The marketing/entrepreneurship interface

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 1 September 2004



Crick, D. (2004), "The marketing/entrepreneurship interface", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 7 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The marketing/entrepreneurship interface

About the Guest EditorAfter six years working in the defence industry, David Crick taught at Leicester Polytechnic, University of Strathclyde, University of Leicester, and De Montfort University before commencing his present position at the University of Central England Business School. He has published a number of conference papers at the marketing/entrepreneurship interface and in journals such as Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, International Business Review, International Marketing Review, Journal of Business Venturing, Journal of International Marketing, Journal of Small Business Management and Small Business Economics.

The marketing/entrepreneurship interface

The complementary themes that link the articles in this special issue are their positioning at the interface between the disciplines of marketing and entrepreneurship and their application of qualitative research design and methods. Interest in the marketing/entrepreneurship interface is not new. A symposium has been held since the early 1980s prior to the annual Summer American Marketing Association (AMA) Conference in the USA. More recently, a similar special interest group (SIG) symposium of the Academy of Marketing (AM) has been held each January in the UK. Additionally, there have been dedicated tracks at other conferences around the world. At these events, cognate researchers from a number of countries have the opportunity to discuss their research. A number of positive outputs have followed from these events including collaborative projects and publications, several special editions of journals, and edited books from conferences have been published at the marketing/entrepreneurship interface. Additionally, a dedicated journal (Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship) has emerged.

Debate has arisen concerning how distinct the topic areas actually are. For example, Collinson (2002, p. 337) suggests: “the marketing/entrepreneurship interface SIG emerged from the two very distinct disciplines of marketing and entrepreneurship respectively”. She proceeds to point out that “researchers working in these two fields recognised that there were many areas of commonality and convergence between the two subject areas”.

This debate is important given that depending on the definitions of marketing and entrepreneurship authors choose to adopt, some would argue that the differences are rather quite small. Taking the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s ( definition – marketing is “the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements, profitably”. Arguably, this overlaps with the view of Shane and Venkataraman (2000), who argue: “entrepreneurship is concerned with the discovery and exploitation of profitable opportunities”. Certain researchers believe that both disciplines are concerned with key issues that include a proactive and innovative stance, identification of customers’ needs (opportunities) and satisfying them at a profit (exploiting the identified opportunities), plus a level of risk taking. Therefore, the difference between the disciplines may not be that great in reality (Hills and LaForge, 1992).

Behaviour at the marketing/entrepreneurship interface is not restricted to smaller sized firms; infact some larger firms feature in this special edition. Perhaps the greatest differences lie in the manner in which small firms run by an entrepreneur or limited team undertake marketing activities in comparison to their larger counterparts due to issues such as limited managerial experience and resources (Stokes, 1995; McCartan-Quinn and Carson, 2003). Interestingly, the methodological stance adopted by researchers in understanding aspects of behaviour at the interface has been debated.

Hill (1999, p. 56) highlights a perceived divide between researchers adopting different methodological stances. Quoting from a conversation with a well-known advocate of positivism, he notes “qualitative research is too subjective. Why should I believe you?” Even so, positive features of qualitative research are widely acknowledged, in particular, approaches that are able to uncover the ‘how’ and ‘why’ type data at the interface (see, for example, Yin, 1989; Easterby-Smith et al., 1994; Carson and Coviello, 1996). Indeed, it has been suggested that a typical lack of published information (shareholder reports, commercial analyses, etc.), poor recording of internal data and a marked reluctance of entrepreneurs to divulge commercially sensitive information also make other forms of enquiry particularly problematic (Carson et al., 1995). A qualitative approach has the advantage that a statistically representative sample of firms does not always have to be selected. Eisenhardt (1989) suggests that the random selection (of cases) is neither necessary nor preferable, suggesting that “extreme examples” are most appropriate when seeking to extend theory.

This special issue contains six articles addressing particular aspects of qualitative research. In the first article by Beverland and Lockshin attention is focused on the wine industry with a case study. Their findings indicate that firms can benefit from constant actions, but need to be guided by positioning values that are diffused into an organisational culture, primarily via the actions of the leader.

In the second article, Chaudhry and Crick argue that in work at the marketing/entrepreneurship interface, while not always possible, it is often useful to have “named” rather than anonymous case studies in order that practitioners can relate to the findings. A case study is developed of a “successful” Asian entrepreneur from a study into ten of the top 100 richest Asians in the UK and serves as a vehicle by which to demonstrate some of the “how” and “why” decisions influencing performance.

Shaw provides the third article that investigates a growing area of interest, namely social enterprises; it debates the extent to which they can be considered to be entrepreneurial. It has been widely reported in newspapers that the current (at the time of writing) Secretary of State at the Department of Trade & Industry is an advocate of creating social enterprises and therefore it is certainly an area of interest to policy makers in the UK. It is hoped that this article may provide the opportunity for international research that develops this relatively under researched topic further.

The fourth article is by O’Donnell and this reports on one aspect of a larger study into how entrepreneurs do business and focuses on developing an understanding of the process of small firm networking. This topic is relevant at the interface since there is a need for policy makers to understand how to assist entrepreneurs in their networking activities, particularly at early stages of development when their business and social networks are likely to be more limited than at later stages of development.

Building on the theme of networking, the fifth article is by Wilson and Stokes and they provide an investigation of entrepreneurial behaviour in the music industry. They argue that networks are important since entrepreneurs in the sector are not directly involved in marketing to customers, but rather networks that control the resources necessary to support entrepreneurial ventures. This links to the topic of relationship marketing where implications from the study are discussed.

The issue of relationship marketing provides the background against which the sixth article, written by Zontanos and Anderson builds on. Specifically, by employing participant observation of a period of time, a mini case study is developed, leading to the suggestion that relationship marketing might be viewed as a facet of entrepreneurship.

The underlying theme throughout the articles in this special edition is an investigation of behaviour at the marketing/entrepreneurship interface using qualitative methodological approaches irrespective of the size and number of firms under investigation. The aim is to offer areas for further investigation on which other studies can build. These areas range from the development of named rather than anonymous case studies that can be used as a teaching vehicle to encourage future entrepreneurial actions, through to uncovering specific aspects of entrepreneurial behaviour such as networks and relationship marketing. In particular, opportunities arise for collaborative, including cross-national, research.

David CrickE-mail:


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