International dynamic marketing capabilities
Gregor PFAJFAR, School of Economics and Business University of Ljubljana (Slovenia)
Maciej MITRĘGA, University of Economics in Katowice (Poland)
Aviv SHOHAM, School of Management University of Haifa (Israel)
Aim and scope
This Special Issue of International Marketing Review calls for world-leading research on how commercial, non-profit and government organizations develop, maintain, manage and leverage dynamic international marketing capabilities. We view international dynamic marketing capabilities (IDMCs) as capabilities firms use to understand and fulfil foreign market customers’ expressed and latent needs better than their rivals (Mitręga, 2019; Morgan, Feng & Whitler, 2018; Narver, Slater & MacLachlan, 2004). With international marketplaces generally being more volatile and complex than purely domestic ones, and with firms generally being less familiar with, and having limited access to, overseas resources, businesses may find it to be a greater challenge to develop IDMCs – those unique bundles of knowledge, skills and routines that are most needed for success in their international marketing operations (Gnizy, 2019). Depending on the context in which they develop, IDMCs may take the form of more or less complex organizational routines and managerial decision-making processes that shape company resources to address dynamically changing international markets (Eisenhardt & Martin, 2000; Peteraf, Di Stefano & Verona 2013; Schilke, Hu & Helfat, 2018). Previous research on dynamic marketing capabilities (DMC) has shown that such capabilities are a useful tool for expanding in international markets, especially for developing country firms that lack relevant resources, such as strong brands and cutting-edge innovations, and promote specific strategic approaches to mitigate these constraints (e.g. Fang & Zou, 2009; Falasca et al, 2017; Konwar et al, 2017; Buccieri et al, 2020; Mitręga et al, in press). However, this research is very general and fragmented, so much more work is needed in areas such as exploring the building blocks of IDMCs, distinguishing between domestic DMCs and IDMCs, linking IDMCs to specific forms of export market performance, other non-organic forms of international growth (e.g., networking, acquisitions), and other strategic capabilities (e.g., international supply chain agility) (Mitręga et al., in press). Thus, the special issue aims to attract researchers from a variety of disciplines, including international marketing, strategy, and organizational research, who are willing to combine strong theoretical foundations and world-class empirical evidence using quantitative or qualitative methods to advance knowledge of dynamic marketing capabilities in the international marketing context.
The core interest of this special issue is on capabilities, which are generally understood as "complex sets of skills and knowledge embedded in the organizational processes by which the available resources of an organization are transformed into valuable outputs" (Day, 1994, p. 37). If we add "international", "marketing" and "dynamic" dimensions to the concept of capabilities, we obtain a domain that spans different areas of research. If marketing capabilities are defined as the ability of a company to use resources to perform marketing tasks in such a way that the desired marketing results are achieved (Morgan, Katsikeas & Vorhies, 2012), then dynamic marketing capabilities focus on strategic changes in marketing assets and point the way to sustained market advantage (Barrales - Molina et al., 2014; Mitręga, 2019; Schilke, Hu & Helfat, 2018) and market expansion (Mitręga et al., In press). The international marketing literature identifies marketing capabilities as being specific or unique to international marketplaces (Morgan, Feng & Whitler, 2018): for instance, MNCs’ product innovation capabilities, global brand management capabilities, international customer-support capabilities, global account management capabilities, local market competences, overseas market-related exploitative and explorative capabilities, to name a few. Since it has been suggested that international marketing capabilities are frequently dynamic in nature (Morgan, Feng & Whitler, 2018), this results in a field of research with numerous applications, including, for instance, dynamic capabilities related to international marketing innovation, market entry, international diversification, international acquisitions and alliances.
Despite the growing interest in marketing capabilities in the international marketing literature, questions regarding “the extent to which conceptual and empirical approaches to studying marketing capabilities in the international context differ—and should differ—from those in domestic market contexts” remain unanswered (Morgan, Feng & Whitler, 2018, p. 61). This special issue calls for contributions to fill this important knowledge gap regarding IDMCs from a theoretical (e.g., conceptualization and measurement of domestic vs. international marketing capabilities, different theories for explaining IDMC), industrial (e.g., what types of international marketing capabilities should be focused on depending on the industry and company size), and organizational perspective (e.g., what specific micro-building blocks lie behind IDMCs in executive decision making).
This special issue attempts to further develop the theory of marketing capabilities and international marketing by promoting novel theoretical approaches. The majority of the marketing literature up to this point applies either the theory of the resource-based view or the theory of dynamic capabilities to study marketing capabilities, while from the perspective of internal marketing, organizational learning and the knowledge-based view are applied (Morgan, Feng & Whitler, 2018). However, it is still unclear whether other theories can be leveraged to understand better marketing capabilities in international markets. For example, we observe a broader application of social psychological theories in marketing - would they also fit in with the development of IDMCs? Another example is the recent expansion of the resource-based view focusing on the versatility of resources in the context of company growth (Nason & Wiklund, 2018; Mitręga et al, In press) and theoretical frameworks for explaining the dynamic international growth of some companies, e.g. the successfully born global SMEs (Falahat, Knight & Alon, 2018; Weerawardena, Mort & Liesch, 2019). In general, as the marketing function changes in contemporary businesses nowadays (Rust, 2020), and while some theories seem to dominate studies in marketing (Van der Merwe et al., 2007), other theoretical platforms have potential for further investigation (Gligor et al., 2019), specifically in the context of international marketing capabilities.
