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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Industrial Marketing Management, Volume 41, Issue 6, August 2012, Pages 1008–1018
A marketing strategy alignment model that incorporates marketing strategy alignment, supply chain performance, and organizational performance constructs is proposed and assessed. Data collected using an e-mail, Internet-based methodology from a sample of 117 managers with knowledge of their organizations supply chain activities are analyzed using a structural equation methodology. The data collected reflect the perceptions of the managers concerning the extent to which their firms have aligned marketing strategies with supply chain partners. Findings indicate that alignment of the marketing strategies by the partners throughout the supply chain is positively associated with supply chain performance and that supply chain performance is positively associated with organizational performance. Because this is an early study based on a relatively small, diverse sample, the findings of the study are considered preliminary. Based on the results, managers seeking to improve the performance of their organizations should work with supply chain partners to align marketing strategies throughout entire the supply chain. This is one of the first empirical studies to assess the relationships among marketing strategy alignment, supply chain performance, and organizational performance constructs.
Supply chains are value chains that extend from supplier's supplier to ultimate customer. Supply chain management requires integration and coordination of business processes throughout the supply chain for the purpose of satisfying and responding to changes in the demands of ultimate customers (Lambert and Cooper, 2000 and Vokurka and Lummus, 2000). The business processes that must necessarily be integrated and coordinated include: purchasing, manufacturing, marketing, logistics, and information processes. As Jarratt and Fayed (2001, p. 71) state, “The development of integrated supply systems moves competition into a new phase, with systems competing against systems to create efficiency and client value at each point in the system.” Heizer and Render (2006) identify the key to successful supply chain management as the ability to develop long-term, strategic relationships with supply chain partners. The quality of the supply chain relationships directly impacts the performance of the supply chain (Fynes, de Búrca, & Marshall, 2004). Effective supply chain management maximizes value to the ultimate customers of the supply chain in terms of both satisfaction with the product and/or services and a relatively low total cost of the product and/or service. Supply chain managers are responsible for reconciling supply and demand issues within value chains (Rainbird, 2004b). Traditional supply processes focus on efficiency in support of lower costs, while traditional demand processes focus on effectiveness with the aim to please customers (Rainbird, 2004b). Rainbird (2004a) asserts that this process fusion can be a source of dynamism rather than dysfunction, although such fusion is difficult to achieve. Existing research supports the general proposition that the alignment of systems throughout the supply chain enhances organizational performance (Green & Inman, 2005). In particular, Seggie, Kim, and Cavusgil (2006) argue for and find empirical support for positive impact of IT system integration throughout the supply chain on market performance through brand equity. Richey, Tokman, and Skinner (2008, p. 847) similarly argue and find support for their proposition that retail managers will “reap superior gains” from technology collaborations with suppliers. Powers and Reagan (2007) contend that supply chain partners, in particular buyers and sellers, derive competitive advantage from strong, long-term relationships and empirically identified relatively more important relationship factors. The integration and coordination of marketing processes throughout the supply chain has received little attention (Jüttner, Christopher, & Godsell, 2010). Flint (2004) argues that the superior marketing strategies of the future will necessarily be those that are more fully integrated across the supply chain. The ability to integrate and coordinate becomes paramount to satisfying the demands of the ultimate customers of the supply chain. While there are costs associated with efforts to coordinate and integrate (Rainbird, 2004b), we argue that the total cost to the ultimate customer is minimized through a focused response by all supply chain partners to the changing demands of ultimate customers. The integration and coordination yields overall efficiency and effectiveness improvements that lead to better satisfied ultimate customers (Rainbird, 2004b). Successful supply chains are customer focused, requiring not only that each of the individual firms within the supply chain exhibit a market orientation but that the marketing strategies of the individual firms be integrated and coordinated such that the supply chain, as an entity, exhibits a market orientation (Gundlach et al., 2006, Jüttner et al., 2007 and Min and Mentzer, 2000). Gundlach et al. (2006) argue that the integration and coordination of marketing strategies across the supply chain offers “continued opportunity” for cross-disciplinary research. It should be noted that Fabbe-Costes and Jahre (2008), after reviewing the supply chain integration and performance literature, concluded that more research is necessary before a general conclusion related to the impact of supply chain integration on performance can be drawn. The literature related to the development and implementation of organization level marketing strategies that