A MULTI-ETHNIC COMPARISON OF SERVICE QUALITY AND SATISFACTION IN NATIONAL FOREST RECREATION

Open Access
Author:
Li, Chieh-Lu
Graduate Program:
Leisure Studies
Degree:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
May 28, 2003
Committee Members:
  • Harry C Zinn, Committee Chair
  • Alan R Graefe, Committee Member
  • Deborah Lee Kerstetter, Committee Member
  • Anna S Mattila, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • EXPERIENCE
  • CROWDING
  • SERVICE QUALITY
  • SATISFACTION
  • MULTI-ETHNIC
  • FOREST RECREATION
Abstract:
This study focused on recreation use by ethnically diverse National Forest visitors and examined the relationships among cultural background, perceived service quality, satisfaction, and related variables. Using purposive sampling at sites known to be heavily used by individuals of particular ethnic backgrounds (Hispanic, Asian and White) 1,172 Angeles National Forest (ANF) visitors were contacted over the summer of 2002. Results showed that cultural, service quality, and other measures differed among the ethnic groups. For instance, Asians and Hispanics were more willing to endorse Hofstede's power distance (a cultural measure) but Hofstede's masculinity dimension showed no significant differences. Other differences and similarities are noted for socio-demographic, trip details, previous experience and crowding measures. Service quality and trip satisfaction measures showed that Asians were likely to perceive lower service quality than Whites or Hispanics. Because Asians perceived lower service quality, they also tended to be less satisfied than White or Hispanic visitors to the ANF. Using a structural equation model analysis, perceived service quality and satisfaction were highly positively correlated, and perceived lower service quality led to less satisfaction. Further analysis discusses the mediation effects in the model, especially those of service quality and experience and show that they play an important role in the relationship between culture and satisfaction. The reasons for these findings are somewhat complex and discussed at length in the study. Nonetheless, the results show that managers need to understand the diverse cultural background of visitors they serve, so as to customize their services to an increasingly diverse clientele to achieve high customer satisfaction. Overall, results suggest that managers should ensure diverse opportunities by providing extensive day-use oriented facilities, use multiple language brochures and signage, as well as recruit multi-ethnic employees and volunteers to create an "ethnic-friendly" ambience, and provide informational programs tailored specifically to these groups.