Furthermore, a number of important questions regarding the future of marketing are explored in order to discern the impact of the “new’ economy on the alleged crisis of marketing. The paper is organized as follows. We begin by reviewing the marketing literature to uncover a number of key indicators of marketing crisis. Consistent with Days (1992) assertion that marketing alleged crisis found its roots as early as the beginning of the sass, the paper reviews relevant literature since 1981 and provides representative works in each subsequent decade.
The evidence is grouped into a number of categories and we offer a number of research propositions and avenues for studying the crisis. Particularly, we show how our analysis provides the foundation for an empirical assessment of the crisis. The latter is an important contribution because there is little in the way of empirical substantiation of the crisis (Day 1992), and those empirical studies that do exist tend to focus exclusively on the marketing sub-unit (Homburg, Workman and Groomer 1999).
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What is “Marketing”? Part of the difficulty with the literature on the alleged crisis is that the term “marketing” refers potentially to many different things. In this paper the emphasis is not so much on marketing influence within academic circles but instead on the role of marketing within organizations. Discussions of the role of racketing within organizations generally revolve around two perspectives.
The first is a functional group perspective, which views marketing as an individual and distinct organizational entity, while the second is an activity-based perspective, where marketing is treated as a set of activities undertaken by different people throughout the whole organization (Pierce 1985; Abracadabra 1992; Webster 1992; Workman, Homburg and Grunge 1998). Research has often separated the two approaches; for example, Hunt (1976) takes an activity-based perspective, while Walker and Request 1987) provide an example of the application of a functional group approach.
More recently, the two perspectives have been integrated to a larger extent (Workman, Homburg and Grunge 1998), and this approach is also taken in this paper. Indeed, the marketing literature suggests that marketing relevance may be ignored at all levels, whether as a function or as a set of values integrated throughout the organization. Uncovering the Crisis Concerns have been raised about the disparity between marketing potential contributions to strategy, and its actual strategic impact Abracadabra and Cassandra 1999; Pierce 1998; Webster 1997; Day 1992; Beaklike 1981).
Indeed, claims of a crisis of marketing within organizations provide a stark contrast to the marketing literature’s conviction that marketing should be crucial in charting a firm’s strategic direction (Day 1992). Wind (1996) suggests that marketing can be critical to the success of an organization; this is particularly true in light of evidence of a positive relationship between market orientation and performance ( river and N Slater 1990; Gasworks and Kohl’ 1993; Kohl, Gasworks and Kumar 1993;
Dishpans??, Farley and Webster 1993; Slater and Nearer 2000). There is little doubt that, if superior business performance is the result of a superior ability to understand and satisfy customers??and there is evidence to support this??then marketing has the potential to have a crucial impact on organizational success. In his analysis of the contributions of marketing to strategic management, Beaklike (1981 , p. 31) concluded twenty years ago that, although marketing was merely “one of the business functions”, it was an important one because of its concern with the environment. However, he observed that the contributions of the discipline remained limited, as marketing played no role beyond the provision of concepts and methods that still needed to be imported into the area of management strategy. Nevertheless, more recently marketing scholars have stressed the significance of marketing as “the function of business” (Hackle 1997, p. X). Hence, the tendency is to think of marketing “less as a function and more as a set of values and processes that all functions participate in implementing” (Norman and Rust 1999, p. 180). Changes in the economy and the marketplace in the sass and sass emphasizes the need for a efferent way of thinking about the role of marketing. This new conception of marketing is illustrated by McKenna (1991), who offers a set of principles, the first of which is that “marketing is everything and everything is marketing” (McKenna 1991, p. 8). The marketing literature, it can be seen, does not hesitate to underline the importance of marketing as a discipline, and trumpets loudly the impact that marketing should have on the strategy formulation process as well as on the strategic direction of the organization (Day, Kerri and Abracadabra 1992; Abracadabra and Cassandra 1999). Yet, it has been observed that “traditional marketing is dead in the water” (Pierce 2000, p. ), and that “[t]here are a number of signs that the role of marketing, not simply as a formal organizational function, but more important as a strategic influence, may be weak and growing weaker in some organizations” (Pierce 1998, p. 231). Indeed, despite the rich theoretical and empirical base of marketing strategy (Abracadabra and Cassandra 1999), marketing is often seen as having no significant input into strategy (Shaw 1999), and, as noted, marketing scholars have sent warning signs about marketing strategic failure (Webster 1997).
The problem is expressed well by Sacristans, Sheridan and Fay (1998, p. 3) when they maintain that, “the question is not whether marketing activities are useful and valuable, but why marketing has played such a limited role in the process of strategy formulation”. The suggestion, then, is that a paradoxical situation has emerged. The existence of a new set of environmental trends should have been associated with an increase in the importance and influence of marketing (Doyle 2001; Sheet, Cissoids and Sahara 2000); instead marketing influence is said to be declining (Sacristans, Sheridan and Fay 998).
