Scholarly article on topic 'Corporate Entrepreneurship, Generic Competitive Strategies, and Firm Performance in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises'

Corporate Entrepreneurship, Generic Competitive Strategies, and Firm Performance in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Academic research paper on "Economics and business"

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{"Corporate entrepreneurship" / "Generic strategies" / "SMEs and Performance"}

Abstract of research paper on Economics and business, author of scientific article — Nihat Kaya

Abstract The strategy literature is replete with studies focusing on such strategic and cultural firm-level factors as entrepreneurship and differentiation. Research indicates that these factors are major determinants of superior firm performance in the long-term. Nonetheless, a majority of works in this area has focused on large-scale, multinational firms. Very little is known about the effects of entrepreneurship and differentiation on the financial performances of small and medium-size firms (SMEs). In the present study, I explore the effects of these three critical factors on firm performance using a sample of 70 SMEs drawn from the Turkish Machinery and Equipments Manufacturing Industry. The results suggest that corporate entrepreneurship and differentiation positively affect SME performance. Theoretical and managerial implications of the study findings are discussed.

Academic research paper on topic "Corporate Entrepreneurship, Generic Competitive Strategies, and Firm Performance in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

ELSEVIER Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 207 (2015) 662 - 668

11th International Strategic Management Conference 2015


The strategy literature is replete with studies focusing on such strategic and cultural firm-level factors as entrepreneurship and differentiation. Research indicates that these factors are major determinants of superior firm performance in the long-term. Nonetheless, a majority of works in this area has focused on large-scale, multinational firms. Very little is known about the effects of entrepreneurship and differentiation on the financial performances of small and medium-size firms (SMEs). In the present study, I explore the effects of these three critical factors on firm performance using a sample of 70 SMEs drawn from the Turkish Machinery and Equipments Manufacturing Industry. The results suggest that corporate entrepreneurship and differentiation positively affect SME performance. Theoretical and managerial implications of the study findings are discussed. © 2015TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevier Ltd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the International Strategic Management Conference Keywords: Corporate entrepreneurship, Generic strategies, SMEs and Performance.


Small and medium- sized firms have increased their importance because of changes (movement through empty fabrics given up the most of assembling jobs to sub-contractor rather than making their own production line) in the strategy policies of the many of the large organization (Levy and Powell, 1998). SMEs will gain quite important earnings from this change. Increasing importance of the SMEs has required analyzing of them more detailed. Also in the recent years, although crucial strategy literature has been developed for large, multinational enterprises, applicability of such a strategy literature to SMEs is not an obvious issue literally (Love, Stephen, Paterson, 1995). When they compare with large enterprises, SMEs have potential advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, the broad

* Corresponding author. Tel. + 90-262-605-1414 fax. +90-262-605-1225. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the International Strategic Management Conference doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.10.136

strategy literature for SMEs should be formed according to characteristics that they have. Advantages of SMEs are generally behavioral. Disadvantages have lied in material resources (Rothwell, 1989). Potential advantages are entrepreneurial orientation and risk-taking, motivation and perseverance, motivated workforce because of low level bureaucracy, specialization, flexibility and proximity to customers (Noteboom, 1992). High cost due to diseconomies of scale, limited activity area, low level experience and learning effect are disadvantages in resources (Noteboom, 1992). This study has been performed with aim of contributing to endeavor of developing authentic strategy literature for SMEs. Two main concepts-entrepreneurship and generic strategic orientations forming the cornerstones in literature in terms of strategic perspective will be dealt with and their effects to organizational performance in SMEs will be analyzed. In today's world, businesses have felt quite a lot the needs of fast interpretation the opportunities and threats existing when they take strategic decision and move according to them towards events like competition based on knowledge, globalization and fast transition between sectors. All organizations have tried to benefit from product-market opportunities through innovational and proactive behaviors. Management science theoreticians have put forward the vitality of entrepreneurial approach for organizational success in the creation of strategy (Dess, Lumpkin, Covin, 1997). Both of strategy and culture focus on business activity having positive impact on organizational performance. So, it's necessary that entrepreneurial culture has grand impact on SMEs performance. Also Porter (1980) stated that under certain conditions, generic strategy may be appropriate in the SME's (Porter, 1980). For these reasons, impact of generic strategy on SMEs performance in terms of corporate entrepreneurship has determined as a main subject of our research.

2.Corporate Entrepreneurship

Contemporary entrepreneurship researches have started with research of economist Joseph Schumpeter (18831950). Schumpeter has stated that main agent of economic development is entrepreneurs stimulating the new products, new production methods and economical activities and making out other innovation (Noteboom, 1994).

