How much of a response rate is considered good in organizational surveys? The answer to this question seems to differ for different disciplines and journals. A few key points that I found in my reading of the literature are:
- In 2005, studies that collected organizational level data (for example, data on sales, profit, strategic orientation, innovation) had an average response rate of 35%, with standard deviation of 18.2 (Baruch & Brooks, 2008).
- Response rates have decreased over the years.
- Response rates for studies that utilize individual level data are statistically significantly higher.
- Response rates are statistically significantly lower for studies that are conducted outside the United States due to cultural differences.
- Some research finds higher response rates for web-based surveys. Other research finds that web surveys have lower response rates due to confidentiality and security concerns.
- Response rates from countries with high average power distance (Hofstede, 1980) are lower than countries with low average power distance (Harzing, 2000). Power distance reflects the average perception of differences in power within a society. Low power distance implies that less powerful members of institutions expect more consultative relationships with more powerful members, while high power distance implies a greater acceptance of autocratic relationships with those in higher, formal positions. Thus studies conducted in India are expected to have lower response rates due to the high power distance score for India (77) as compared to the USA (40).
Baruch, Y. and Brooks, H. “Survey response rate levels and trends in organizational research“, Human Relations August 2008 61: 1139-1160, doi:10.1177/0018726708094863
Harzing, A.W. “Cross-national industrial mail surveys: Why do response rates differ between countries?” Industrial Marketing Management, 2000, 29, 243–54.
Hofstede, G. “Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values”, Vol. 5. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE, 1980.
Smith, C. B. ”Casting the net: Surveying an Internet population”, . J. Comput. Mediat. Commun., 1997, 3: 77–84.