More fundamentally, those who talk about the crisis find it remarkable, indeed perplexing, that the role and influence of marketing are not aligned with the potential impact that marketing can have at a strategic level. If marketing can be crucial to strategy, and if contemporary environmental trends seem to indicate that it should play an increasingly important role, why then are we surrounded by voices proclaiming a crisis of marketing? The starting point in addressing this question is to analyses and categories the arguments provided in the literature.
Table 1 identifies mom of the prevailing concerns that have been expressed with respect to the role and influence of marketing within organizations. Consistent with Days (1992) assertion that marketing alleged crisis found its roots as early as the beginning of the sass, the table reviews the relevant literature since 1981 and attempts to provide representative works in each subsequent decade. Table Author Doyle (2000) Level of crisis Functional group, activeness’s Activeness’s Symptom of crisis Marketers have lost influence.
They fail to provide expert guidance to top management. New market opportunities and threats are not recognized promptly. Lack of focus on strategic issues and long-term value creation. Marketing perceived to be detached from reality. Marketing literature often of little practical relevance to practitioners. Lack of proper focus on the market and lack of strategic view. Difficulties in isolating the unique contributions of marketing. Lack of clear identity. Pierce (2000) Day and Montgomery (1999) Functional group, Author Shaw (1999) Level of crisis activeness’s Functional group, activeness’s Symptom of crisis
Marketing provides unreliable information and fails to supply credible measures of its impact. Lack of precision. Limited understanding of customers. Poor reputation among functions. Limited influence and generally felt not to be essential. Unclear professional qualifications. Limited impact on business profitability. Tactical rather than strategic. Lack of authority for strategic planning. Limited understanding of the organization. Marketing function in danger of being marginal’s. Confusion regarding the domain of marketing strategy. Limited contributions to the strategy dialogue. Abracadabra and Cassandra (1999)
Sacristans, Sheridan and Fay (1998) Pierce (1998) Webster (1997) Morgan and Pierce (1996) Functional group, activeness’s Functional group, activeness’s Functional group, activeness’s Activeness’s Functional group Difficulties for marketing to identify, measure and communicate to other disciplines and top management the financial value created by marketing activities. Cynicism and criticisms regarding marketing, both from inside and outside (egg customers) the organization. Lack of input into strategic direction of the firm. Marketing failure as strategy. Marketing function has limited involvement in quality strategy.
Lack of understanding of marketing implementation role. Diminution of the strategic role of marketing. Normalization of the contribution of marketing within academic circles. The role of marketing in the strategy dialogue and strategic management has been overlooked by marketing and other disciplines. Normalization of the contribution of marketing within academic circles. Other business functions and disciplines that do not share the assumption that marketing should play the lead role in charting the strategic direction of the organization have eroded marketing strategic influence.
Limited understanding of how marketing people interact Webster (1992) Activeness’s Day, Kerri, Abracadabra (1992) Day (1992) Functional group, activeness’s Request and Walker Functional Author (1987) Level of crisis group Symptom of crisis with people in other functional areas in performing marketing tasks. Limited understanding of the roles assumed by different functions in the development and implementation of strategy, and the interrelationships between marketing and these constituencies. Lack of understanding of marketing role in the goal formulation process.
Unsatisfactory understanding of the technologies, respective and limitations of other functional areas, and limited role as advocate of the marketing concept to these other coalitions within the firm. Despite having the tools and concepts to deal with strategic management issues, marketing is more concerned with short-term tactical issues at a brand or product level. Lack of innovation and entrepreneurship of marketing managers. Productivity of marketing expenditures seem to decrease as marketing costs increase. Marketing managers lack proper understanding of financial decisions and lack bottom-line orientation.
Product management systems are becoming obsolete. Marketing people tend to think alike, to be risk averse and to avoid careers in sales. The acceptance of the marketing concept is incomplete. Hut and Spew (1984) Functional group Anderson (1982) Beaklike (1981) Functional group, activeness’s Functional group, activeness’s Webster (1981) Four Key Dimensions of the Crisis A cursory examination of Table 1 would suggest that there are many different indicators of marketing crisis. Upon closer inspection, however, there is some overlap between the various authors.
For example, Shaw (1999) concern with marketing poor reputation among other business functions shoes Pierce’s (1998) assertion that marketing is the victim of cynicism and criticism. From a different perspective, Doyle (2001) suggests that the lack of an effective unit of analysis to gauge marketing influence has translated into a limited role of marketers in the board room. In the same way, Shaw (1999) warns that marketing needs to develop more credible and effective measures of its impact, and similar contentions are also present in the works of Day and Montgomery (1999), Sacristans, Sheridan and Fay (1998) and Webster (1981).
