Research on International Service Marketing: A state of the Art: Volume 15


Table of contents

(11 chapters)

This special volume of Advances in International Marketing is devoted to exploring new perspectives on international service marketing – a topic of great interest to scholars and practitioners of international marketing. It is guest edited by Pieter Pauwels and Ko de Ruyter, both of Maastricht University.

Today, services officially represent more than 22% (or about USD 3 trillion) of world trade and are the fastest growing sector of world trade for the last two decades (OECD, 2004; WTO, 2001). Optimist analysts believe that services will reach 50% of world trade by 2020 (Hibbert, 2003). Nearly half of the 100 biggest multinationals are service firms with an average revenue of over USD 50 million in 1997 (Hibbert, 2003; Keillor, Hult & Kandemir, 2004). The American McKinsey and Company in management consulting, the Danish ISS in facility management and the Dutch VNU in business information illustrate how service firms may succeed in gaining and holding a global dominant position. On top of the official service economy, the (hidden) service component of product markets is responsible for a major and increasing part of the total value of the world merchandise trade (Brown et al., 2001; Grönroos, 1990). Illustrative in this respect is the critical role of the global service systems of the Swedish/Swiss ABB in automation technology and of the American Caterpillar in construction and mining equipment.

Customer relational benefits have been identified as a driving motivation for consumers to engage in long term relationships with service providers. Such benefits can be expected to play a crucial role in the success of service firms when extending their business into other countries and cultures. Most of the previous discussion of relational benefits has been conducted almost exclusively in North-American contexts and has not addressed the impact a nation’s culture may have on the relevance of relational benefits for gaining relationship outcomes such as customer loyalty. The aim of this article is to deepen our understanding of the role of relational benefits in developing long-term relationships with consumers in a cross-cultural context. Specifically, propositions focusing on the moderating role of power distance, individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, and uncertainty avoidance for the benefits-outcomes relationship are developed. The article concludes with a discussion of potential implications for service firms and researchers.

Relationship marketing is not effective in every situation or context. This study investigates the impact of three categories of potential contingency factors on the effectiveness of relationship marketing efforts in a retail services context: demographic characteristics of the consumer (age and gender), personal values of the consumer (social affiliation), and shopping-related consumer characteristics (product category involvement, consumer relationship proneness, and shopping enjoyment). The data relate to more than 1,700 mall intercept personal interviews conducted in the United States, and in two western European countries (the Netherlands and Belgium), covering a wide variety of food and apparel retailers. The found moderating influences were inconsistent across samples, stressing the need for an adapted relationship marketing strategy per country and industry. The results do provide a first indication that relationship marketing efforts are relatively more effective if they are directed at consumers who are young and female, have a high need for social affiliation, and show high levels of product category involvement, consumer relationship proneness, and shopping enjoyment. The results provide a preliminary framework for retailers to optimize the allocation of their relationship marketing budgets.

In this paper, the contaminating role of socially desirable responding (SDR) in the investigation of “dark-side” aspects in international services marketing is examined. The main question to be answered is whether or not relationships between consumer ethnocentrism towards international services and its antecedents are biased by SDR, manifesting itself as impression management by respondents. The results of an empirical study confirm that conscious impression management indeed is likely to represent a serious threat in this type of consumer behavior-related research. The relationship between cultural openness and consumer collectivism on the one hand and consumer ethnocentric tendencies towards foreign services on the other hand was found to be biased by SDR. Such bias, however, could not be found for the other antecedents, namely patriotism and conservatism. This suggests that whether or not respondents engage in impression management depends on the conceptual character of the constructs being studied in international services research. Accordingly, the results have several implications for international services research practice.

The present paper scrutinizes the extant literature on the internationalization process of service providers. It provides an overview of current insights and unresolved issues. The findings of over 100 published studies are structured and summarized under four headings: internationalization motives, country/market selection, entry mode choice, and the profile of service exporters. Although literature is closing the gap with reality, this paper concludes that (empirical) work still lacks sound theoretical bases, and – partially as a consequence – it is largely fragmented and exploratory. Per heading we formulate specific suggestion for better and more focused future research endeavors.

This paper reviews extant contemporary literature in the area of entry mode choice in service firms and analyzes 14 empirical studies conducted in the area. The review is limited to articles which focus specifically on entry mode choice and the determinants of such a choice. The publication time frame covers the period from 1977 to 2003. The review observations in relation to factors such as the origin of the research, the theoretical frameworks underpinning existing entry mode research, methodological approaches and other relevant patterns are presented. The analysis highlights the paucity of empirical research in the area, which in turn has been largely fragmentary and exploratory in nature. It suggests that research sites need to be extended into Europe, alternative research designs need to be considered and the opportunity to conduct some form of collaborative research warrants exploration.

Project business as a mode of operation is currently very prevalent on international business-to-business markets, and project-related services are an important part of most projects. However the way to market these types of services is under-researched in mainstream marketing literature. Therefore, via a multi-lingual literature review, this article scrutinizes four marketing schools for frameworks relevant to the marketing of project-related services: project, services, transaction, and interactive business-to-business marketing. The analysis shows that the project marketing concepts better capture key aspects of marketing project-related services internationally than do the mainstream service marketing concepts. However, the analysis also suggests that a pluralist approach may be useful when marketing of project-related services, as some frameworks from other marketing schools are also suitable. On this basis, suggestions for marketers of project-related services are presented, and a research agenda for academics concerning the study of project-related services both internationally and domestically is suggested.

This paper investigates the internationalization of consulting providers that supply to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, United Nations and Asian Development Bank. Previous research has identified that such clients do play a notable role in the internationalization of some consulting firms, but little empirical research has been undertaken. In this paper, a “network” approach to internationalization is taken, with the findings from an interview study suggesting that while consulting providers “follow” multilateral institutions to new markets, this is only one of several “relationship strategies” that firms use in combination to enter and develop foreign markets.

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Advances in International Marketing
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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