قابلیت های بازاریابی و استراتژی های مبتنی بر نوآوری برای پایداری محیط زیست: مطالعه اکتشافی از شرکت های B2B
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی||تعداد کلمات|
|26639||2011||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید||14644 کلمه|
Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 40, Issue 8, November 2011, Pages 1305–1318
While emerging literature on sustainability shows that environmentally responsible strategies can contribute to competitive advantage and enhanced financial performance, little is known about specific marketing capabilities that lead to sustainable consumption behavior, and whether implementing such strategies leads to firm competitive advantage. Using the case method approach, this study explores marketing-related strategies and practices pertaining to sustainable consumption as reported by leading sustainable firms in the B2B context. We examine case studies of forty seven B2B firms and identify key marketing capabilities that tie to innovation-based sustainability strategies, sustainable consumption behavior and firm performance. We use our findings to develop a conceptual framework linking marketing capabilities to innovation strategies for firm sustainability, sustainable consumption behavior and firm competitive advantage, and put forward propositions for future research.
Rapid rise in global population growth, consumption patterns associated with global affluence, as well as a consumerist culture among different income groups have put unsustainable stress on environmental ecosystems. According the World Bank, sixty percent of the earth's ecosystem has been degraded in the past 50 years, while natural resource consumption is expected to rise to 170% of the Earth's bio-capacity by 2040. Consequently, businesses are coming to the realization that the issues of sustainability and sustainable development can no longer be sidestepped, and have identified several important areas for sustainable development, one of which consists of innovation-based strategies (WBCSD, 2008a). While academic and managerial research has suggested that sustainability and sustainable development can lead to competitive advantage for firms (Berns et al., 2009, Bilgin, 2009 and Wagner, 2005), research studying the role of marketing capability in innovation-based competitive strategy has been limited (Weerawardena, 2003), and no study to date has examined the specific capabilities that can drive innovation-based sustainable development strategies. Our study addresses this gap in the literature with a focus on Business-to-Business (B2B) firms. In a recent issue of Journal of Marketing, Kotler (2011) states that the need for sustainable marketing practices means new challenges to marketing scholars and marketing practitioners, and highlights major research imperatives in the area of sustainability including the following issue: “What factors lead companies to compete on the basis of sustainability? What changes in marketing practice does sustainability seem to require?”(p. 135). We derive our motivation for this study from past research arguing that firms' quest for sustainability helps them develop distinct competencies that drive innovations ( Nidumolu, Prahalad, & Rangaswami, 2009), and hence competitive advantage ( Day and Wensley, 1988, Hurley and Hult, 1998 and Porter, 1990). Research also suggests that basic competencies and internal capabilities should precede development of sustainability-based managerial practices ( Christmann, 2000, Darnall and Edwards, 2006, de Ruyter et al., 2009 and Hart, 1995). Based on extant research in strategic marketing (Weerawardena, 2003), we contend that firm marketing capability influences the development of innovation-based sustainable strategies, while also facilitating the success of such innovations in the marketplace, leading to firm competitive advantage. Though marketing capabilities have the potential to generate innovation-based sustainability strategies, the functional role of marketing in the strategy dialog has been overlooked by marketing and related disciplines. This oversight is even more acute in the B2B context. Though B2B transactions represent a majority of all marketing activities outnumbering Business to Consumer (B2C) transactions, i.e., purchases by end-consumers (Polonsky, Broks, & Henry, 1998), limited academic research has addressed the issue of how B2B firms address sustainability challenges within their new product development processes (Geffen, 1997 and Pujari et al., 2004). The managerial practice also reflects a similar gap (Joshi, 2009 and Stoiber, 2011). The present study bridges this research gap by exploring whether different types of marketing capabilities can help generate innovation-based sustainability strategies in B2B firms. We argue that firm marketing capabilities are a key driver to sustainable development. We define sustainable development as one that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is a process of change in which “the exploitation of resources, the direction of investments, the orientation of technological development, and institutional change are made consistent with future as well as present needs” (WCED, 1987). Specifically, our exploratory study investigates the relationship between marketing capabilities