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Marketing Strategy Implementation as Source of Firms´ Competitive Advantage

Final Report Summary - IMS (Marketing Strategy Implementation as Source of Firms´ Competitive Advantage)

Compared to the project objectives, the research project progressed well and in time. Various papers were accepted for publication and presentation and were presented at renowned international conferences. During the funding period, six articles were accepted for publication in academic journals (with five already published), another one is in under review at the prestigious Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science (second round; “revise & resubmit”). Two additional full manuscripts are close to (re-)submission to leading journals such as the Journal of Marketing. In addition, reporting period´s aims related to knowledge dissemination, knowledge transfer to the host, and integration of the fellow were fully achieved.
Major goals of the work plan were achieved as planned. Qualitative and quantitative studies were carried out, the data analyzed, and papers written and submitted to journals and conferences. In addition, existing research cooperations with renowned international researchers were formed and intensified within Europe (e.g. with Andreas Eggert, University of Paderborn, Germany; Harri Terho, University of Turku, Finland; Wolfgang Ulaga, IMD, Switzerland) and overseas (e.g. with Edward Nowlin, Doug Walker, and Dawn Deeter-Schmelz; all with Kansas State University; notably, with a project carried out and accepted for publication within the second reporting period).
In line with the aims of the project proposal, the research has advanced beyond the state of the art in the field and generated important knowledge. More specifically, on the individual level, this research demonstrates the pivotal role of salespeople´s ability to recognize opportunities for customer value creation and is the first to answer the highly relevant question of what individual and organizational variables are key influences on salespeople´s value opportunity recognition. On the organizational level, the research brings the fact that implementation of firms´ value creation strategies requires the firms’ capability to interact with customer organizations to the forefront of research. In addition, it answers the important question of why suppliers’ relationships with key customers often fail. Managerially, the results provide information for firms on how to implement value strategies through an effective sales force in complex, relational selling processes, a crucial issue on today´s business markets that has hardly been studied before.
Given its novelty and relevance, the results of the research have created much interest within the scientific community and have been well-received. Publication and presentation and discussion of the various papers at top conferences of the field inspired other researchers to stronger focus on strategy implementation issues. The research even led to a special session on the project’s theme with various presentations of leading scholars at the prestigious 2016 European Marketing Academy Conference, with excellent visibility to the scientific community. Based on feedback received at the various conferences, the fellow set up new, related research projects with post-doc researchers and doctoral students at the host organization. Quite a few of these projects have already been accepted for presentation at leading conferences and, thus, generated noteworthy scientific impact. The projects are being prepared for submission to and publication in leading journals.
The fellow has widely disseminated the knowledge generated in this research. In addition to publishing and presenting results to the scientific community, the fellow created a website related to the project ( as a means for knowledge transfer to European and international researchers, firms, students, and the public, and for managing parts of the projects (e.g. online data collection). Key findings were also presented to managers at various occasions such as practitioner-oriented conferences, seminars, and European companies. In addition, key findings and benchmark reports, which had been tailored to each specific company, were sent to the samples of European firms involved in the qualitative and quantitative research projects. Firms were enthusiastic and highlighted the relevance of the research and the usefulness of the hands-on information for strengthening their competitive position on national and international markets. In addition, the fellow has established the Center for Sales Research at the host, a scientific center whose aim is to facilitate knowledge transfer from this research (and other research of the fellow) to regional, national, and European firms, and build a competence network among European universities and research organizations.
Project results as well as the fellow´s broad and rigorous content-related and methodological knowledge have also been integrated in university lectures and presentations at the host and at national and international research organizations on Bachelor, Master and doctoral levels to make students stay abreast with latest knowledge and establish host and fellow as knowledge leaders in the field. The quality of transferring his knowledge to the host is evident by, for example, one of the host´s student´s winning the European Sales Competition in 2015. Also, the fellow was able to add the host as the first non-US institution to the USCA University Sales Center Alliance, a network of highly renowned US universities with a focus on sales in research, teaching, and outreach. Within the USCA, the fellow has been appointed to being the “linking pin” to Europe, responsible for mentoring European universities interested in becoming a USCA member during their onboarding process and beyond.
The host strongly supported the fellow and its research by offering appropriate equipment, facilities, access to the international network of the host, and opportunities for professional development as needed by the fellow. Specifically, the host ensured stability and permanence of employment by offering an open-ended full-time work contract to the fellow. Based on the host´s support and additional external funding, the fellow was able to build and enlarge his work group during the funding period which now consists of one post-doctoral researcher, five doctoral students employed as senior research assistants, one person as administrative support, and a group of junior research assistants. Not only the fellow but the whole research team is able to continue to work on issues and the data of this research after the funding from the EU ended.
In all, during the funding period, the Marie Curie grant supported knowledge generation in an important area and helped close research deficits of major relevance to scholars and managers alike. In addition to the publications, the comments received on the presented and submitted papers and the feedback to various other parts of the project support the proposal’s idea of creating some groundbreaking work, which not only will result in high-impact publications in top-tier journals (e.g. the Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, etc.), but also will inspire and establish a distinct stream of research on how strategy implementation contributes to firm´s value creation and performance. In so doing, the proposed research has effectively contributed to making EU-related scientific excellence more visible, and establishing both host and fellow as knowledge leaders in the field. With all the impact, not only has the proposed research project greatly benefitted the fellow´s career, but it also had a strong impact on integrating the fellow in the European and international scientific community and ending his period of international mobility.