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Network theory is becoming increasingly popular as a means of describing marketing in SMEs, stemming from the growing recognition that traditional marketing theories are…
Network theory is becoming increasingly popular as a means of describing marketing in SMEs, stemming from the growing recognition that traditional marketing theories are somewhat inappropriate to the small firm. Of the research carried out to date, however, the greater part has employed quantitative methods. Current thought is that the concepts of networks and networking could be better investigated using more qualitative methods, and an appropriate methodology is suggested. This article describes an ongoing qualitative study which aims to discover how small firms use networks to make marketing decisions. The study has taken the form of semi‐structured interviews with owners and senior executives of 60 small companies across a wide array of industries in Northern Ireland. The key findings of the study are discussed together with plans for future research.
The paper uses a questionnaire and a theoretical model of bank‐customer interaction preferences as the basis for examining the perceptions of retail bank customers…
The paper uses a questionnaire and a theoretical model of bank‐customer interaction preferences as the basis for examining the perceptions of retail bank customers regarding the use of remote delivery channels and the extent to which they still value traditional branch‐based face‐to‐face interactions. The empirical evidence suggests that despite the increase in remote banking, retail bank customers still place significantly greater emphasis on face‐to‐face contact. The implications of this finding are that if banks want to encourage widespread customer adoption of remote banking they must better understand customer attitudes towards alternative delivery channels and use this information to educate their customers on the tangible service benefits which emanate from remote delivery.
The concept of co‐operation amongst competitors has been considered for some time in the marketing literature generally, and in the small firm marketing literature…
The concept of co‐operation amongst competitors has been considered for some time in the marketing literature generally, and in the small firm marketing literature specifically. However, despite the recognition that small firms do co‐operate, there has been comparatively little attention paid to the ways in which such co‐operation takes place. Co‐operation amongst small firms tends to be only conceptualised as a group of competitors banding together to create a market presence and compete against larger, more established firms. Based on a series of in‐depth interviews with owner‐managers of small firms in a wide array of industry sectors, this paper examines the relationships that small firm owner‐managers maintain with their competitors. Specifically it reports that cooperation between competitors takes place at various levels with so‐called joint venture arrangements such as that described above, representing just one type of co‐operative behaviour. It further highlights the circumstances where co‐operation is likely to occur and how this co‐operation is manifest by examining the motivations for co‐operation and expected and actual outcomes. It also discusses the factors which may preclude cooperation between small firms and their competitors. Such factors include the nature of the industry sector, the level of competition in the market, the size of the competing firms, the age of the small firm, the existence of an association that represents the industry, the perceived level of professionalism within the industry and trust amongst firms.
In many peripheral regional economies, the decline in indigenous industries has shifted the focus of attention onto SMEs. With a small firm base and a small local market…
In many peripheral regional economies, the decline in indigenous industries has shifted the focus of attention onto SMEs. With a small firm base and a small local market, an economic priority in a regional economy is to instigate growth. In this context exporting is an essential growth strategy for SMEs. Therefore, the focus of this study was to understand what stimulates SME entrepreneurs to initiate export marketing, examine the difficulties and problems they encounter and ascertain what marketing activities can be used to overcome these and ensure their success in export marketing. In pursuing these issues, the findings illustrate the value of networking as an aid for entrepreneurial exporting activities. The overall conclusion of this study was that SME entrepreneurs were moving rapidly from initial stimulation to their current export positions, encountering a variety of difficulties and problems. In order to overcome these problems SME entrepreneurs used networking extensively and responded to opportunities by benefiting from their inherent flexibility and developing marketing activities to suit specific export markets.
It is acknowledged that while there is a paucity of marketing research focusing on small firms relative to larger firms, a significant contribution to this field has been…
It is acknowledged that while there is a paucity of marketing research focusing on small firms relative to larger firms, a significant contribution to this field has been made in recent years. However, while such research has proved useful, it remains quite disparate, and gleaning a current understanding of how small firms market their goods and services, is difficult. This paper aims to produce an empirically validated framework of small firm marketing activities.
A qualitative cross‐sectoral study of small firm marketing was undertaken. Semi‐structured, in‐depth interviews were conducted with 30 small firm owner‐managers. A literature derived, conceptual framework provided the basis for the interview guide.