It is therefore possible to group the wide array of symptoms into distinct categories. We argue that there are four main categories: (1) marketing lack of strategic focus; (2) marketing lack of an understanding of the internal and external environment, and the perception that it is detached from reality; (3) marketing poor reputation and normalization at different levels; and (4) a failure by marketing to measure effectively the performance impact of marketing strategies. Table 2 provides a classification of each author identified in Table 1, according to these four categories.
Table 2 CATEGORIZATION OF THE PREVAILING SYMPTOMS IN THE EXTANT MARKETING LITERATURE Author Type 1 Lack f strategic focus Category of symptom Type 2 Type 3 Poor Poor awareness, reputation, detached marginal reality locations ј ј ј ј ј ј Type 4 Provision of ineffective measures of impact ј Doyle (2000) Pierce (2000) Day and Montgomery (1999) Shaw (1999) Abracadabra and Cassandra (1999) Sacristans, Sheridan and Fay (1998) Pierce (1998) Webster (1997) Morgan and Pierce (1996) Webster (1992) Day, Kerri, Abracadabra (1992) Day (1992) Request and Walker (1987) Hut and Spew (1984) Anderson (1982) Beaklike (1981) Webster (1981) Research Implications of the Current Study The categorization presented above revises a foundation for further research into the alleged crisis of marketing. The starting point could be a content analysis, a qualitative research method that uses an analytical framework to organize data by the frequency of occurrence. Although the technique finds its roots in communication, sociology and Journalism (Barbells 1952), it has also been employed in marketing (Inaccurate and Underdone 1998).
Thematic content analysis, for example, would provide a clear understanding of the degree of inclusion of particular themes within the extant literature (Racial and Sergeant 1995), ND identify the prevalence of each theme. Furthermore, content analysis may yield other important information, such as an understanding of the extent to which the focus of concerns with particular symptoms of the crisis has varied in the course of the last twenty years. More significantly, the process of distillation of the literature into a number of individual dimensions suggests a number of research propositions that can be tested empirically. Organizational perceptions of marketing would provide the data required for such analysis. To obtain this, a qualitative analysis should be carried out to explore the constructs in epithet, clarify problems, and develop specific hypotheses.
Such a qualitative analysis may be in the form of semi-structured intensive interviews in a number of organizations. This research will yield detailed information from informants by employing guided conversation, but also by eliciting choices between alternative answers to preformed questions. The qualitative data can allow for a careful development of measures of the constructs. Indeed, because this research area deals to a large extent with perceptions, it is important to achieve clarity in terms of how the respondents interpret different constructs. For example, to what extent is marketing perceived as an organizational function or as a business philosophy?
Furthermore, a quantitative analysis may employ data from a mailing list of randomly selected companies, chosen from a wide variety of industries. Samples from different countries might be employed, in order to develop a cross-cultural study. A large mailing list would be needed, because response rates from managers at senior levels are typically low. It would be necessary also to obtain responses from a variety of senior managers within each organization in order to contrast the views of marketing managers with those from other functions and with those who are at the apex of the managerial hierarchy. A quantitative study would allow for the empirical testing of a number of propositions about the crisis of marketing.
Our categorization in Table 2 would suggest, as a starting point, the following four propositions: Pl : Marketing insights are readily embraced by other functional areas If marketing aspires to have a significant role in the formulation and implementation of business strategies, it is important that it is viewed positively by other functions within the organization. The interaction of marketing personnel with those in other functional areas has been studied by Request, Orville and Walker (1987), but their focus was on the planning, implementation and evaluation of marketing activities rather than on how marketing managers are perceived at a strategic level. Similarly, Hut and Spec’s (1984) study of the “industrial marketer’s interdisciplinary role” provides a conceptual understanding of marketing interface with manufacturing, R, distribution and technical service.
However, in order to test claims of marketing isolation, it is also important to explore owe and whether marketing knowledge is utilized by other functional areas within the organization. PI: Marketing has strategic focus It is often argued, especially in the management literature, that marketing is generally tactical rather than strategic. It is important, therefore, to test this hypothesis as it represents a measure of marketing’s impact on strategy, and of the extent to which marketing strategy fails to influence strategic decision-making within organizations. PI: Marketing has a clear understanding of the internal and external environment The role of marketing as a noonday spanner between the internal and external environment is crucial to its ability to have a significant impact on organizational success.
If this role is based on a poor understanding of the environment in which the firm competes, marketing is unlikely to have a positive influence in strategic decision-making. PI: Marketing communicates its contributions to organizational performance effectively Marketing’s impact on performance will be influenced by perceptions of its ability to provide effective, clear and widely intelligible measures of its influence. It is therefore crucial o provide empirical evidence about whether, and to what extent, the unique contributions of marketing are clearly felt within organizations, and whether marketing actually fails to communicate to top management and other functions the value that is created by marketing activities.