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The influence of marketing from a power perspective

Omar Merlo (Imperial College Business School, Imperial College London, London, UK)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 26 July 2011




Based on the widely held view that influence is exercised power, and in light of the suitability of power theory to studies of marketing's relative influence within the firm, this paper seeks to explore marketing's level of influence from a power perspective. The paper proposes and empirically tests a model in which the marketing function's four key types of power (bureaucratic power, critical contingencies power, network power, and psychological power) act as antecedents to marketing's influence within the firm. The model also aims to consider the contingency effect of market turbulence.


The study employs data drawn from a sample of senior managers in medium and large manufacturing firms. The model is tested using hierarchical ordinary least squares regression analysis.


The findings provide support for a link between all types of power and marketing's influence, with the exception of psychological power. Market turbulence is also found to strengthen the positive link between marketing's critical contingencies power and marketing's level of influence.

Practical implications

The study identifies and discusses power mechanisms that may be employed by marketing subunits to maintain or strengthen their influence within the firm.


Empirical evidence has shown that strong marketing functions are still needed, yet are slowly disappearing. This study approaches the question of how marketing departments can protect or regain their influence by adopting a power perspective. The findings suggest that marketing departments can tap into different types of power to further their influence. The study discusses the key theoretical and managerial implications and proposes some directions for future research.



Merlo, O. (2011), "The influence of marketing from a power perspective", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 45 No. 7/8, pp. 1152-1171.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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