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Marketing issues for business-to-business firms entering emerging markets: An investigation among Italian companies in Eastern Europe

Fabio Cassia (Department of Business Administration, University of Verona, Verona, Italy)
Francesca Magno (Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics, University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 19 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to comprehensively explore marketing issues for foreign industrial companies of large, small and medium size entering emerging markets (EMs), particularly transition economies in Eastern Europe. The vast majority of current studies about EMs focus only on defining suitable strategies related to large consumer goods corporations.


The research adopted a multiple case study approach. Five Italian companies belonging to different business-to-business industries that have entered emerging countries in Eastern Europe were selected for investigation.


Empirical analysis uncovered recurring issues related to: institutional factors causing market uncertainty and instability; difficulties in building a sales network; a need for product adaptation to guarantee satisfactory performance; choices related to communication, branding and trade fairs; and considerations about competition and first mover advantage. Results can be interpreted as an extension of the analysis of institutional voids by Khanna and Palepu (1997).

Research limitations/implications

The study is based on the analysis of five case studies of companies operating in specific EMs, namely in Eastern Europe Countries (EEc) Further research based on different samples and different emerging countries is needed before generalizing results.

Practical implications

The study shows that the main institutional void affecting business-to-business companies entering EMs is the lack of locally developed sales and after-sales networks. This institutional void slows the entry process of business-to-business companies in EMs. Given these constraints, from the perspective of business-to-business SMEs, it may be fruitful to pursue niche positioning in EMs.


The study analyzes EMs opportunities and entry strategies from the business-to-business marketing perspective, uncovering the most critical issues.



Cassia, F. and Magno, F. (2015), "Marketing issues for business-to-business firms entering emerging markets: An investigation among Italian companies in Eastern Europe", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 10 No. 1, pp. 141-155.



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