focus on the satisfaction of immediate customers is relatively well developed (Green et al., 2005, Green et al., 2006, Panayides, 2004 and Vorhies et al., 2009). The supply chain management literature related to the importance of collaboration of supply chain partners to satisfy the ultimate customers of the supply chain is also relatively well developed (Chen and Paulraj, 2004, Ho et al., 2002, Hoyt and Faizul, 2000, Lee, 2004 and Whitten et al., 2012). This is not the case for the literature supporting the need to integrate and coordinate marketing strategies throughout the supply chain. This theoretical basis for marketing strategy alignment throughout the supply chain has been theoretically argued and is supported anecdotally in the literature (Jüttner et al., 2010). Supporting empirical evidence is not present, however. We theorize a marketing strategy alignment performance model with a marketing strategy alignment construct as antecedent to supply chain performance and organizational performance. This research effort extends and expands the view of marketing strategy alignment from the organization level to the supply chain level. We argue that the organizational strategies of all supply chain partners should be integrated into a supply chain level strategy that focuses on satisfaction of the ultimate customers of the supply chain. The specific research question under investigation is: “Does a supply chain level marketing strategy aimed at satisfying ultimate customers positively influence supply chain and organizational performance?” Generally, we propose that alignment of marketing strategies by the partners throughout the supply chain will positively affect supply chain performance, which will, in turn, positively influence the organizational performance of each of the supply chain partners. We define and describe the marketing strategy alignment construct and recommend a multi-item scale for measurement of the construct. A sample of APICS members with knowledge of their organizations' supply chain management initiatives provided data necessary to assess the marketing strategy alignment model. Perceptions of the responding managers related to the extent to which their individual firms have aligned marketing strategies with supply chain partners are reflected in the dataset. The study scales are carefully assessed for validity and reliability, and the study hypotheses are tested within the context of the marketing strategy alignment model following a structural equation modeling approach.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Marketing strategy alignment positively affects supply chain performance which positively influences the marketing performance of the organization, and improved marketing performance positively affects financial performance of the organization. Supply chain performance does not directly influence financial performance of the organization as expected, however. The effect of supply chain performance on financial performance is indirect through marketing performance. This indirect, rather than direct, effect on financial performance may be explained by the strong customer focus reflected in the supply chain performance construct and imbedded in the supply chain performance measurement scale. Supply chain performance is decidedly market focused leading to improved marketing performance. While organizations are in business to improve financial position, the ultimate customer of the supply chain must be satisfied before financial gains are realized. Financial success depends upon marketing success. Marketing strategy alignment indirectly affects organizational performance through supply chain performance. 5.1. Contributions of the study Lee (2004) theorized the importance of strategic alignment throughout supply chains and supported this theory with anecdotal evidence. This study provides empirical support for his general strategy alignment theory and specific support for the need to align marketing strategies throughout the supply chain to satisfy the ultimate customers of the supply chain. We theorize and empirically assess a marketing strategy alignment model that incorporates both supply chain performance and organizational performance constructs. The findings support the efficacy of marketing strategy alignment. Organizations that work to align marketing strategy with supply chain partners to better satisfy the ultimate customers of the supply chain are likely to induce improved supply chain performance yielding improved organizational performance. The results emphasize the need for partners within a supply chain to integrate organization level marketing processes into a combined supply chain marketing strategy aimed at satisfying ultimate customers, thereby reinforcing the need to optimize at the supply chain level, rather than the organizational level. 5.2. Limitations and future research While we believe that the objectives of the study were accomplished, limitations of the study should be noted and recommendations for research efforts described. The measurement scales adopted for this study are based on the perceptions of the respondents. The response rate is relatively low with respondents from firms spread across very different industries. In addition, this is one of the first studies to assess the effect of marketing strategy alignment throughout the supply chain on supply chain and organizational performance. The study must, to a degree, be considered exploratory with preliminary results making a subsequent more solid empirical assessment necessary. All respondents are members of APICS representing manufacturing, oil and gas, and logistics firms and are primarily plant and operations managers, supply chain managers, and logistics managers. While we believe that