Getting Better at Sensemaking: Volume 9

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Table of contents

(18 chapters)

There has lately been increasing discussion revolving around the emerging concepts of organizational competencies, business processes and industrial networks among both academic researchers and practitioners in various fields of management. In our opinion, there should be a systematic aim to bring together the new view of interorganizational business reality offered by the network approach and some basic ideas related to the concepts of organizational competencies and business processes. This could be one way to reach a more complete understanding of the occurrence of competence-based business processes within the relevant network context. On the other hand, this kind of synthesis might prove useful in making the network approach more practically oriented and applicable in real-life organizations. The purpose of this chapter is to introduce an integrative approach to the study of competence-based business processes primarily through the application of concepts and ideas of the network approach. First, key ideas and concepts related to the above-mentioned three theoretical perspectives are discussed and elaborated. Second, an integrative framework is proposed through which an empirical case involving the long-term development of competence-based business processes within industrial networks can be analyzed. Third, the framework is applied empirically in a longitudinal case study of Valmet Inc., a Finnish manufacturer which developed during the post-war period from a producer of weapons to the world's leading producer of paper machines. Fourth, theoretical and managerial implications are put forward on the basis of the authors' understanding gained during the research process.

This paper deals with marketing change processes. It explores a key theoretical and practical problem in marketing; how to study and understand the management of marketing change processes. The focus is on the interplay between longitudinal, strategic changes in marketing operations and the moving contexts in which they emerge. On theoretical grounds and based on a theoretical review, a number of perspectives on marketing change processes are presented in the paper. In conclusion, marketing change episodes are viewed as embedded in a set of concurrent change processes. They are also part of marketing system transitions, building on, while breaking with, the structures of prior changes, moving toward new states of functioning. Marketing change episodes are also viewed as embedded in more long-term, historical processes of change. Putting in focus the marketing change processes, the paper embraces the idea of an inseparable relationship between change and stability, and of a dynamic interplay between marketing change agency and moving contexts.

While it is vital that market research information should be accurate, other criteria are also important in evaluating the success of a market research project. Was the information also timely, relevant, and unique? Much effort in marketing research is devoted to enhancing research accuracy, an objective that is primarily met by improving the technical design of research instruments and analytical methods. The central argument of this chapter is that timeliness, relevance, and uniqueness can be improved by more effective management of the relationship between the user of research (the client) and the provider (the agency).

This paper focuses on the use of qualitative studies in business to business research. It highlights some of the differences and similarities between qualitative methods to illustrate the methodological consequences of choosing one method in preference to another. Three methods are presented: The Case Study Method, Grounded Theory, and the Humanistic Inquiry. A general presentation of each of the methods is followed by a description of their use in practice—how is research planned and performed according to each method? Finally, a critical review of the three methods is made. it is emphasized that choice and use of qualitative method must be consistent with the problem, the type of explanation to be used, and the theory in use. Further, it is demonstrated how the choice of method will have crucial consequences for the direction and conclusion of a study. To use qualitative methods in business to business studies the researcher must meet critical methodological demands; why a method is chosen, how it can be used, and in which way it is possible to triangulate with other methods.

Concentrating on package deals and treating the process of international business negotiation as a problem-solving process, this paper analyzes the negotiations between Swedish firms (as sellers) and firms in India and Nigeria as buyer firms. The theoretical framework is derived from Ghauri 1983 and 1986, and Sawyer and Guetzkow's model of negotiation. The two cases with developing nations as buyers are compared with a case within Sweden where both the buyer and the seller came from Sweden. The role of the respective government and environmental differences emerge as the paramount factors with either maximum or minimum influence on the process of negotiation itself in the context of project sales. The study presents a number of propositions in conclusion and suggests some implications.

How can companies best integrate their marketing function with research and development? As product life-cycles and development cycles become ever shorter, and as increasing proportions of R&D are outsourced, linking the marketplace with the laboratory becomes both crucially important and increasingly difficult, especially for trans-national companies whose R&D sites are distant from markets and marketing operations. This case study examines the integration of marketing and R&D in the context of the free IBM Internet software, “Mapuccino”TM (available at IBM's corporate Website and known internally as “WebCutter”), developed at IBM's Haifa Research Laboratory in Israel.

