Case Studies

Klineberg/Rice University - Houston Asian Survey

Situational Analysis - Since 1982, Dr. Stephen Klineberg of Rice University has been surveying and reporting the opinions and attitudes of Houston's diverse population. The survey was expanded in 1993 to include a greater sampling of Hispanics and African Americans. In 1996, Asian leaders urged Dr. Klineberg to further expand his survey to include Asian Americans. The Rice sociologist approached de La Garza Public Relations for assistance in organizing and raising the corporate contributions to support a scientific random sampling of Houston's Asian community. An estimated $150,000 needed to be raised to complete the Asian American survey.

Research - Asian-Americans are Houston's fastest-growing ethnic minority, increasing by 96 percent from 1980 to 1990 to a total population of 134,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The Census count of 1990 reports that Asian-Americans represented about 4.1 percent of the population here. But the Census' broad definition of "Asian Americans" as residents of the U.S. who have origins in many different "Asian" countries with dissimilar languages, religions and cultural backgrounds, make this population the most diverse of America's minority groups.

To accurately survey this rapidly growing but still small population, a large number of randomly selected household, reached by dialing approximately 15,000 to 20,000 random digit numbers, needed to be screened in order to identify 600 to 700 households, which contain at least one respondent of Asian descent. Survey questions initially was translated into five major Asian languages: Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Hindi, and required bilingual interviewers. Additional translations also were needed. The survey contained approximately 125 questions asking respondents about their families, their evaluations of the major problems facing Houston, their perceptions of relations among ethnic groups, their views of the economy and a variety of public policy issues.

Implementation - Klineberg and Rice University appointed de La Garza as the project manager for the first-ever Asian American Survey and assigned de La Garza the job of coordinating all activities related to the project. de La Garza developed and managed the fund raising campaign and coordinated research, development and promotion of the survey.

Results - The survey was published and distributed in 1996. The report received widespread publicity and attention. Requests for the survey continue to be received. The survey is the only one of its kind to be conducted in the United States and provides the only in-depth analysis and insights into the Asian American community of a major American city.