Exploring Proactive Market Strategies : How Proactivity Shapes Value-Creation
Sammanfattning: In discussions of firm strategy, proactivity is often mentioned as an enabler of effective goal accomplishment and high performance. However, it is rarely explained what, more precisely, being more proactive actually entails, or even indeed defined what is meant by the term ‘proactivity’ in this particular context. This dissertation seeks to investigate proactivity and its role in shaping firms’ market strategies. From prior research on proactivity in the strategic marketing domain, we know that proactive firms, on average, develop more radical innovation, are better at managing complex and highly competitive environments, and seem to achieve higher business performance. However, few, if any, of these prior studies properly define proactivity and take a more holistic perspective on its impact on firms’ market strategies.In this dissertation I propose a definition of proactivity through three main proactive characteristics: being future-oriented, taking the initiative, and driving change. Thus, a proactive firm does not wait for things to happen and then react to those events. Instead, it keeps a long-term horizon on its scanning for market intelligence and takes action before things happen, in order to create the change needed to improve its situation. While certainly not all proactive actions are successes, particularly not if the firm lacks proper awareness of the situation or exceeds its capabilities in its striving to shape events, proactive firms do have access to a broader set of opportunities than their less proactive competitors.To understand how proactivity influences market strategies, it is first necessary to understand market strategy itself a bit closer. I define market strategies as firms’ strategies for creating customer value. According to the market orientation literature, the basis of achieving long-term high firm performance is to consistently provide customers with superior value to that of the competition. Thus, firms’ market strategies are squarely at the center of their efforts to become more successful. To study these strategies and the effects they have, it is necessary to go beyond strategy documents and study the actual activities that firms perform to implement them. A market strategy, in my conceptualization, can thus be perceived as a coherent set of activities aimed at fulfilling certain goals, leading to the creation of customer value. These activities can then be further categorized according to the strategic orientations that drive the firm’s strategy-making, with customer orientation, competition orientation and innovation orientation being the orientations that have the most impact on market strategies.From this conceptual foundation, the dissertation takes four different approaches to investigating proactive market strategies, each presented in one of the four appended papers. In the first paper, a conceptual typology of different types of market strategies based on different value-creation logics – which are the combinations of responsiveness and proactivity that influence a firm’s value-creation efforts – is presented. In the second paper, the market strategies of five proactive firms are investigated to find three generic proactive market strategies, each representing a typical way for firms to employ proactivity in their market strategies. The third paper uses fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis to investigate the configurations of proactivity, market environment and different market strategies that consistently lead to high market-strategic effectiveness. Finally, the fourth paper goes more in-depth in exploring the activities that firms employ to create value for customers, with particular focus on the different activities that are performed during different stages of contact with a customer.Through this thorough investigation of proactive market strategies, this dissertation presents a holistic view of proactivity and its impact on firms’ market strategies and their associated activities. As this is the first proper holistic view of proactivity in market strategy and also the first attempt to properly define proactivity in the market-strategic context, the dissertation also provides directions for future research.
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