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Inter‐firm relations in SME clusters and the link to marketing performance

Chrysoula Lamprinopoulou (Land Economy and Environment Research Group, Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh, UK)
Angela Tregear (University of Edinburgh Business School, Edinburgh, UK)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 2 August 2011

Abstract

Purpose

Networks are increasingly recognised as being important to successful marketing amongst small and medium‐sized enterprises (SMEs). The purpose of this study is to investigate the structure and content of network relations amongst SME clusters, and explore the link to marketing performance.

Design/methodology/approach

Following a review of the literature on SME networks and marketing performance, case study analysis is performed on four SME clusters in the Greek agrifood sector.

Findings

Analysis finds that the configuration of horizontal relationships between producer SMEs has little bearing on marketing performance, unless also accompanied by strong vertical connections between key members of the SME cluster and other actors in the supply chain. The disposition of these key members towards information‐seeking and contact building outside their SME clusters is also identified as important.

Practical implications

To improve marketing performance, leaders in SME clusters should focus on building strong vertical relationships in the supply chain, and encourage knowledge gathering from external market contacts.

Originality/value

Unlike many studies of SMEs, networks and marketing performance, this research investigates the networking phenomenon at the level of whole SME clusters, rather than at the level of individual SME owner‐managers.

Keywords

Citation

Lamprinopoulou, C. and Tregear, A. (2011), "Inter‐firm relations in SME clusters and the link to marketing performance", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 421-429. https://doi.org/10.1108/08858621111156412

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited