روش الگوبرداری توانایی بازاریابی یکپارچه برای عملکرد فروشنده از طریق تجزیه و تحلیل های پارامتریک و غیرپارامتریک
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|1318||2010||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 39, Issue 1, January 2010, Pages 150–160
The role of marketing capabilities as a source of sustainable competitive advantage has been discussed previously in the marketing strategy field. Benchmarking, a well-known learning mechanism, is suggested as a tool to identify and improve the marketing capabilities of a firm. Despite its popularity as a theoretical concept, there is not much empirical evidence to support the view of benchmarking marketing capabilities as a route to guide managers' efforts in this direction. This paper contributes to the three perspectives in the literature that support the view that benchmarking marketing capabilities can offer a basis for sustainable competitive advantage of the firm through both a conceptual and integrated benchmarking model. They are empirically analyzed using stochastic frontier and data envelopment analysis methods based on four-year data set of forty-five dealers of a leading business-to-business supplier. The results indicate the importance of competent salespeople and building a long-term relationship in enhancing dealer performance. In addition, they reinforce a recipe of how marketing capabilities can be benchmarked to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. Discussions and implications for managers are also presented.
The role of marketing capabilities as a source of sustainable competitive advantage has been discussed previously in the marketing strategy field. Recently, benchmarking, a famous management tool for organizational learning, has been suggested as a method to improve the marketing capabilities of a firm (e.g., Andersen, 1999 and Vorhies and Morgan, 2003). Benchmarking is the process of identifying the highest standards of excellence for products, services or processes, and hence making the improvements necessary to reach those standards, which are commonly called “best practices” (Biehl et al., 2006 and Bhutta and Huq, 1999). It offers the opportunity to recognize good performance and expose poor performance for remedial action. In both academia and the business world, benchmarking has been discussed and analyzed in terms of the processes of marketing implementation, i.e. the ways in which a company converts its marketing inputs of cash, information, expertise, time, and strategy into marketing outputs of new products, communications, customer expectations, sales, and margins. Benchmarking of marketing productivity, processes, and capabilities utilize diverse methods. Some methods rely on an expert assessor external to the company for scoring marketing capabilities as input to regression analyses (Woodburn, 1999). Other types of methods rely on financial data and operating statistics to estimate efficiency frontiers through data envelopment analysis (Donthu, Hershberger, & Osmonbekov, 2005), and stochastic frontier analysis (Dutta, Narasimhan, & Rajiv, 2005). Despite its popularity as a theoretical and empirical concept, there is not much evidence to support the view of benchmarking marketing capabilities as a way to sustainable competitive advantage or to guide managers' benchmarking efforts (Vorhies & Morgan, 2005). We build our study on three theoretical perspectives of benchmarking marketing capabilities mentioned in the literature. These are resource-based view of the firm, market orientation, and organizational learning. Our aim is to demonstrate the relevance of these theoretical perspectives of benchmarking in a business-to-business (B2B) context; specifically in a dealership network for this study. Characteristics of business markets include, among others, a small number of customers, long-term business relationships, and a high degree of interaction between members of the supplier and the customer company (Homburg & Fürst, 2005). There are several reasons to choose a B2B context for this study. Companies doing business in a B2B environment have a narrower range of marketing measures available to them, and generally focus on expenses, which rarely contribute to performance improvement (White & Dieckman, 2005). However, a supplier's deployment of marketing and sales channels can significantly improve its strategy and can even lead to a structural transformation in channels (Wilson & Daniel, 2007). In this transformation, dealers play a critical role for complex product sales by creating customer knowledge of the products; working with the customer to discover the best solution and providing after-sales support (Sharma & LaPlaca, 2005). So, measuring outcomes from marketing activities in a dealer distribution channel is becoming increasingly important in a competitive environment and benchmarking offers the opportunity to recognize good performance and expose poor performance for remedial action. Based on the three theoretical perspectives and the B2B context indicated above, this study will be conducted in two parts. In the first part, we introduce our conceptual model adopted from Dutta, Narasimhan, and Rajiv (1999), which offers a resource-based perspective on a firm's marketing capabilities and the impact of these capabilities on financial performance. In the second part, we have an integrated benchmarking model adopted from Ross and Droge (2002), in which nonparametric approaches are incorporated into the model to benchmark the temporal performance of dealers. According to Vorhies and Morgan (2005), there are two benchmarking alternatives; functional and integrative benchmarking. In functional benchmarking, individual capabilities are assessed separately whereas in integrative benchmarking a set of related capabilities is assessed