Opening up decision making: making sense of entrepreneur and reseller business‐to‐business strategies

Arch G. Woodside (Boston College, Carroll School of Management, Department of Marketing, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Publication date: 1 December 2005



Aims to map business‐to‐business strategic actions to illustrate how manufacturers and resellers of new fast moving consumer goods interact when responding to environmental feedback to their decisions and to assess the effectiveness of alternative implemented decisions in assisting organizational growth.


This report presents a detailed example of causal mapping analysis for a manufacturing entrepreneurial case study; the example covers processes linking events, decisions, and activities in business start‐up, growth, and failure of the enterprise.


For the case study illustrating the mapping approach, between the start‐up to the demise stages a shift does occur in the number of decision areas judged very good to very bad; for example, product design decisions shift from very good to remarkably good to very bad among the three stages. Pricing strategy was judged very bad consistently across the three stages.

Research limitations/implications

For research on entrepreneur behavior, additional work on inter‐coder reliability is needed to confirm the consistency of both creating concepts and coding linkages in such maps. Detailed causal maps are needed in large samples of entrepreneur case studies to test the propositions. The application presented here is exploratory only. Causal mapping analysis represents a tool useful in case study research and theory construction from such case study data and such analysis deserves wider use among researchers desiring to open up research in decision making.


What really is happening and why? To help in answering, mapping thought‐decisions‐outcome dynamics over several stages of new product innovation and diffusion occurring among manufacturers and resellers provides an explicit sensemaking approach for executives.



Woodside, A. (2005), "Opening up decision making: making sense of entrepreneur and reseller business‐to‐business strategies", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 20 No. 7, pp. 347-354.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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