in addition to the purchase intentions that sharply differ based on gender lines.


Jana Kollat, Francisca Farache . (2017).”Achieving consumer trust on Twitter via CSR communication”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 34 Issue: 6, pp.505-514

Stephanie Q. Liu, Marie Ozanne, Anna S. Mattila, (2018) “Does expressing subjectivity in online reviews enhance persuasion?”, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 35 Issue: 4, pp.403-413