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30 September 2021
Journal of Strategic Marketing
Special Issue Editor(s)
Prof. Demetris Vrontis,
University of Nicosia, Cyprus
Dr. Riad Shams,
Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, UK
Prof. Alkis Thrassou,
University of Nicosia, Cyprus
Prof. Vijay Pereira,
NEOMA Business School, Reims Campus, France
Dr. Evangelia Siachou,
University of Athens, Greece
Strategic Marketing and the Realities and Illusions of Sustained Competitive Advantage - Revisiting the Resource-based View
A key purpose of strategic marketing management is to establish, prolong and sustain the competitive advantage (C.A.) of a firm and/or its goods or services. Extant marketing literature helps us to conceptualize, plan, implement and monitor marketers’ initiatives to establish and prolong a C.A. However, our current marketing management knowledge, theories and concepts appear increasingly incapable to underpin marketers’ efforts towards sustained C.A. And while developing a short-medium term C.A. is within reach, it the elements of sustainability and inimitability that are so elusive. In this context, marketing scholars have been working at the intersection of the strategic management’s resource-based view (RBV) theory and strategic marketing management to prolong and possibly sustain a product/service competitive advantage in the long-term. Conversely, though, the RBV theory itself has also received criticisms from its own (strategic management) field, as well as from other cross-functional business fields, including marketing, regarding its ability to support the creation of sustained C.A.
RBV & CROSS-FUNCTIONAL SCOPE
Since Jay Barney published his 1991 seminal paper on the resource-based view (RBV) and sustained competitive advantage, this research-stream has completed close to three decades of pre-eminence in strategic management research, and has attracted significant attention from and made contributions to other wider management knowledge fields. However, amidst an ever-changing global business context, scholars and practitioners alike increasingly abandon traditional and time-honoured strategies for other innovative and reflexively adaptive ones (Chebbi et al., 2015; Campanella et al., 2016). As a result, the RBV’s aptitude is inevitably, and perhaps irrevocably, being questioned. A scorching issue, thus, arises to identify the degree and nature of RBV theory’s relevance to contemporary strategic marketing principles and practice, and to determine whether the RBV theory has reached, or has even surpassed, its full potential and expediency.
A key concern in RBV studies is related to sustaining competitive advantage from and through different and wider management perspectives. In their 2001 paper, Barney et al. discussed the core and emergent areas of RBV studies i.e. HRM, entrepreneurship and innovation, marketing, international business, economics and finance, strategy and dynamic capabilities, corporate governance, venture capital, institutional environment, process/operation management in organizational research, ethics and corporate social responsibility, and management information systems. Thereafter, in their 2011 paper, Barney et al. themselves argued that “RBT [resource-based theory in 2011] lies at a critical juncture, one that will be followed either by revitalization of the theory or by its decline” (p. 1299). Contrariwise, more recent literature within a number of management research-streams argues that we have limited understanding of the potentials of RBV to align with different business function-specific contexts, such as strategic marketing, HRM and information technology, among others (Davcik and Sharma, 2016; Ayabakan et al., 2017; Nason and Wiklund, 2018; Mishra et al., 2019; Santoro et al., 2019), in order to underpin the particular business function-specific management, as well as to sustainably establish firms’ and/or its products’/services’ competitive advantage.
RBV CRITICISM & STRATEGIC MARKETING
“RBV’s central tenets concern resources that meet valuable, rare, inimitable, and nonsubstitutable (VRIN) criteria…(which) theoretically…allow firms to exploit unique opportunities (for sustained competitive advantage). (However) using meta-analytic techniques, we find that versatile resources are associated with higher levels of growth, whereas VRIN resources are not” (Nason and Wiklund, 2018, p. 32). Also, the RBV has received criticism because of its partial consideration to the institutional environment in terms of understanding how it can impact on industry structure and organizational performance (Bamiatzi et al., 2016).
In the context of strategic marketing, a paper in the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science that summarizes the studies on resource-based theory (RBT) in marketing argues that RBV “provide(s) an important framework for explaining and predicting the basis of a firm’s competitive advantage” (p. 1); and finds, however, that empirical studies in this context in marketing are very sparse (Kozlenkova et al., 2014). There is fertile ground, therefore, for marketing researchers to explore novel empirical insights at the intersection of RBV and different aspects of strategic marketing management, which would be instrumental in extending literature and theory development in strategic marketing, and in developing novel empirical measurements for such theoretical advancements.
