عوامل تعیین کننده استراتژیک سودآوری نمایندگی در بازار مخابرات سیمی ایالات متحده
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|11957||2002||21 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Information Economics and Policy, Volume 14, Issue 1, March 2002, Pages 111–131
Resellers of wireline telecommunications services are firms buying transmission or switched minutes capacity from facility-based backbone and local loop carriers to ‘refine’ these raw supplies by introducing their own pricing schemes and sometimes by running own network nodes to switch leased capacity. They market these ‘refined’ offerings then under their own brand and on their own account to end customers. Using data gathered from 12 US toll resellers for the 6-year period from 1992 to 1997 the present study provides an empirical analysis of associations between 15 strategy variables and two profitability measures of such resellers. The sample reported an average sales margin of −7.81% and a return on total capital mean of −9.96%. However, inter-firm profitability differences were very large. Statistical analyses revealed that more profitable resellers displayed (1) a lower share of medium-sized business customers, (2) a lower service portfolio concentration, (3) a higher degree of horizontal service diversification, (4) a focus on fewer sales channels, (5) fewer customer complaints per million $ sales, and (6) a higher costs of service share of total operating costs. Empirical findings are interpreted to support a life-cycle concept of wireline toll resellers. This means that only those firms immediately using cash-flows generated from basic long distance service resale for a cost-conscious expansion of activities into related services in a first step and for a roll-out of facility-based carrier operations in a second step seem to be on the road toward longer-term prosperity.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The present empirical study explored strategic profitability determinants in a sample of 12 US toll resellers in the years from 1992 to 1997. In the following discussion we do not want to reiterate specific statistics which were already interpreted in previous paragraphs. Rather, we intend to develop a ‘high level macro view’ of our study’s implications for the developmental dynamics of non-facility based providers of telecommunications services whose origin is in the wireline segment of the market. Taken as a whole, the empirical analysis suggests that regulatory conditions enabling firms to resell long distance calls provide these corporations with an opportunity to start a new venture in a telecommunications market segment in which barriers to entry are much lower than they used to be in the facility-based carrier business. This ‘entry ticket’ does not however include a long-term guarantee of profitable operations and of survival by just sticking to the business model pursued when founding the new venture. Rather, only those firms immediately using cash-flows generated from basic long distance resale for a cost-conscious expansion of their activities into related telecommunications services (e.g., value-added services such as 0800 numbers, customized applications, wireless mobile resale) in a first step and for a roll-out of facility-based carrier operations in a second step seem to be on the road toward longer-term survival. This corporate development pattern is at odds with the widespread notion that — even in the telecommunications industry — the start-up phase of a supplier always requires a rapid set-up of self operated production (or rather network) facilities (e.g., Grunwald and Schwellbach, 1999, p. 194). Taking into account that a general corporate life-cycle entails a four-phase sequence from (1) pioneer to (2) growth to (3) maturation and finally to (4) decline or reorientation ( Mintzberg, 1989), our work suggests for successful wireline telecommunications resellers that their sales-oriented business model constitutes only the pioneer phase in a corporate life-cycle entailing a development toward a fully integrated carrier with significant own network facilities. The reseller’s infant organization is therefore limited to sales, marketing and customer care units to gain a flexible toe-hold in a dynamic market environment. The primary orientation towards customer requirements in terms of price and service level is pivotal to establish a successful business and offers the opportunity to probe the client needs spectrum with limited capital risks. This pattern might hold also for newcomers in other fast growing markets outside the telecommunications industry. A respective example is the Personal Computer (PC) industry in which a broad variety of value-added resellers performed downstream functions like system delivery, installation and customer service prior to initiating re-orientations towards the business model of an fully integrated PC assembler and software producer as market environments shifted. In addition, in the Internet-based ‘new economy’ one can observe firms being exclusively founded for the primary reason of fast acquisition of a broad customer base without handling any value activities related to physical production and/or distribution of the products which they sell. Once having reached the end of their own (short) life-cycle from founding the business to decline/re-orientation entrepreneurs sell their intangible assets (accumulated customer base and some amount of brand equity) to a more established competitor. In turn, this acquisition enables the competitor who is fully integrated along the value chain to skip the pioneer phase when rolling out Internet-based distribution channels to support his own growth strategy. The acquisition of Napster by Bertelsmann may be taken as a recent example illustrating notion of a modified life-cycle concept for network-based industries. The preceding general discussion implies that the developmental life-cycle concept for wireline toll resellers