Schumpeter defines the entrepreneurship as a "creative destruction" process in which entrepreneurs change continuously the current products or production methods with news or destroys. It may be said that the researches of Schumpeter focuses mainly on personal enterprise activity, many researchers with Schumpeter (Burgelman, 1983; Covin and Slevin1991; Miller, 1983; Zahra, 1993) put forward that entrepreneurship is a case being necessary to take up at firm level. Judging from this approach it can be said that corporate entrepreneurship is a behavioral concept and all organization place in continuum extending from "highly conservative" to "highly entrepreneur". Entrepreneur firms are risk-takers, innovative and proactive. Contrary, conservative firms are risk-adverse, less innovative and more "wait and see" principle. The position of a firm in this continuum is attributed to its entrepreneurial intensity (Borringer and Bluedorn; 1999). Lumpkin and Dess (1996) have defined the corporate entrepreneurship as a "new entry" referring the first entry to new or established market with new or current goods/services. Corporate entrepreneurship includes to the product innovation, risk taking and proactive behaving (Covin and Slevin, 1991); in addition to these, entering new job, entrepreneurship (Kuratko, Montagno, Hornsby, 1990) and organizational innovation (Sathe, 1989; Guth and Ginsberg, 1991). Innovation in terms of corporate entrepreneurship refers to persistence of organization in terms of formation and introduction of products, production processes and organizational systems (Lumpkin and Dess, 1996). Entering the new job is to make investment to new job area with enlargement of new activities in the new market. (Guth and Ginsberg, 1991). Strategic renewal represents the changes of work or activity area, changing the competitive approach or stimulating operation of business with changing both of them (Zahra, 1993). With more clear expression, strategic renewal requires to take up both firm level strategy (like determining product-market area) and business level strategy (like determining sources of sustainable competitive advantages) (Dess, 1999). To configure the corporate entrepreneurship on the correct basis, especially examining managerial risk taking is necessary. Managerial risk taking constitutes a crucial part of corporate entrepreneurship. However corporate entrepreneurship refers to more comprehensive risk than risk undertaken in the research and development project. Singly high R&D expenditure can cause internal inefficiency, so the unnecessary consumption of resources to find out new product or technology rather than risk taking (Zahra, 1996). Although the most of the researches have argued that high R&D expenditure causes more product and process innovation, Kocher and David (1996) have argued searching this situation more detailed. In the same way, patent amount that organization have may not carry high financial value and provide high profits (Zahra, 1996). Corporate entrepreneurship may increase the value of firm and performance because of making up a comprehension

supporting the individual and firm development (Kaya, 2006). This comprehension especially can be taken up with organizational culture supporting mutual functional collaboration, providing to the firm answering to market fast and giving the opportunity of using creative skills to employees (Zahra, 1996). In spite of the potential contribution of corporate entrepreneurship, managers generally do not behave eager because of entrepreneur activities that can be cause to decrease in competition power (Franko, 1989) and carrying high failed risk. Failure increasing the probability of becoming unemployed for managers caused by entrepreneurial activities and affecting negatively the carrier of managers is the other reasons of this unwillingness.

3.Generic Strategies

Generic competition strategies of Porter (1980) have been deeply analyzed in terms of strategic marketing and strategic management literature and dual approach has risen about generic strategies. In first approach, generic strategies claims that organizations look for either efficiency or differentiation in the broad market. This approach suggests that the more businesses focus on productivity the less they will apply differentiation (Porter, 1980). While in overall cost leadership strategy, organizations focus on cost minimization; in differentiation strategy, firms give importance to access the superior quality and image through value chain (Even if includes substantial cost) (Varadarajan, 1998). In the second approach, it has been proposed that these two strategies can be used simultaneously and in a profitable way. According to this approach, differentiation strategy requires to increase the high product quality. This probably involves enduring higher cost in a series of functional area to promote differentiation strategy. Providing quality product increases the demand of firm's product. Higher market demand provides to gain bigger market share to organization and less cost through cumulative production volume. Hall (1983) has reported that organization gained significant success with unifying the higher cost related with transferring and changing goods and services in the boundary of organization. Covin and Covin (1991) have asserted that competitive tactics and strategies applied by entrepreneur firm determine the firm's performance. What degree the level of firm's entrepreneurship affects the performance of SMEs in terms of generic strategy? For example, what degree the approaches based on cost affect the performance of SMEs. Strategies giving importance to innovation and introduction of new product generally demonstrate compliance with entrepreneurial competitive advantage. However Dess (1999) stated that strategies based on cost control and process reformation is more appropriate for large organizations using economies of scale as a competitive advantage. Smallbone, Leig, North (1995) stated that entrepreneurial organizations moving cost leadership strategy proportionally have lower performance. But some researches confirmed that organizations moving the cost leadership and using entrepreneurial decision making approach show high performance (Dess, Lumpkin, Covin, 1997). Differentiation strategies adapt to entrepreneurial activities more than cost leadership strategy. To be successful, differentiators need to strong marketing skills, creative flair, product engineering and strong coordination between functional areas (Porter, 1980). In the literature related with generic strategy, developments have been seen towards gaining sustainable competitive advantage by combining the approaches of differentiations and cost leadership with adding value (Miller and Dess, 1996; Amoako-Gyampah and Acquaah, 2008). In addition, Dadzie et al (2012) and Ortega (2010) assert that differentiation strategy improve firm performance.