this group has the requisite knowledge of the supply chain management efforts of their organizations, we recommend that generalization of the results beyond the sample and the population it represents be done with caution (Mentzer & Flint, 1997). Replications of this study using data collected from diverse samples are necessary to provide evidence of statistical generalizability as recommended by Mentzer and Flint (1997). Our development of the marketing strategy alignment scale did not include a large enough first sample to support a full assessment as Churchill (1979) recommends. The pilot study focused on supply chain managers working for large manufacturing companies across the United States. We were only able to identify 100 individuals with the specific “supply chain manager” job title. This small target group produced the small first sample. Time and cost constraints precluded collection of a second pilot sample. This pre-test approach is similar to the one adopted by Ahire et al. (1996) where they initially surveyed 100 plants with representatives from 20 responding. The marketing strategy alignment scale was subsequently fully assessed within the context of the primary study, however, and found to meet the recommended standards for unidimensionality, reliability, and validity. The study would, however, have been improved had the first sample supported a full assessment of the new scale. By its nature, supply chain performance is relatively difficult to measure. With the exception of the Zelbst et al. (2010) scale adopted for this study, supply chain performance scales identified in the literature measured satisfaction of immediate, rather than ultimate, customers. While measurement of satisfaction of the ultimate customer is appropriate, there is concern whether or not a single supply chain manager within an individual company can properly assess both organizational and supply chain performance. Both the marketing alignment and supply chain performance scales measure supply chain level constructs. Measurement of such supply chain level constructs is inherently difficult. This study used single sources with manufacturing organizations to collect both organizational and supply chain related data. These measurement scales are designed to assess the perceptions of managers related to the extent to which their firms have aligned marketing strategies with supply chain partners and the extent to which the ultimate customers of the supply chain are satisfied. An alternate approach requiring collection of data from multiple sources along supply chains is desirable. Such an approach is very difficult to implement logistically, however. Future research efforts building on this exploratory study and associated preliminary results should attempt to match supply chain managers from partnering organizations throughout supply chains. 5.3. Implications for practitioners Competitive advantage at the supply chain level depends upon the supply chain's ability to focus on and respond to changes in customer demands. Not only must the individual firms adopt a market orientation but the firms must build relationships with partners that focus the entire supply chain on satisfaction of the ultimate customer at a relatively low total supply chain cost. Based on the results presented in this study, we recommend that marketing managers working for the partnering firms within the supply chain collectively work to integrate and coordinate the marketing strategies of their individual firms to focus on the ultimate customers of the supply chain. In effect, we recommend that they work to develop a “supply chain marketing strategy.” Such a strategy will not directly yield improvements in the marketing and financial performance of the individual firms. Rather, the relationship between marketing strategy alignment and organization performance is mediated by supply chain performance. Marketing managers should “globalize” by focusing on decisions that improve the overall performance of the supply chain in this era of hyper-competition between supply chains. We have established the efficacy of developing a supply chain marketing strategy through a rigorous empirical investigation. Such a declaration belies the difficulty in actually establishing the relationships with supply chain partners necessary to successfully develop and implement such a strategy. The on-going process of strategy alignment is both complicated and complex. While value chains are sometimes simplistically illustrated as the sequential partnering of suppliers, manufacturers, intermediaries, and customers, value chains are more appropriately described as complex network of supply and demand chain partners (Rainbird, 2004a and Rainbird, 2004b). Rainbird (2004b) describes value chains as necessarily combining both supply and demand chains. Friction is created between the efficiency focus of the supply function and the effectiveness focus of the demand function (Rainbird, 2004b). Rainbird (2004b) specifically assigns the responsibility for reconciling these supply and demand issues to management. Lee (2004) provides important direction in terms of how manufacturers should go about creating alignment by recommending that supply chain partners share information, define and assign responsibilities, and align incentives. From a marketing perspective, supply chain partners should adopt a supply chain level market orientation focused on satisfying the changing demands of the ultimate customers of the supply chain. This requires that intelligence related to changes in the demands of the ultimate customers be generated and disseminated to all supply chain partners and that the partners respond to the intelligence collectively within the context of a “supply chain marketing strategy.”