and the innovation-based strategies intended to promote sustainable consumption behavior in the B2B context. Borrowing from the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development, we define sustainable consumption behavior as a range of social, economic and political practices at the individual, household, community, business and government levels that support and encourage the consumption of goods and services that respond to basic needs and bring a better quality of life, while minimizing the use of natural resources, toxic materials and emissions of waste and pollutants over the life cycle, so as not to jeopardize the needs of future generations (OECD, 2002). Understanding the relationships between marketing capabilities and innovation-based sustainability strategies is both theoretically and managerially relevant. Theoretically, we integrate the literature on marketing capabilities, innovation and sustainability to develop a conceptual and testable framework on the relationship between marketing capabilities and innovation-based strategies for sustainable development in the B2B context. From a managerial perspective, a key question facing firms that engage or plan to engage in sustainability business practices relates to how they can leverage the firm's capabilities to enhance sustainable consumption behavior. This study attempts to shed some light on the specific capabilities that managers must seek to develop in order to attain desired sustainable behavioral outcomes in a B2B environment. The fundamental premise of this study is that different types of marketing capabilities can be a catalyst to different types of innovation-based sustainability strategies. Based on findings from our case analysis, we formulate propositions that relate marketing capabilities of firms that pursue sustainability to both technical (product and/or services, and production process technology) and non-technical (managerial, market, and marketing) innovations. Further, we also propose that such innovation-based sustainability strategies are positively associated with sustainable consumption behavior and firm competitive advantage. Our paper is organized as follows: first, we review the extant literature on marketing in the context of sustainability and innovation and make the case that marketing capabilities are positively associated with innovation-based sustainability strategies that lead to firms' competitive advantage. Based on the literature review, we develop the specific research questions that guide our study. Next, using the case research method, we systematically examine forty seven firms to identify B2B firms that practice sustainable development, and develop a conceptual framework linking marketing capabilities to innovation-based sustainability strategies, sustainable consumption behavior and firm performance. We then put forward propositions for future research and discuss the findings, managerial implications, and conclusions.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Marketing scholars have recently highlighted the need for innovation strategies in order to satisfy the expectations of the wide range of ‘green’ stakeholders that have often ambiguous, and sometimes conflicting, demands (Cronin et al., 2011 and Hall and Vredenburg, 2003). In a recent review, Cronin et al. (2011) propose eleven urgent research questions that warrant further academic investigation. While one of these research questions relates to “green innovation” (p. 163), “understanding the development process and associated performance (or outcomes) surrounding the generation of new green products” is a field ripe for research, as such an approach “likely generates innovative and technological advances that allow firms to capitalize on both the entrepreneurial and environmentally-friendly strategies rather than merely meet legal or regulatory standards” (p. 164). Our study is an attempt at a change in the strategic management paradigm, by using the sustainability discourse to identify new resources and capabilities that can generate a competitive advantage for the firm (e.g., Hart, 1995, Medina-Munoz and García-Falcon, 1998, Post and Altman, 1992 and Shrivastava, 1995). Accordingly, the major sources of competitive advantage of the future will be those resources (e.g., those contributing to the environment conservation) and capabilities (e.g., waste reduction, green product innovation) that can significantly contribute to a sustainable economic activity. Juxtaposing this research gap with the observation by marketing scholars on the dearth of studies examining the role of marketing capabilities on firm innovation (Varadarajan, 1992 and Weerawardena, 2003), our paper is a timely attempt to investigate the relationship between marketing capabilities and environmental sustainability in the innovation-based competitive strategy. The findings from our case study of 47 sustainable firms in B2B marketing concur with extant research suggesting that a study of innovation strategies need to include both technical and non-technical innovations (Weerawardena & Mavondo, 2010). Specifically, we find that both technical and non-technical innovation strategies lead to sustainable consumption behavior. Based on empirical evidence and guidance from the