4.Field Study on Corporate Entrepreneurship, Generic Competitive Strategies, and Firm Performance in Small and Medium-Sized Business Organizations

In the survey applied on SMEs; effects of differentiation strategy and cost leadership strategy with corporate entrepreneurship on firm performance of these organizations will be tried to analyze with heuristic approach (without developed formal hypothesis). Being an appropriate to general approach in literature; organizations employing employees less than 500 have been evaluated as SMEs in our research. Research has been made on SMEs operating in machinery and equipment industry in Turkey and 453 firms having this feature have been determined. Questionnaire method has been applied on gathering data. With aim of reducing the error rate to minimum level, the questionnaire answered by general manager, assistant managers or marketing managers of the firms has been wanted. One part of questionnaire has been answered as a result of interview; crucial part has been applied by post. Survey questions have been developed by used the scales from related literature. During the face-to-face interview; pre-test of questions has also been realized. Overall cost leadership and differentiation strategy

survey questions have been prepared by utilizing Homburg, Krohmer and Workman(1999)'s study and survey questions related with corporate entrepreneurship have been prepared by utilizing from Borringer and Bluedom (1999)'s studies. Questions related with generic strategies have been measured with scale generated as a "very low (1) and very high (7)"; questions related with performance have been measured with scale generated as a "very poor (1) and very well (7)"; questions related with corporate entrepreneurship have been measured with scale generated as a "strongly disagree (1) and strongly agree (7)". Data can be gathered from 75 of 453 contacted firms operating in machinery and equipments production industry for participating the research (5 of them have not been taken to evaluation because of quite a lot space in the survey). When the features of answer were analyzed survey has been made 56 firms in level of general manager and assistant manager and 14 firms in marketing, production or accounting-finance manager level, also each of them has been worked for a long time for their business (average=11 years).This situation has increased our trust towards that they have knowledge and experience about strategic priority of their firms. Comparison of the firms answering the survey late or early has been made with aim of determining possible effect of lowness in the rate of return on bias of results and any difference in terms of statistics have not been seen. Data gathered by using survey method have been evaluated in SPPS program. Before evaluation the results; data related with questions wanted to test have been classified. Questions related with variables used in survey have been subjected to factor analysis and variables have been classified. Aim is to determine to what extent each variable can be associated with related structural comprehend. Ideally; each question should lean to own factor with a high coefficient while associate with other factors with a lower coefficient. After, factors made classification has been subjected to reliability (Alphas) test. In table 1 result of factor analysis related with corporate entrepreneurship has been given. Every variable have leaned to related factor with adequately high coefficient. The same way, in table 2 questions related with generic strategies (Porter's differentiation and overall cost leadership strategy) have clustered to two factors and lastly in table 3 questions related with performance have been clustered under unique factor.

Table 1. Factor analysis of corporate entrepreneurship Factor

We give support to entrepreneurial activities as an administration. .64

We have an innovation experience as a top level management .84

Risks well calculated and handled carefully are encouraged. .71

We consistently increase the our ability of managing the innovation and entrepreneurship .66

_Table 2. Factor analysis of generic strategy variables_Factor_

Differentiation strategy

Creating customer value through services supporting the products .73

Creating special product or brand image .75

Advantage of selling product with higher price than in the market .53

Advertising .57

Adapting products to changing needs of customers .62

Cost leadership strategy

Working with lowest costs as a result of gaining efficiency of activities .57

Try to gain cost advantage in supply of raw material .80

Gaining economies of scale .85

Table 3. Factor analysis of firm performance Factor

Adapting company strategy .62

Adapting company products and/or services .79

Reacting quickly to new market threats .81

Achieving the customer satisfaction .58

Securing desired market share .80

Attracting new customers .79

Financial performance - profitability .63

Finally as seen in table 4, Alfa reliability coefficient of variables being a matter to this research has been given.

Table 4. Results of Alfa reliability test of variables in the model.

Variables Alpha reliabilities

Corporate entrepreneurship ,68

Differentiation strategy ,66

Cost leadership strategy ,63

Performance ,84

5. Analysis

Research has asserted that application as a 1) corporate entrepreneurship, 2) generic strategies which are closely related with each other have moved on quite complex process in terms of both mutual relations and simultaneous effects of them on firm performance. To understand better the nomological features of these relations, without developing any formal hypothesis exploratory analysis with correlation analysis methods will be the most valid methods in our opinion. After this analysis has been realized; effect of each three strategic application on firm performance will be tried to reveal through regression model with a heuristic aim.

