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This special volume of Advances in International Marketing is focused on international marketing channels. Specifically, it explores substantive issues relating to the role of foreign intermediaries in export channels. Independent distributors or agents are commonly engaged by exporting manufacturers, yet academic research in this area is very limited. We are delighted to feature the latest research findings and insights on this topic contributed by authoritative colleagues from around the world. It is guest edited by Carl Author Solberg of BI Norwegian School of Management.
In later years a number of articles have been published on the issue of exporter–importer relations either from the exporter viewpoint (Bello & Gilliland, 1997; Mortanges…
In later years a number of articles have been published on the issue of exporter–importer relations either from the exporter viewpoint (Bello & Gilliland, 1997; Mortanges & Vossen, 2000; Solberg & Nes, 2002; Bello, Christitan & Li, 2003; Zhang, Cavusgil & Roath, 2003) or from the importer perspective (Lye, 1998; Skarmeas & Katsikeas, 2001; Skarmeas, katsikeas, & Schlegelmilch. 2002). The main focus has been on how to develop relations with and control of the foreign partner. Taking a principal-agent view of the channel management issues, Bello and Gilliland (1997) suggest a model where they test how unilateral (through process control or outcome control) and bilateral governance structures (flexibility) are being influenced by a number of antecedents, and how they in their turn impact on exporter performance. Process control may be described as the principal's influence on the way in which distributors/subsidiaries carry out the marketing activities (advertising, sales calls, etc), whereas with outcome control the firm is content with controlling the result of these activities (profit, sales volume, market share, etc). They found that outcome control and flexibility of the trading partners correlate positively with performance, whereas no significant relationships were established between process control and performance. Other models have later been introduced, where the effects of relational controls or relational norms have been explored (Bello et al. 2003; Zhang et al. 2003).
This part contains four papers. Even though this volume of AIM primarily concerns exporter–intermediary relations, the first two contributions deal with channel choice and partner selection. The first chapter by Kent Eriksson, Jukka Hohenthal and Jessica Lindbergh, “SME export channel choice in international markets”, tests some of the fundamental factors proposed by the IP model explaining choice of entry mode (accumulation of knowledge of foreign markets determining foreign operation modes). Later developments of the model claim that experience and knowledge of local business relationships are also essential elements of the IP model. Whereas the IP model has been found to hold well for incremental resource commitments, it has – in contrast to transaction-cost theories – produced mixed results concerning its ability to explain operation modes. The authors present findings from research in 494 firms from Sweden, Denmark and New Zealand: factors included in the initial explanation of the IP model explain choice of channel, but later developments of the model do not. Implications are that the foreign market knowledge is, and that more incremental experiential knowledge accumulation is not relevant for export channel choice as regards integrated or non-integrated channel. The results show that for Small and Medium Sized Businesses (SMEs), expected market growth lead to use of integrated channels. Integrated channels make it possible to reap more of the profits from a growing market and to learn faster about what is going on in the market. They also found that use of integrated channels is correlated with cultural distance, contradicting the findings of Johanson and Vahlne (1977) and Kogut and Singh (1988). The IP model therefore offers a rather weak explanation of choice of integrated channel.
This paper investigates the role of the foreign local middleman in the information flows between the market and the exporter. Whereas a number of studies have examined the…
This paper investigates the role of the foreign local middleman in the information flows between the market and the exporter. Whereas a number of studies have examined the information behaviour of exporters (Benito, Carl, & Lawrence, 1993; McAuley, 1993; Hart, Webb, & Jones, 1994; Diamantopoulos og Souchon, 1996, 1997, 1998), limited attention has been given to the role of the local foreign partner1 in this context. Once established in a market with a foreign intermediary as a partner, there are at least two reasons why information is needed by the exporter. First, the scope as well as the extent of information needed will depend upon the functional “division of labour” between the exporter and the middleman. The less responsibility left to the partner the more information is needed by the exporter to make appropriate decisions. Second, the exporter may want information to control the performance of the partner. Fear of opportunistic behaviour is the driving force in the latter case.
In an international setting, the potential conflict between the trading partners is thought to be more acute than in the domestic market, as cultural distance and ensuing…
In an international setting, the potential conflict between the trading partners is thought to be more acute than in the domestic market, as cultural distance and ensuing misunderstandings make trading relations more complicated and demanding: the international marketer is confronted with the challenges of not only understanding the culture but also interpreting the local market information. This situation is often aggravated by limited resources put into the international marketing endeavour by the marketer.
The purpose of this paper is to seek answers to the question of the impact of different classes of strategy (generic and international) on firm performance in…
The purpose of this paper is to seek answers to the question of the impact of different classes of strategy (generic and international) on firm performance in international markets.
Survey of 213 British SME exporters, using EQS.
The paper concludes that Porter's generic strategies have both a direct and an indirect impact through international marketing strategies on firm performance, and that the combined impact of the two levels yields better returns than either of them individually. Furthermore, it questions the wisdom of a stepwise approach to international markets and highlights the importance of a challenger strategy.
This research is limited to British SMEs and needs to be supplemented by research from other countries. Also, it explores the effect of only a limited number of confirmed international marketing strategies, excluding for instance the standardisation construct – a key construct in international marketing.
Managers may derive guidance in their planning by applying the model and the findings in their own deliberations.
Little agreement has been reached as to the impact of different international marketing strategies, let alone the classification of strategies themselves. This paper analyses firm strategy in two levels – generic strategies and five groups of international marketing strategies.
This paper studies the moderating effect of industry structure on strategy-performance relationships in international markets.
We have carried out a survey among a sample of German, Norwegian and Singaporean small and medium sized firms, and test – using structural equation modelling (EQS) – four hypotheses founded in industrial organisation,
We find that industry structure indeed matters. The general picture is that cautious internationalisation strategies are more effective in fragmented industries than in concentrated industries. Also, with somewhat more nuance, global marketing strategies – such as standardisation and integration – seem by and large to be more effective in concentrated industries than in fragmented industries.
The operationalisation of industry structure in an international context is challenging and we have deviated from the traditional Herfindahl–Hirschman Index. This may be a limitation but we also consider it a strength, given the weaknesses of this index in an international setting. The study is cross-sectional and should ideally follow each firm over time, again a challenging endeavour.
Despite a considerable amount of studies on strategy – performance relationships in international markets, there is no general agreement on the topic. We argue that a contingency approach needs to be taken, and that industry structure is one important factor not yet analysed.