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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Volume 26, Issue 4.
Unusually, I have chosen to publish two viewpoint articles in this issue. I would commend them both to the reader. The first one, by Svensson, may strike you as a little parochial, since it deals with the legitimacy of ranking lists for academic journals; nevertheless, I think you will see that it has a direct relevance to the question of how academic research can contribute more to marketing practice. The second viewpoint, by Fan, is very clearly of direct relevance to marketing strategists and planners, and raises the question of how emerging market multinationals (EMMs) are going to affect the global business world over the next decade and beyond.
In his viewpoint article, Göran Svensson makes a further contribution to the debate about the legitimacy and value of ranking lists of academic marketing journals, a subject on which he has written before (most recently in Issue 2 of the present volume of Marketing Intelligence & Planning (MIP)). At first sight, this subject matter may appear to have little relevance to the wider goal of this journal to publish articles that are relevant to marketing practice. However, if marketing academics are rewarded (through promotions or the achievement of tenure) for publishing in a sub-set of journals that are deemed to be of particularly high status, then the activities of marketing academics will be heavily influenced by the editorial policies of those journals. It follows that the justification for placing certain academic journals in the top places on ranking lists is important not only to scholars, but also to practitioners and other stakeholders who hope to benefit from the research activities of marketing scholars. The key point that Svensson makes is that the measures that are used to rank academic marketing journals would not meet the standards that marketing scholars demand of measures of marketing phenomena in scientific studies. In particular, doubt was cast on the reliability and validity of single-item measures in the field of marketing three decades ago; yet, argues Svensson, marketing scholars are prepared to have the status of their own journals ranked according to single-item measures. Consequently, Svensson argues that marketing scholars cannot trust the journal rankings that are in common use, and which have an important influence on academic careers. He contends that more reliable and valid journal rankings should be developed, and that these will very likely be based on multi-item measures.
Ying Fan, in the second viewpoint article, draws on his scholarly knowledge of the fields of international marketing and international business, and on his personal knowledge of Chinese economic development, to pose some very important questions about EMMs. One very memorable phrase struck me when I first read this paper: “Rather than having to learn strategy from the west, the Japanese perhaps could teach Mr Porter something about strategic thinking.” Here, Fan refers to an earlier wave of economic disruption brought about by the internationalisation of Japanese multinationals in the 1950s and 1960s. If the Americans (and other developed western economies) failed to understand Japanese strategy and under-estimated Japanese competition five decades ago, is it not at least possible that they (we) have failed to understand EMM strategy and under-estimated EMM competition today? Of course, Fan does not make the mistake of claiming that all EMMs are all the same, or that they will all pursue the same strategies they come from several different countries, represent several different social, political and cultural backgrounds, and their approaches to business will no doubt be heterogeneous. Without wishing to over-simplify the nuanced ideas presented by Fan, two key areas for research leap from the page on reading his viewpoint. First, there is the occident-centric question of how western multinationals and economies can respond to this “threat”. Second, there are the very interesting strategic challenges facing the EMMs themselves, as they seek to emancipate themselves from traditional sources of competitive advantage (such as low-domestic labour costs) and go head-to-head with well-entrenched western multinationals in the global market-place.
The first of the peer-reviewed articles in this issue, by Robert Gee, Graham Coates and Mike Nicholson of Durham University, provides an opportunity for us to reflect on the state of knowledge in the field of customer loyalty and CRM. Gee and his colleagues provide us with an extensive review of the literature, and ask us to revisit some of the old questions in this field questions that have, perhaps, never been answered entirely satisfactorily, owing to the unquestioning assumption that customer loyalty must be “a good thing”. Does customer satisfaction lead to customer retention? What are the factors that cause a customer to defect? What is the relationship between customer loyalty and profitability? In one very handy article, Gee and colleagues provide us with an up-to-date evaluation of these and other important questions.
In the next article, Nick Sevdalis (Imperial College, London), Flora Kokkinaki (Athens University of Economics and Business), and Nigel Harvey (University College, London) apply concepts from the psychological theory of “inaction inertia” to the field of consumer behaviour generally, and to the topic of price promotions specifically. If you have ever decided not to buy something because you were aware that you had missed out on a no longer available “special offer”, then you have experienced inaction inertia. So, getting a “15 issues for the price of 12” on a new magazine subscription might seem like a great deal, until you discover that up until last week you could have got “50 per cent off the regular subscription price”. And yet, according to Sevdalis and colleagues, consumers over-estimate the “regret” that they would feel if they went ahead with the purchase knowing that they had missed out on a better deal. Some interesting implications for designing price promotions and associated marketing communications messages emerge from this discussion.
The dedicated empiricists among you may have noticed that we have got this far without mentioning any original data gathering, so it will be relief to you to find out that Paul Harrigan, Elaine Ramsey and Patrick Ibbotson (University of Ulster) present the results of an empirical study of small businesses in Northern Ireland. The focus of their study is e-CRM, and the key question that they address is the extent to which small businesses in Northern Ireland are making effective use of internet technology to develop and manage customer relationships. Although it is a fairly small-scale exploratory study, it nevertheless provides a number of interesting insights and points the way for larger-scale empirical research.
From issues to do with e-CRM in Northern Ireland, we switch to consideration of the challenges facing a large Norwegian salmon-farming business in addressing the potentially lucrative markets opening up in Eastern Europe. T. C. Melewar (Brunel University), Helene Mui of the Norwegian Tax Office), Suraksha Gupta (also Brunel) and Joseann Knight (University of the West Indies) have written a single-company case study that explains how the expansion of the EU to include several new East European nations raises interesting marketing issues for a Norwegian salmon farmer, even though, of course, Norway is not itself a member of the EU. The case study raises several interesting issues about the marketing of food products into the new EU member states of Eastern Europe.
The final article for this issue, by Mehmet Köksal of the American University of Beirut, uses data from Turkish companies to explore the relationship between export marketing research and export performance. The internet crops up again in this paper, since it turns out to be the most common method that Turkish exporters use to obtain marketing information for their exporting activities. Once again, it is refreshing to see in the pages of MIP an article based on data that originate from somewhere other than North America or Western Europe. Let us congratulate those scholars who develop interesting articles based on data from emerging and developing economies. If we take seriously the arguments presented by Fan in his viewpoint article in this issue, and surely we must, then it is vitally important that marketing scholars should raise their myopic view from North America and Western Europe, and bring into focus the important developments that are occurring elsewhere in the world.