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Global social time perspectives in marketing: a strategic reference point theory application

Michael G. Harvey (University of Mississippi, Holman, Mississippi, USA Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia)
Timothy S. Kiessling (Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia)
R. Glenn Richey (Young J. Boozer Faculty Fellow, Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 25 April 2008




The ultimate purpose of this paper it to encourage international business scholars and managers to pay more attention to global social time when performing research and developing business strategy.


Strategic reference point (SRP) theory is used as a foundation to assist in visualizing the meaning of social time in a global context. From this grounding point, the authors make specific suggestions about the importance of the topic despite it being largely overlooked in international research dating back to Hofstede.


Time utility takes on a significantly different meaning when both a marketing manager's context and market are global. The conceptualization of time by different cultures can yield significantly different meanings based upon a culture's SRP(s) as to how social time is measured. Cultural differences necessitate having this flexible orientation towards social time to effectively develop and implement global marketing strategies. This research addresses the importance of breaking‐down the concept of social time into its fundamental dimensions and developing strategic implementation steps using the dimensions of time as competitive tools in the global marketing arena.

Research limitations/implications

A six‐step process is developed to assist marketing researchers and managers in developing social time sensitive marketing strategies. Researchers and managers must be aware of the differences in social time perspectives and should analyze the situation to ascertain differences in the dimensions of each cross cultural group. An effort must be made to combine these varying social time perspectives into a consolidated social time foundation for the marketing team in the host country. Differences in social time must be taken into consideration when developing/executing strategies in other countries that have different social time perspectives.


Breaking new ground in international business, this paper sets the ground work for the future study of up to 12 different streams of research important to the understanding of (global) time in international business. Managerial tools are included in the discussion to assist in international marketing practice.



Harvey, M.G., Kiessling, T.S. and Glenn Richey, R. (2008), "Global social time perspectives in marketing: a strategic reference point theory application", International Marketing Review, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 146-165.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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