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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Journal of Business Venturing, Volume 28, Issue 6, November 2013, Pages 708–727
Entrepreneurial orientation (EO), market orientation (MO) and network ties are typically modeled as separate antecedents of performance. However, the boundary conditions for such models are under-explored, as is their applicability to developing economy settings. Accordingly, drawing on institutional and social capital theories, the current paper argues that the performance benefits of EO and MO are complementary, and vary across different levels of social and business network ties. Using primary data gathered from entrepreneurial firms operating in Ghana, the study findings indicate that aligning high levels of EO and MO improves business performance, and particularly so when social and business network ties are well developed, since under these latter conditions, the performance benefits of aligning EO and MO are greatest.
Developing economies are experiencing massive institutional transformations, which present substantial opportunities and challenges for entrepreneurial firms attempting to grow their businesses. Furthermore, many developing economies are moving to market-based policies as a way of stimulating economic growth and reducing poverty. In doing so, most industrial sectors in such economies are experiencing rapid structural changes, increased environment uncertainty and unbalanced growth. These dynamics have inevitably shaped the managerial assumptions and the decision-making processes of many entrepreneurial firms, including decisions regarding how to pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and how customer value is created and delivered. As such, firms' entrepreneurial orientation (EO) and market orientation (MO) activities take on instrumental relevance in such economies. However, the strategic orientation literature is not yet clear whether it is appropriate for firms to invest in EO and MO in challenging conditions, such as those experienced by developing economies. More specifically, the paybacks for leveraging complementarity between entrepreneurial- and market-oriented activities are not well understood in the context of developing economies. Furthermore, it is not yet clear whether this approach will be effective under different institutional frameworks and whether their effectiveness is conditioned by social and business network contexts. Thus, the purpose of this study is to examine whether entrepreneurial firms accrue performance benefits by simultaneously aligning high levels of both EO and MO and, of particular relevance for firms operating in a developing economy context, whether those potential benefits are enhanced for businesses with strong social and business network ties. A sample of 203 entrepreneurial businesses operating in Ghana was used to test the hypothesized relationships. We argue and find that it is the high levels of both orientations that maximizes performance in entrepreneurial firms operating in a less developed economy. Greater levels of EO are required for greater innovativeness and new market creation. However, these entrepreneurial activities also entail significant uncertainties and risks, especially in Ghana, where business infrastructure, such as supply chain arrangements, commercial law enforcement, energy and transportation facilities, is under-developed. While stronger MO is critical for a rapid response to current market needs and preferences, it also carries the risk of structural inertia and a tendency for firms to de-emphasize greater innovativeness; something that can be important in Ghana. Thus, the high certainties and adaptiveness of MO is required to complement the high uncertainties and risks of EO in less developed economies. We conclude that for an entrepreneurial firm operating in a developing country, such as Ghana, EO and MO are instrumental in enhancing business success most effectively when high levels of both orientations are leveraged. Second, the results also reveal that social processes outside the borders of the firm, in the form of social network ties and business network ties, further maximizes the performance benefits of aligning high levels of EO and MO. The indication is that the development of social and business network ties increases the impact of complementary strategic orientations on firm performance among entrepreneurial organizations operating in a developing economy. As in most developing economies, business-supporting systems in Ghana are weak with under-developed legal and regulatory institutions, meaning that commercial laws and regulations are not strictly enforced by government officials. As a result, exclusive reliance on entrepreneurial proclivity, market information and formal codes of contract may not be sufficient for entrepreneurial business success. Thus, the current study shows that entrepreneurial firms operating in Ghana are able to facilitate the performance benefits of their entrepreneurial-and-market-oriented efforts by building strong ties with governmental agencies and managers in other business organizations. Thus, while it is possible that network ties are less important in more advanced economies, they are critical in explaining variations in performance outcomes of strategic orientation activities in a less developed market, such as Ghana. The study's findings provide important insights for developing economy entrepreneurial business managers. Firstly, they indicate that an integrative approach to EO and MO yields greater returns than a disaggregate approach. An implication of this is that entrepreneurs should design strategies that encourage efforts to develop simultaneously high levels of entrepreneurial-oriented and market-oriented activities. Second, the study shows that efforts to develop social and business network ties maximize the benefits of these complementary strategic orientations on performance in institutionally-challenged conditions such as those in Ghana; hence we encourage entrepreneurs to leverage their external network ties to earn greater rewards for their entrepreneurial- and market-oriented activities. There are implications for policy too, since it may be possible for emerging market governments and developmental agencies to promote education and training programs to help entrepreneurs understand how to develop greater levels of EO and MO and how to cultivate stronger external network ties.