Table 5. Pearson correlation table of all variables used in modal.

Mean St.Dev. 1 2 3 4

(1)Corporate entrepreneurship 5.66 .84

(2)Differentiation strategy 4.94 1.13 .39**

(3)Cost leadership strategy 5,84 .96 .08 .16

(4)Performance 5,39 .84 .61** .44** .14

** P < .01 ; * p < .05

Table 5 has given descriptive statistics related with research variables and correlation coefficient among variables. As seen entrepreneur level in firms participating to our research have appeared in high level (average of corporate entrepreneurship questions 5.66). Significant relation (.61**) is existence between corporate entrepreneurship level and performance. In other words, corporate entrepreneurship has affected the performance positively. This finding is in the same direction with finding of Covin and Slevin (1989) about when the strategic tendency of small businesses in the environment where the competition is intense carried entrepreneurial position, they showed higher performance. With this reason, this matter will be put to more detailed analysis and gathered results will be discussed with all details. Other prominent inventions are as follows: 1) there is a significant relation (.39**) between corporate entrepreneurship level and differentiation. 2) Differentiation strategy has affected firm performance positively and statistically significant way (.44**). 3) Significant relation between differentiation and cost leadership cannot be found. 4) There is no any relation between cost leadership strategy and performance (.14). Gathered findings are harmonious with related literature and our expectations. Positive effecting of differentiation strategy to performance harmonizes with claims of Walker and Ruekert (1987) and Pelham (1999; 2000). Research results have indicated that any correlation between cost leadership strategy and performance have not founded with a supporting way the findings of Pelham (1999).This situation is the indicator of that SMEs having entrepreneurial

characteristics can add more value to their customers with differentiation strategy rather than cost leadership strategy. As Smallbone, Leig and North (1995) claimed, SMEs moving cost leadership strategy could have lower performance as a rationally. This finding has not accorded with Dess, Lumpkin and Covin (1997)'s results in the context of firms having entrepreneurship characteristics related with positive effect of cost leadership strategy to performance. In this research, corporate entrepreneurship has appeared as a factor affecting firm performance positively. As a result of deepened analysis in this subject, reaching the extremely useful information will be possible. With this opinion regression analysis has been applied to determine whether any relation occurs between corporate entrepreneurship with generic strategies and performance or not.

Table 6. Regression analysis table showing the interaction of corporate entrepreneurship and generic strategies with performance.

Dependent variable: Performance

Independent variable Std.ß t value Sig.

Corporate entrepreneurship .508 4,430 .000**

Differentiation strategy .221 2.408 .020*

Cost leadership strategy .119 1.234 .223

R2 = .428 F(d.f.) = 14.712 (3.52)

** P < .01 ; * p < .05

As seen in the table, R2 value expressing the clarification percentage of variance of performance variable being a dependent variable of model appeared as .428 and F value appeared as 14.712 and model showed statistical significance even in 0.000 P degree. As seen in table 6 significant relation is existent between differentiation strategy, entrepreneurship and firm performance and relation is in the expected direction. While differentiation and entrepreneurship have affected firm performance positively, significant relation has not existed between overall cost leadership strategy and performance. This finding has revealed the existent of interaction between differentiation and entrepreneurship on the contrary to finding of Dess, Lumpkin and Covin (1997).


Research has tried to reveal the relation between corporate entrepreneurship and performance. Inventions we gathered have shown existence of strong relation between performance and corporate entrepreneurship level in SMEs. In other words, main structure of corporate entrepreneurship consisting from innovation, proactivity, risk-taking and not avoiding from experiment has affected performance of SMEs positively. Also the differentiation strategy has affected the performance positively. This can be stated that SMEs focus on existing product and process instead of focusing on innovation, proactive and evaluating the opportunities and realizing the differentiation. Impropriety of SMEs organizing with this comprehension has been seen. Because these SMEs have wanted to increase their performance through specializing over one or more products and as a result high cost arising in a consequence of entrepreneurial activities can cause a decrease in performance. In addition, SMEs trying to increase entrepreneurial level have expected performance increase in the short-run. However performance increase in the short-run should not expect with increasing the corporate entrepreneurship level. Generating earnings from entrepreneurial activities and processes can usually take a long time (Zahra and Covin, 1995).According to results gathered from these findings SMEs; should settle entrepreneurial culture to their firm but avoid from activities including high and not accurately calculating risk as possible as. SMEs inclining activities that can be considered in the definition of entrepreneurship (1) should have prominently differentiation based strategic tendency and (2) should perceive these activities as a long-run endeavour and exert effort to realize cultural and structural transformation supporting these activities in the organization. Otherwise activities having entrepreneurial characteristics can show a negative effect on firm performance on the contrary to expectation.


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