Case research has typically been criticized as lacking objectivity and methodological rigor. It has, therefore, taken a back seat to more quantitative methods like survey and experimental methods when conducting business-to-business research. However, many of the issues of importance to business-to-business research take place in a rich and theoretically important context. When a phenomenon of interest takes place within a complex context, case research is often the most appropriate means to pursue investigation. Thus, in order to enhance the legitimacy of case research, a systematic case methodology is developed that addresses the traditional criticisms. Central to this method are three critical aspects. First, all research must begin with theory development. Second, the research design must be logical and systematic. Third, findings must be independently evaluated. By designing research projects around these aspects, case studies can provide marketers with one more tool to investigate business-to-business marketing, its processes, and the complex environment in which it operates. Specifically, case research is thought to be beneficial is studying network systems, international business-to-business marketing, and the industrial new product development processes.

This paper proposes and tests a set of measures to operationalize customer value in a business-to-business context. A classification of 13 drivers encapsulating the two dimensions of customer perceived value, benefit, and sacrifice is suggested which can act as the basis for the measurement of customer perceived value relevant to most business-to-business environments involving products, services, and relationships. First, the construct is circumscribed by raising five theoretical questions; then, it is conceptualized in terms of two dimensions, benefit and sacrifice, and 13 product-, service- and relationship-related drivers. Operational indicators are developed for each driver and tested with 209 organizational customers. An evaluation of the measurement properties within an analysis of covariance structure framework reveals that the operational measures developed satisfy to a high degree the criteria for unidimensionality, reliability and validity. Results suggest that 13 drivers underpin an understanding of the customer's value requirements in a business exchange.

Researchers and practitioners of international market entry typically have a difficult task obtaining and processing requisite information to evaluate potential opportunities and risks. Essential analysis is often confounded by inappropriate measures of input requirements, inadequately defined information categories, and the overall complex nature of the decision process. In partial response to these issues, this research introduces a three-stage guiding framework for market-entry decision and presents alternative methodologies for country risk assessment, a principal component in the final stage. A variety of discrete methods are included such as subjective interaction by deliberating experts, scoring models, the analytic hierarchy process, simulation, and statistical designs using regression or factor analysis. New analytic rule-based nondiscrete techniques utilizing fuzzy logic are also introduced. Fuzzy logic simulates natural discourse and analogical reasoning through inference about nebulous facts and inexact concepts, using rules that do not require a perfect match between input data and their antecedental values in order to fire. It provides formal mathematical structure for representing, evaluating, and interpreting linguistic context. It is especially useful for handling problematical issues such as imprecise data, ambiguous information, vague meanings of terms, and inconsistent analyses that characterize the general market-entry problem and risk assessment in particular. Numerical examples demonstrate how discrete and fuzzy models work to integrate political, social, and financial risks.

This paper identifies an implicit importer buying behavior model that is suggested by import decision studies and reviews contextual factors that distinguish international sourcing from its domestic counterpart. We then critique this implicit model and discuss its major shortcoming, namely, the failure to take into account the cognitive processes that influence vendor search and evaluation patterns. Drawing on the cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence literatures, this paper proposes an alternative model of importer buying behavior that explicitly accounts for the use of cognitive heuristics and presents a series of testable research propositions. Theoretical and managerial implications are also discussed.