Furthermore, “marketing scholars and practitioners recognize marketing resources as crucial drivers in the process by which firms develop their competitive advantages and achieve higher levels of performance. However, there is little agreement in the literature on what constitutes marketing resources” (Davcik and Sharma, 2016, p. 5547). On the one hand, since such disagreements in defining marketing resources could result in misunderstanding and misleading initiatives in marketing resource allocation and re-allocation; progressing with competitive advantage research in strategic marketing, based on the resource-based approach would be a critical pitfall. On the other hand, the RBV would have implications on the classification and definition of marketing resources; however, no research is noted from this context. Also, “a fundamental, but overlooked stream of resource-based theory (RBT) is the analysis of combinations of initial heterogeneous resource endowments with homogeneous resources that are acquired in the market” (Forcadell et al., 2018, p. 693). Therefore, exploring novel insights related to the implications of RBV for heterogeneous resource endowments with homogeneous resources would also be valuable to explore and explain the scope and influence of strategically classifying, planning (allocating or re-allocating) and evaluating marketing resources in a way that could enable marketers to sustain the competitive advantage of their strategic marketing initiatives.
In terms of RBV’s implications for firms’ environmental management, “a significant limitation of this (RBV) literature is that while managerial capability and superior environmental strategies are assumed to be the main factors driving superior environmental performance, these variables are neither directly measured, nor explicitly incorporated in the research design” (Shaukat et al., 2016, p. 570). Consequently, it offers another potential field for strategic marketing researchers to analyse and underpin marketers’ managerial capabilities to influence the environmental variables for strategic marketing to sustain the competitive advantage of their market offerings. In terms of information systems knowledge-streams, “information systems researchers have drawn on the resource-based view (RBV) and dynamic capabilities theory to offer a sharper theoretical lens to study the impact of information technology (IT) enabled capabilities on organizational performance” (Ayabakan et al., 2017, p. 189); however, data management and predictive analytics’ prospective link with organizational resources and capabilities to influence organizational performance (e.g. competitive advantage) remains unclear (Mishra et al., 2019). In this context, RBV offers marketing researchers the opportunity to explore and explain the prospective implications of RBV to underpin the influence of marketing data management system and its predictive analytics’ scope to strategically allocate/re-allocate marketing resources for the dynamics of strategic marketing capabilities to influence strategic marketing performance i.e. sustaining a market offering’s competitive advantage. This will advance our understanding of how we could strategically manage the marketing information system.
This special issue seeks to explore and explain the future potentialities and value of RBV, with an aim to develop novel theoretical and practical insights on how RBV could influence the dynamics of strategic marketing management and marketing resources and capabilities to not only establish or prolong a competitive advantage, but also to sustain such competitive advantages of marketers’ strategic efforts and their market offerings.
The relevant research questions include, but are not limited to:
-How could RBV define and classify marketing resources to underpin resource-based sustainable competitive advantage (SCA)?
-What would be the impact of RBV on linking marketers’ managerial capabilities and marketing strategies for SCA?
-How could RBV sustainably contribute to uncertainty management for marketers to strategically sustain their market offerings' competitive advantage during uncertain times?
-Why and how would RBV be instrumental for data management, predictive analytics and strategic marketing decision system to interlink marketing resources and capabilities to sustain firm performance?
-What would the influence of RBV for strategic marketing-led SCA for cross-industry issues of conglomerate business marketers?
-How could RBV influence the marketers’ cause and consequence of relationships and interactions with stakeholders, as a strategic stakeholder causal scope (Shams, 2016) to understand stakeholders' needs in order to underpin SCA?
-What would be the implications of RBV for cross-disciplinary (e.g. neuroscience and branding) or cross-functional research (e.g. HRM and employer branding) to strategically underpin SCA?
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AUTHOR INFORMATION: SUBMISSION AND REVIEW PROCESS
Prospective contributors of this special issue are invited to format their manuscripts based on the Journal’s guidelines available below. Manuscripts should be submitted online through the online manuscript portal that can be accessed from the Journal’s homepage. Authors should select the "special issue title” when submitting their manuscripts to ScholarOne. All manuscripts will undergo through the traditional double-blind review process. Informal inquiries are valued, and can be directed to the guest editors.
Reference details can be provided by the guest editors on request.
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