collectively (Fawcett & Cooper, 2001). In this study, we implement integrated benchmarking, in which the existence of interdependencies between individual capabilities can be a source of competitive advantage (e.g., Teece, Pisano, & Shuen, 1997). Our data set has a panel setting, which includes four-year time period data of forty-five dealers of a leading B2B supplier, and we employ stochastic frontier estimation and recent extensions of data envelopment analysis to analyze the functional forms. We explore three research questions in this paper. First, we examine how efficiently the dealers utilize marketing capabilities to transform marketing resources to superior financial performance. Second, we explore whether there exists any efficiency trends in the observed ranking order of dealer performance over time. Third, we look at whether there has been a shift in the efficiency frontier of dealers across time, specifically we analyze whether each dealer maintains its relative position i.e. efficiency ranking in comparison to other dealers during the four-year time period. Related with the second research question, we also conduct additional window analysis to identify the role model of inefficient dealers in the network. There are several expected contributions of this study. First, by using analytical techniques, we attempt to understand and analyze the complex phenomenon of the impact of marketing capabilities on firm performance that is underserved by statistical procedures. Second, we take an applied economics view and show that organizational marketing efforts make some firms more competitive than others. Third, the introduction of efficiency methods to examine the impact of marketing capabilities in a B2B context proves the value of benchmarking as a tool, empirically. The organization of the paper is as follows. In the next section, we introduce the industry background of this study. Next, we explain the conceptual model, first by emphasizing the different theoretical perspectives of benchmarking marketing capabilities in the literature, then by identifying the marketing capabilities that are going to be used in our empirical analysis. In the method section, we describe the data set, input and output factors, and also the procedures of parametric and nonparametric analyses. After we give the results of our analyses, we discuss their theoretical, empirical, and managerial implications. Limitations and suggestions for future research conclude the paper.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In this research, we propose a conceptual model to examine the relationship between the marketing capabilities and firm performance, and an integrated benchmarking model to investigate the firm performance over time in a dealership network. Both parametric and nonparametric analyses are conducted based on four-year data of 45 dealers to answer the research questions. The results provide further understanding of the role of marketing capabilities and the benchmarking of marketing capabilities as an organizational learning tool in a B2B context. The first substantive result from SFA analysis is the importance of the inputs, marketing expense and investment in customer relationship in estimating the sales frontier. Marketing expense includes the selling and design expenses including customer support services such as travel and entertainment; whereas investment in customer relationship includes the knowledge the customers require and their expectations, customer relationship management, and customer satisfaction. In a setting with complex industrial products like office furniture, design, along with other services related to selling are of great importance for the end customer. Therefore, although dealers sell similar products provided by a single supplier, sales services become critical inputs in the decision making process of a consumer to make the actual purchase from a dealer. In addition, building a long-term relationship with the customer is another important factor to build a reputable image for the dealer. The importance of a dealer, which plays an intermediary role in this network, also explains the negative relationship between the advertising expenditure and sales. In this setting, the party who has to care more about advertising should be the manufacturer. In addition, the end consumers are less likely to be affected by the advertising effort of the dealer than other service promoting components like an outstanding salesforce who contribute to sales services. Our results are indeed similar to what Dutta et al. (1999) find in a semiconductor industry setting with different operationalizations of the data.4 Another significant variable in our sales frontier is the showroom occupancy expense. This item is also one of the differentiating factors among dealers. Each company has its own way of displaying similar products in a different showroom. In this industrial setting, showroom constitutes another essential part in consumers' decision making process to choose among the dealers. The first part of our study has important implications for RBV through defining marketing capabilities in an input–output model, where it concludes that a dealer can transform its resources (inputs) into a single output (objective) more or less efficiently based on its specific marketing capability functions, which are identified as marketing communications, selling, and market information management for our context. Ours is also one of the first studies to allow the manager to understand the importance of benchmarking marketing capabilities over time. In the second part, through measuring temporal performance, it is found that movements in marketing capabilities are likely to yield high versus low performance across dealers. This finding is coherent with market