Response rates in international mail surveys: Results of a 22-country study

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Researchers embarking on their first international mail survey find very little guidance in the present academic literature. In 1988, two articles were published in the fall issue of the Journal of International Business Studies that claimed that: “at the moment the crossnational researcher has very little evidence upon which to base his judgments about [mail] survey design” [Jobber and Saunders (1988) An experimental investigation into cross-national mail survey response rates, Journal of International Business Studies 19, 488] and “Literature concerned with response rates from industrial samples drawn from multiple countries is nearly absent” [Dawson and Dickinson (1988) Conducting international mail surveys: the effect of incentives on response rates within an industrial population, Journal of International Business Studies 19, 492]. Unfortunately, not much has changed since. Still, very little is known about how respondents from different countries react to mail surveys. This article intends to fill part of this gap by describing the results of a large scale international mail survey in 22 countries. Response rates are shown to vary considerably across countries in a way that contradicts much of the earlier (American) research on this subject. Several explanations for these differences in response rates are put forward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-665
JournalInternational Business Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • international business research
  • multinationals
  • international mail surveys
  • response rates


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