capabilities theory, we posit 11 propositions that suggest relationships among various marketing capabilities, innovation-based sustainable strategies, sustainable firm consumption behavior and competitive advantage. An important finding in our analysis is that innovation is an important strategy in the path to a firm's sustainability. Our research has important theoretical and managerial implications. Theoretically, we open up the stream of research related to the impact of marketing capabilities in the realm of sustainable development. Specifically, we put forward propositions that will move the field forward in terms of theoretical conceptualization of how specific marketing capabilities identified in the extant literature can impact innovation strategies of a firm that pursues sustainability. Additionally, we propose an indirect relationship of innovation-based sustainability on competitive advantage, mediated by sustainable consumption behavior. Though the path between innovation and competitive advantage has been suggested and shown in recent research (Weerawardena, 2003), the mediating role of sustainable consumption in environmental sustainability contexts is new to the literature. Finally, we introduce the sustainability discourse within the theoretical ambit of innovation-based competitive advantage. While our study is exploratory and conceptual, we hope the propositions put forward in the research build up into a theoretical debate on the complex relationships between marketing capabilities, environmental sustainability, innovation and competitive advantage. From a managerial perspective, this study suggests that if firms' sustainability is indeed keyed to innovation and superior performance (Nidumolu et al., 2009), top management must identify and build sustainability-driven capabilities. Conversely, if managers feel that they have strong marketing capabilities, our research highlights the specific strategies that can be pursued given a specific set of capabilities. Our exploratory study provides propositions for further empirical work by marketing scholars. While our propositions and conceptual model were based on an exploratory research into firms that were already pursuing sustainability, future research can look at a more diverse sampling of firms. Also, our study focuses on firm sustainability in the B2B market; future research could investigate similar relationships in the B2C market. Preliminary findings from our data suggest that marketing capabilities in the B2C market can also be associated with innovation-based strategies. For example, to influence consumers to adopt products or brands that are environmentally friendly, firms need specialized marketing capabilities that can effectively relate this information. Firms need to possess knowledge and use state of the art promotional techniques required to convince consumers about the value of green products. In that regard, firms should recognize the emergence of the concept of ‘sustainable communications’ rather than the more narrowly defined concept of green promotion (Peattie, 1995). As consumers are increasingly exhibiting skepticism to green messages using conventional marketing communications media, firms with excellent promotional capabilities might be able to use sustainable communications to drive their innovation strategies. Additionally, research can investigate whether interactions exist between marketing capabilities as related to innovation strategies. Of the firms we reviewed for example, several companies that converted their product packaging capabilities into technical innovation also reported the launch of integrative marketing communications to ensure that their efforts are known and supported through customer information and education (Peattie, 1995). Similarly, firms using their product development capabilities for innovation-based sustainability strategies were also market-oriented and possessed strong market research capabilities, which they capitalized on for successful innovation. In these companies, marketing research provides R&D units with the needed input and customer feedback to develop products that satisfy the rising green customer segment. Therefore, it may be that the value of specific marketing capabilities gets accentuated in the presence of others. Thus, investigating the effect that the interaction or the combination of multiple marketing capabilities has on innovation-based sustainability strategies would lead to significant theoretical and managerial insight. Future research can also investigate how one can gain the commitment of other constituents, including customers and employees, to environmental practices (Handfield, Walton, Seegers, & Melnyk, 1997). Often, a gap exists between the desire to be environmentally responsible and the degree to which environmental management is practiced (Gattiker & Carter, 2010), hence exploring the factors contributing to implementation of environmental practices would be a valuable endeavor. Finally, this study focused only on environmental sustainability. Future research must include the other 2Es of the “triple bottom line”, viz. economic and social sustainability into the conceptualization of sustainable development, as suggested by Hunt, 2011, Savitz and Weber, 2006 and Rogers et al., 2008.