orientation strategy of the firms by suggesting that a dealer's strategy focusing on market orientation can be enhanced through a more efficient marketing capability function and also through market-based learning from competitors (Slater & Narver, 1995). In addition, the non-parametric tests and visual inspection of the rank order matrix provide that there is a decreasing trend in the efficiency rankings of the dealers through a four-year time period. In addition, it is found dealers maintain their relative positions with respect to others. This raises an important conclusion; although some dealers are constantly outperforming others, there is a loss of efficiency overall in both high and low performers meaning that recently dealers have given less care to their marketing capabilities. Finally, our study has also important findings corresponding to organizational learning and market orientation literature since it concludes that market-based learning is an effective strategy for the dealership network. In this study, benchmarking has been put forward as a favorable tool to enhance market-based learning (Teece et al., 1997) and facilitating the mediating role of marketing capabilities. In addition, it contributes to the literature by demonstrating the potential performance benefits of the benchmarking as a tool, empirically. Our study addresses the use of extended DEA methods with rank order matrices rather than efficiency scores and also some non-parametric tests in order to measure temporal performance of dealers across years while identifying the role models of inefficient dealers. Following the conclusions of these tests, it is found that there exist 16 efficient dealers appearing five or six times on the reference set of inefficient dealers Since the maximum number of appearances for a specific efficient dealer on the frontier of an inefficient dealer is six in the whole set, five and six appearances are categorized as role models. According to this classification scheme, the possible categories of dealers are listed as follows: Category 1: There may not be a role model for some inefficient dealers, and 23 dealers belong to this category. Category 2: There may be only one role model for some inefficient dealers, and seven dealers (D_1, D_9, D_14, D_22, D_30, D_38) belong to this category. Category 3: There may be two role models for some inefficient dealers, and only one dealer, which is D_26, is in this category. Using this finding, managers of inefficient dealers in the network can identify their role models in order to set performance targets and identify the actions that will take them to the best performance level. As the number of role models increase for an inefficient dealer, it means that the particular dealer has more flexibility in crafting its strategy to reach that objective. On the other hand, a single role model suggests an apparent choice and strategy for that inefficient dealer but at the expense of having a very limited set for comparison and action. An alternative method to identify the role models is via examining the frequency of appearance of four to six rather than five to six, but we think this would cause weaker role models to exist, which may impede operational excellence of the dealers and set lower objectives as well (Ross & Droge, 2002). In the identification of the role models, D_1 and D_31 deserve extra attention. On contrary to our expectations, they do not appear on the frontier of inefficient dealers although they are efficient. So, these two dealers are assessed to be “uniquely efficient” among 16 efficient dealers. One obvious reason for their unique efficiency can be the way their inputs and outputs are mixed. They might have an idiosyncratic combination of inputs and outputs so that they do not appear close to other efficient dealers on the efficiency frontier and this positioning makes them unique. However, it is no longer easy or practical for others to mimic them in projecting to the frontier. Therefore, these two dealers are the unpopulated vectors that can not become role models for the inefficient dealers due to their uncommon or idiosyncratic strategy to become efficient. This research has specific contributions to the literature. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first in terms of testing an integrated benchmarking theory regarding marketing capabilities of a firm in a B2B context with temporal data. First, it identifies the marketing capabilities, which are associated with more efficient dealer performance. Second, the temporal performance of dealers is measured and the role models of inefficient dealers are identified. This procedure provides useful insights for the managers of those inefficient dealers to set performance targets and try to reach them by mimicking role models. This study introduces and proves the effectiveness of two analytical procedures to examine a complex phenomenon of marketing strategy in a B2B context from an applied economics perspective; it demonstrates that organizational marketing efforts support the theoretical perspectives of RBV, market orientation, and organizational learning, and enable some firms to create sustainable competitive advantage compared to others. 