The topic of this special issue is very relevant to business practice. "Many companies fail not because they do something wrong or mediocre, but because they have been doing what was right in the past for too long" (Doz & Kosonen, 2010, p. 371). We explore this premise by examining the dynamic nature of international marketing capabilities that promote (constant) change. The call for papers is also timely because, due to the current global pandemic, companies are facing drastic changes in the way they work and the capabilities they need to succeed. As a result, companies may need to re-evaluate or even redevelop their international marketing capabilities as they face different levels of dynamism than before. This unique situation provides a unique opportunity to observe the process of agile development of international marketing capabilities by organizations in all kinds of industries. Answers to questions such as ‘what kind of dynamic international marketing capabilities are developing in the current pandemic?’, and ‘how have these capabilities been built, maintained and used?’ could not only help business people to create and maintain their competitive advantage in international markets, but also help researchers to understand the development of dynamic international marketing capabilities during dramatic shifts in business environment.
This call for papers acknowledges the over-focusing of the international marketing literature on the strategies of transnational corporations from the richest countries, including their expansion in emerging markets, which gives us only a very limited understanding of how companies from developing countries use their marketing capabilities to expand internationally (Caputo et al., 2016; Dikova et al. 2016; Kowalik et al., 2020; Kumar & Srivastava, 2020). Companies from developing countries operate in a more unstable environment than their competitors from industrialised countries because their domestic markets usually quickly became open to rivalry with transnational corporations and lack institutional support (Cieślik et al., 2012). In return, entry into foreign markets is sometimes seen by these companies as a way to diversify against unstable situations in their country markets (Cieślik et al., 2012). Such a context provides a favourable environment for the development and application of dynamic capabilities (Teece, et al., 1997; Fainshmidt et al., 2016). Although the literature provides evidence that marketing capabilities are useful for resource-constrained companies when entering foreign markets, it is difficult for them to build strong positions in international value chains, as these chains are asymmetric in terms of power structure, i.e. these chains are usually dominated by large multinational companies that protect their position (Siemieniako & Mitręga, 2018; Baraldi & Ratajczak-Mrozek, 2019; Pfajfar, et al., 2019). It would therefore be interesting to explain theoretically the dynamic international expansion of companies from resource-limited developing regions such as Central Asia, Africa, Latin America and post-communist Europe. Furthermore, the conceptualization of dynamic international marketing capabilities will potentially need to change depending on whether the study is in developed or developing economies, in single or multi-unit businesses, in a corporate HQ versus in a multinational subsidiary. Since it has been found that the marketing department’s influence is declining and the sales department’s influence is gained most out of it (Homburg et al., 2015), a relevant question concerns the issue of who should be responsible for the development and utilization of IDMCs in a multinational corporation.
Last but not least, our special issue addresses increased volatility in the international markets resulting from tensions between regions and countries in the geopolitical area, which create the shift from unipolar to bipolar world order and creates potentials instabilities such as enforced decoupling in international supply chains and increased protectionism in international trade (Handfield et al., 2020; Thürer et al., 2020). These tendencies are observable with increased intensity since the world economic crisis of 2008 and they are accelerated by the world pandemics of 2020. Rust (2020) proposes geopolitical changes as one of three main tendencies (together with technological and socioeconomic trends) driving how marketing practice and marketing theory need to be reshaped in the future. Therefore, international marketing research needs to address the question of how current marketing resources and capabilities may be reorganized by companies in international markets to keep up with increased geopolitical risks.
We welcome all types of manuscripts, theoretical and empirical, thematic review articles and meta analyses. We encourage (but not limit) the researchers to go beyond single case analyses and descriptive analyses of survey data to capture the dynamic nature of international marketing capabilities with rigorous methodological approaches, including longitudinal studies, mixed-methods, using experimental data and in-depth multi-case studies.
This special issue calls for papers in the areas listed below but not limited to:
- Novel dynamic capabilities that are required solely for marketing in international markets
- IDMCs development during the crisis (e.g. COVID-19 pandemic)
- Mechanism of marketing capability development in international markets
- Redefinition and typology of international vs. domestic dynamic marketing capabilities in a given context (e.g. developed vs developing economy, single vs. multi-unit business, corporate headquarters vs. its multinational subsidiaries)
- The influence of institutional context in the host country(-ies) on IDMCs
- Factors moderating the dynamic marketing capability-firm performance link in international markets
- Other consequences of IDMCs beyond firm-level performance, including ecological and social sustainability
- International marketing research capabilities
- Individual vs. group-level (e.g. supply chain) marketing capabilities in international markets
- Reconfiguring marketing resources in international markets: evolutionary and revolutionary perspective
- Intra-organizational marketing (and learning) capabilities at and between headquarters and connected subsidiaries
- Dynamic marketing capabilities in international B2B relationships and networks
- The influence of chief marketing officer (CMO), marketing department or subsidiary power on IDMCs
- Dynamic marketing capabilities and complementary vs. substitutive assets in the international context
- Differences in marketing capabilities of international firms at different stages of internationalization
- Dynamic vs. static nature of marketing capabilities in international markets (a process perspective)
- Ownership of international marketing dynamic capabilities development
- The role of dynamic marketing capabilities in shaping international markets
- The specific features of dynamic marketing capabilities of companies from developing countries in their global expansion and improving their position in international value chains
- Role of modern technology (e.g. big data analytics, artificial intelligence) in dynamic marketing capabilities applied in international markets
- Application of theories infrequently used in marketing and in international marketing specifically to explain development and use of dynamic international marketing capabilities
Papers targeting the special issue should be submitted through the IMR submission system and will undergo a similar double-blind review process as regularly submitted papers. The submission window for submission to the special issue will be between 31st March and 31st May 2022.
Before submission please review the IMR author guidelines at https://www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/journal/imr
Online submission is also available from that page. During submission please select this issue from the dropdown menu provided. Submission is not possible until 31 March 2022.
Early expressions of interest and enquiries can be directed to the special issue Guest Editors:
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