The study confirmed that the nine key themes highlighted by a critical review of the literature represented the marketing practices in small firms. It offered some refinement to specific characteristics and activities within the themes and so offered an empirically supported model of small firm marketing.
It is hoped that future research can use the framework as a means of demonstrating how various factors contribute to small firm marketing activities and indeed, offer further refinement and embellishment of the overall framework. This framework represents a baseline against which the effects of newly emerging phenomena can be assessed.
While much research has been undertaken in the field of small firm marketing, few attempts have been made to address the question: what are the key marketing activities in which small firms engage? This paper addresses this question and offers a flexible, cross‐sectoral representation of marketing practices in small firms.
Small business risk is a particularly pertinent issue for researchers as there is a strong association between small business owner‐managers/entrepreneurs and risk by…
Small business risk is a particularly pertinent issue for researchers as there is a strong association between small business owner‐managers/entrepreneurs and risk by virtue of the high failure rates of small firms. The objective of this study was to uncover situations encountered by owner‐managers/entrepreneurs that they perceive to involve an element of risk. More importantly, it seeks to understand how owner‐managers behave when faced with such “risky” situations. A qualitative study was undertaken with owner‐managers of small firms operating in a wide spectrum of industry settings. While great variation was encountered between the entrepreneurs, areas of commonality were distilled and it was shown that the key situations owner‐managers deemed to be risky were those pertaining to cash flow, company size, entering new markets or new areas of business, and entrusting staff with responsibilities. Furthermore, it was shown that the two key tools used to manage these risky situations were the use of managerial competencies and networking.
For some time, researchers at the marketing/entrepreneurship interface have employed the concepts of networks and networking as a means of exploring how entrepreneurs “do business”. More recently, attempts have been made to show how the process of networking contributes to small firm marketing. The overall research study on which this paper is based aimed to show how networking contributes to marketing. This paper focuses on a specific objective of the overall research study, namely an understanding of the process of small firm networking. It reviews previous research into the concept of networking and demonstrates how the process of networking can be captured as a number of dimensions along which entrepreneurial networking may vary. The paper then explains that while previous research has allowed a conceptual framework of small firm networking to be developed, further empirical research is merited and an entirely appropriate type of research is of a qualitative nature.
Technological advances have made a significant impact on the banking sector in recent years, with a key development being the introduction of technological and remote…
Technological advances have made a significant impact on the banking sector in recent years, with a key development being the introduction of technological and remote channels of interaction. While some research has been undertaken to establish the level of acceptance by customers of these channels, most of this research has examined retail banking customers’ attitudes to, and adoption of, remote interaction channels. This paper reports the findings of a study which has investigated channel preferences amongst corporate customers of a leading retail and corporate bank in the UK. Specifically, it seeks to differentiate between smaller business customers and larger customers. The key findings are that all customers prefer personalised interaction and that smaller customers, who are generally less profitable for banks than large clients, show relatively less willingness to embrace technological means of communication and to insist on personal interaction with their bank.
Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) is regarded as an important means of employment and knowledge creation in many economies. This study investigates the motivations…
Inward foreign direct investment (FDI) is regarded as an important means of employment and knowledge creation in many economies. This study investigates the motivations and satisfaction levels associated with FDI in two economies that are increasingly recognising the benefits of inward investment: Northern Ireland and Bahrain. Although different in may respects, these two regions share similar economic and political characteristics and this study compares the perceptions of the managing directors of foreign companies who have chosen to invest in either of the two regions. It reports that many expected findings were borne out by the study but also highlights pertinent findings that were not anticipated and accordingly that may be of interest to government bodies charged with the responsibility of attracting inward investment.
The network construct is in common usage in entrepreneurship research. However while the increasing use of the construct has furthered our understanding of the phenomenon…
The network construct is in common usage in entrepreneurship research. However while the increasing use of the construct has furthered our understanding of the phenomenon of entrepreneurship, its popularity has sometimes led to misapplication and inconsistent research findings. Traces the development of the network concept in the two strands of research that have dominated this field, namely inter‐organisational networks and the entrepreneur’s personal network. Discusses the specific contexts in which these two branches have received most attention. Proposes that several key areas have been relatively neglected and offers direction for future research which would serve to improve our understanding of the entrepreneurial process.