6.1. Managerial implications Our study reveals new insights for managers in two ways. First, we assess that marketing capability improvements are likely to yield higher returns for dealers. Our results reinforce the importance of competent salespeople for selling capability, and building long-term relationships with the customer through market information management in a dealership network. The statistical procedures separate high from low performers and identify managerial implications. We delineate the specific investments in developing marketing capabilities that provide the greatest influence in sales revenue. Investment in hiring and training of sales personnel and sales support services have the greatest influence on delears' financial performance over time. Therefore, hiring, training, and retention of sales and support personnel should become a priority for dealer management. Another insight for the marketing managers to yield higher returns can be enhancing relationships with customers through establishing knowledge management processes, effective complaint management processes, and interpreting customer satisfaction levels in addition to measuring them. In other words, managers should translate and embed the results of their performance measures into their marketing strategy and relationships with the customers. Furthermore, investment in showroom exterior and interior can positively influence the dealer's image and reputation in a customer's mind. Aside from this, managers should invest cautiously in advertising and promotions outside of those provided by the supplier, as they may not yield higher returns. This is due to the nature of the B2B setting, where customers are more influenced by an outstanding salesforce and purchasing experience in a dealer rather than its advertisement and promotion efforts. Second, our study demonstrates how managers can benchmark marketing capabilities to achieve sustainable competitive advantage. We find that participation in benchmarking activities does not always translate to improvements in efficiency or ranking, thereby placing greater importance on the use of the benchmarking process to acquire beneficial information. Managers of inefficient dealers can identify role models using benchmarking data and communicate with the managers of their role model dealers. Through this, they can set performance targets and identify the actions that will take them there. In general, it is seen that there is a decreasing efficiency of trend among dealers, so more attention should be given to this problem to identify the sources of inefficiency in the network, and make use of the marketing capabilities function more effectively. Overall, it is found that the dealers without a role model are more than the other two categories. This also warrants managerial attention in the sense that either these dealers need to be shut down or consolidated with the others to improve the overall efficiency in the network. 6.2. Limitations and directions for future research Several limitations related to the availability of the data and the analyses provide additional future research opportunities. First, this study emphasizes the marketing capabilities both in terms of their impact on financial performance and their role in benchmarking. However, the study focuses on the marketing capabilities related to the role of a dealer as a selling organization. Increasingly, dealers are becoming a service business. For example, in the office furniture industry some dealers produce and distribute furniture, and provide facility services to the dealership's clients, including design, project management, warehousing, delivery, installation, refurbishing, and moving/relocation (OFDA, 2004a). To address this dealership role, a future study can examine other marketing capabilities such as product development, marketing planning, and marketing implementation. Likewise, our study focuses on a single output of sales, whereby examining profitability, market share or other objectives can provide further understanding of the efficient use of firm resources. Therefore, other types of firm capabilities and performance outcomes can be incorporated into both our conceptual and integrated benchmarking model to make the research more comprehensive and insightful for academic and business related purposes. Second, pertaining to the data, short time span is a limitation. Especially for temporal performance assessment, a longer time period is likely to reveal more realistic results. In addition, in the future, the inputs and outputs used in the conceptual model and stock variables can be created from advertising, marketing and showroom expense data by fixing a coefficient in order to take into account the effect of the former year's expense on the cumulative expenditure (Dutta, Narasimhan, & Rajiv, 1999). However, since we have a short time period, it is hard to estimate reasonable spillover effects. Third, we have limitations regarding SFA methodology. In our estimation, we do not take into account the heteroskedasticity of error term. Given the differences in the scale of the operations, it seems reasonable to allow for heterogeneity in the variance of the composite error component (composed of random and efficiency error term). In addition, some covariates can be included, and a model searching for fixed effects can be constructed in order to make the efficiency assessment more comprehensive. In the case, where a similar study is conducted with a longer time span, the time varying technical efficiency component can be introduced into the model in order to identify the contribution of efficiency change on the marketing capability change of the dealer over time (Kwon & Lee, 2004). Finally, our study concentrates on a specific industry. This may be a limitation to the generalizability of the results in both parts of our analyses, thus the repetition of this study across different industries can enhance its external validity. However, the main purpose of both parametric and nonparametric analyses in this research is to delineate the benefits of various technical efficiency techniques for the optimization of marketing capability efficiency in a dealership network, and therefore the tools are widely applicable to other industries. Specifically, we strongly believe in the merits of both techniques as general recipes for industries conducting a benchmarking study.