should also hold outside the US in national markets in Europe in which carriers with significant market power are obliged to offer switched minute and transmission capacity to other firms at terms which enable the latter to resell these services to end customers. For instance, in Germany the ‘Telekommunikationsgesetz’ and the ‘Telekommunikations-Kundenschutzverordnung’ force the incumbent, i.e., Deutsche Telekom, to allow resale of its basic telephony and transmission services (cf. Wuermeling, 2000). However, a peculiarity of the German regulation is that a distinction is drawn implicitly between switchless and switch-based resale of long distance calls with switch-based resellers being provided with more favorable interconnect supply prices than switchless providers ( Brunekreeft and Gross, 2000, p. 931). In markets with such a differentiation the US results can be applied probably only to switch-based service providers rather than to ‘genuine resellers’ which just handle customer acquisition and care and pricing and billing procedures. In markets where wireline resale business opportunities are created by a regulator key success factors in the early life-stages of a reseller seem to be centered more around market-related competencies such as finding appropriate ways for related service differentiation or identifying customer target groups with needs not satisfied by established facility-based carriers (e.g., small businesses with two or three locations looking for opportunities to link their sites via cost-efficient telecommunications services). Technical assets and competencies such as the operation of a flexible IN-switching platform or a sophisticated billing system appear to be necessary but surely are not sufficient to sustain above average profitability. The competitive advantages that resellers can extract from technical resources last only for a short span of time since vendors of such assets tend to sell their equipment to as many resellers as possible. More profitable resellers understand that technological assets are helpful to gain a competitive edge only during a short ‘window of opportunity’ as long as other players not taking the pioneer position in the use of telecommunications service deployment technologies have not caught up. They exploit this early window of opportunity to obtain economies of scale (=larger customer base) and scope advantages (=multi-service portfolio) which cannot be easily imitated by followers. In Germany, Debitel and Mobilcom are examples of this type of successful ‘hit and improve’ corporate development. In contrast, TelDaFax and Drillisch are prototypes of unsuccessful resellers which failed to move on from the stage of reselling basic telephony service to the stage of being a more diversified service portfolio provider with a critical mass of customers. Obviously, the preceding discussion should be regarded as tentative given four major limitations of our study. A first limitation is that data could be collected only for a small subsample out of group of more than 300 US toll resellers. Therefore, future research should expand our approach by including additional (particularly smaller) firms operating in the US toll resale market and by investigating resellers operating on European markets. A second limitation is that our study period (1992–97) was such that potential impacts of the US Telecommunications Act of 1996 on critical success factors in resale could hardly be captured. Future research could explore whether the legal changes of 1996 have resulted in structure modifications in the US telecommunications industry which nurture new success factors (e.g., addition of local calls to a reseller’s service portfolio; see Beard et al., 1998, pp. 325–326) or which de- or increase the profitability impacts of the strategy variables investigated here. A third limitation of our work is that we assumed unidirectional causal effects of strategy variables on profitability criteria but that we looked at cross-sectional associations in our analysis. However, given that we collected data for a 6-year period we could calculate at least the following quasi-longitudinal analysis to check whether the causal interpretations suggested here are in line with the empirical data: first, we measured the average sales margin and return on total capital for the successful and crisis-ridden reseller subsamples using only figures from 1996 and 1997. This procedure corroborated the classification based on the complete 1992 to 1997 figures discussed in Section 4.2. Then, we calculated mean values of the 15 strategy variables in the period from 1992 to 1995 for the successful and crisis-ridden reseller subsamples. The results of this comparison in which strategy variables were captured for a period preceding the time span for which profitability measures were collected were substantially identical with the conclusions following from the data in Table 1. Thus, there is empirical evidence to support our assumption of a causal chain going from strategy to profitability. Nevertheless, future research should employ a truly longitudinal design covering more than 6 years. A fourth limitation of our study follows from our exclusive reliance on accounting-based criteria to measure reseller economic performance. Consequently, further investigations are desirable which complement accounting-based criteria with capital market performance measures of publicly quoted resellers and with ratings of reseller performance collected in surveys of knowledgeable experts working inside or outside the focal firm. In conclusion, this paper shed a little empirical light on strategic determinants of reseller profitability and potential life-cycle phases of resellers in the US wireline telecommunications services market. It contributes to the field of telecommunications management and policy since the previous literature mostly was not based on empirical evidence or was considering facility-based carriers instead of resellers.