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This research shows that an alignment of high levels of EO, MO, social network ties and business network ties produces differential performance outcomes for entrepreneurial firms in a developing economy. In particular, network ties were found to play an important role in shaping the complex relationship between firms' EO and MO activities and business success. There are several avenues that offer rich potential for researchers looking to advance our understanding of strategic orientations, particularly in developing economy contexts. For instance, a question that needs answering concerns the generalizability of the findings, especially the importance that network ties may have in economies that are at different stages in the development of their legal and regulatory institutions. Specifically, the view that network ties are more salient for the success of businesses in less developed economies than in more developed economies has been debated for some time now (North, 1990 and Williamson, 2009). However, very little comparative research has been conducted to empirically verify the latter notion. In order to broaden our understanding of the roles of network ties in facilitating the outcomes of strategic orientation activities, additional research is required to clarify the extent to which the two dimensions of network ties are beneficial to entrepreneurial ventures across developing and developed economies. On a similar front, Luo et al. (2008) raise an interesting question about whether managerial ties with government officials in China are always useful, arguing that the moderating effects of such ties on the customer orientation–performance relationship may be curvilinear, as opposed to the often examined linear effects. Future research might want to explore these multiple forms of relationship across different economic settings. Second, our research is undertaken in Ghana, a single, and relatively small, developing country. Ghana shares many characteristics with other developing economy countries including widespread poverty and socio-economic inequality and, therefore, offers a rich context to test the impacts of strategic orientation theories from a developing economy perspective (Acquaah, 2007). However, other developing countries may possess unique and varied contextual elements that allow for additional insights and theory development. For example, information is currently scarce on how national cultural factors, such as the future orientation, performance orientation, or risk aversion levels of the population, may act to shape the relationships between strategic orientations and entrepreneurial business success. Consequently, research attention should be directed at exploring the impact of cultural factors on the success of strategic orientations across a range of developing and developed nations, in order to incorporate into strategic orientation theory additional variables that vary at the national level. Third, research into the identification of potential opportunities for the strategic orientation activities of entrepreneurial firms to help lift people out of poverty and inequality would be most welcome. Here, a major research goal may be to find out how the growth of entrepreneurial success provides a platform on which our strategic orientation theories may help offer long-term solutions to global poverty and inequality. For example, Jennings et al. (2013) highlight the importance of examining the interaction between entrepreneurial activities, institutions and communities and their impacts on performance. In this respect, future research may consider studying the inter-relationship between entrepreneurial business activities, political ties, channel networking and interaction with local community leaders and performance. In this context, performance may be viewed as the extent to which severe poverty is substantially minimized in a community (defined as a local geographical environment (Marti et al., 2013)). Fourth, the results of the current study imply that entrepreneurs in emerging market contexts should become more entrepreneurially-oriented and more market-oriented, and that they should develop stronger network ties. However, the development of these capabilities and network resources is not necessarily straightforward or intuitive, takes time, and comes at a cost. Research that can directly provide assistance to businesses to overcome these barriers, or that can provide governmental trade promotion agencies with tools that will help them identify and disseminate best practice among their business communities is clearly needed. In this context, research needs to consider the trade-offs that entrepreneurs may need to make when considering how best to invest in different strategic orientations and organizational capabilities. Research into the antecedents of EO, MO, and network ties is patchy, and particularly in terms of EO and MO, has been conducted almost exclusively in relatively well developed market contexts. The need to undertake research that is relevant to emerging market businesses is now a necessity. Finally, in order to ensure quality and consistency of the data, our study excludes very small firms from our sampling frame. Specifically, micro-businesses employing less than five full-time staff are not part of the study sample. However, the notions of EO, MO and network ties are not without meaning in micro-business contexts: the essence of the ideas of EO (a proclivity to explore new market opportunities), MO (implementation of the marketing concept), and network ties (resources and information available to a firm as a result of the firm's location within social and business network structures) may well be relevant for small scale micro-businesses. Indeed, it may be that at the heart of the idea of helping developing economies to grow is the need to nurture the best micro-firms; those with the greatest potential for expansion and business success. Future research, therefore, can also focus on understanding how micro-businesses can develop and leverage EO, MO and network ties from birth, and the impact that these orientations and resources may have on business development.