Formalized business-to-business (corporate) barter is relatively new to the Australian business marketing and purchasing landscape. This is the first empirical study reported on business-to-business barter in Australia. Business-to-business barter operates through trade exchanges which centralize barter transactions in a highly organized and transparent manner. Computer technologies have facilitated the growth and sophistication of this exchange system. It appears to becoming institutionalized in Australia within and alongside the orthodox prices-mediated market regime. Business-to-business barter might be seen as an innovation on a very old fundamental in exchange that has re-emerged in response to deficiencies in the orthodox system.This chapter reports research on the largest of Australia's barter trade exchanges, Bartercard. Bartercard is not only a national exchange within Australia as it also has begun to internationalize its operations. A national mail survey of Bartercard members was conducted to understand more of this form of business-to-business enterprise. Issues investigated include: benefits of membership, limitations of the system, “pricing” within the system, the transaction coordination mechanism, factors leading to success of the system and its likelihood of longevity. Demographics of surveyed firms are reported. The results indicate that there are significant benefits for members but that trading in the system has limitations which necessitate a reliance on the orthodox prices-mediated system for the larger part of the firm's business activity. It does appear that a membership consociation exists within the system which facilitates the transaction mediation. The organizational nature of the trade exchange investigated, and its management, will ensure continuation of its members' business barter trade regardless of variations in the macroeconomics of Australia's economy. Avenues for enterprising research are uncovered.

In this paper we present some results of our exploratory research about Hungarian tender buyers activity and culture. We try to formulate some questions for future research. Hungarian bidding habits and behavior are not yet deeply researched. The goal of this pilot study is to take a snapshot of the Hungarian tendering processes from the point of view of the seller-buyer interaction. Content analysis has been chosen as the methodological framework because of its potential for examining not well structured, symbolic, mainly behavioral or qualitative data. The most important findings drawn from analysing 515 Hungarian calls for tender published in May and June 1996 are as follows: • ⊎buyers use a tendering process mainly if it is obligatory by law; • ⊎vernmental and institutional buyers represent more than 75 percent of bids; • ⊎prequalification tenders have a law rate; • ⊎projects are the most frequented objects of bids

Politics tends to be an ugly word in management and business, yet most issues concerning strategic buying decisions, or any strategic decisions, involve political behavior. Although the notion of political buying is by no means new, there do not exist many suggestions on how the marketer should handle “politicking buyers.” The paper provides simple diagnostic tools for organizational marketers to help them to evaluate the potential of facing a political buying situation, to identify the power players, and to examine their relative influence on the decision process. Typical forms of political behavior are described, and suggestions for handling political buying are given.

The main body of research on industrial marketing over the last 20 years has concentrated on giving a relational framework to an activity which had previously been understood to be essentially transactional. Therefore, the management of business relationships is today considered as a critical task on which a company's very existence depends. Consequently, allotting limited company resources between several relationships has become a major task for marketers who must decide how to divide and allot time and money for customers and prospective customers. In this renewed context, the portfolio concept for supplier-customer relationships are of a continuous nature and when the boundaries of the customer are easy to delimit. In order to widen the scope of their relevance, we propose to re-embed the supplier-customer relationship into the network of business actors that influences it and to be very careful in defining who is the customer.

In the following contribution, we examine ingredient branding as an increasingly widespread form of market communication. Ingredient branding can be defined as “strategic branding for production goods such as components, raw materials, auxiliary materials and substances … which later form part of an end product.” Ingredient branding therefore aims at the “promotion of a brand within a brand to the enduser.” Currently, this is not yet a very common marketing concept, but it is becoming increasingly important. It can be considered as belonging to business-to-business marketing or the consumer goods marketing field. On the basis of the Agency Theory we show that one important prerequisite for a successful implementation of ingredient branding is the appropriate design of the exchange relationships between cooperation partners of consecutive levels in the market and value chain. The point of departure here is mainly the incentive and controlling systems which govern the behavior of companies cooperating in ingredient branding. We demonstrate other prerequisites and success factors for successful ingredient branding concepts with the aid of well-known examples, such as the Intel Inside or the NutraSweet campaigns.

Business-to-business marketing research deals with a variety of topics which require different qualitative and quantitative research approaches. Although there may be situations where either a qualitative or a quantitative approach is sufficient, in many cases it is necessary to combine qualitative and quantitative techniques in order to gain all information necessary for decision making. This paper illustrates the integration of qualitative and quantitative research approaches on the basis of a marketing research project for innovative sewer systems.

Cover of Getting Better at Sensemaking
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Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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