Research at Marketing Interface to Advance Entrepreneurship Theory

By Hills, Gerald E.; LaForge, Raymond W. | Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice, Spring 1992 | Go to article overview
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Research at Marketing Interface to Advance Entrepreneurship Theory

Hills, Gerald E., LaForge, Raymond W., Entrepreneurship: Theory and Practice

The knowledge base for the emerging field of entrepreneurship should be interfunctional and interdisciplinary. Yet the functional discipline of marketing has contributed to the entrepreneurship field in only recent years. And entrepreneurship researchers and writers often address marketing superficially, without an awareness of sophisticated marketing concepts and methods.

The objectives of this article are to identify key tangencies at the marketing/ entrepreneurship interface, to provide relevant research sources, and to selectively convey illustrative marketing knowledge. Because length constraints prevent in-depth attention to any subject, breadth over depth Is our objective.

There are three major sections in this paper. First, the marketing/entrepreneurship interface Is defined, with attention to various schools of marketing thought and their potential value to the entrepreneurship field. Secondly, unique tangencies with the buyer behavior literature are discussed and venture ideas and their evaluation (product research) are highlighted. Finally, the marketing strategy literature is reviewed as it potentially contributes to new venture development. In addition, other important Interfaces are briefly discussed.

The marketing discipline is an important resource for entrepreneurship researchers. First, the underlying philosophy and orientation of the discipline are attuned to markets and customer needs, which have direct applicability to entrepreneurship. This orientation is of obvious importance to new business creation and to seeking and evaluating opportunities. Second, there is a major body of literature regarding marketing research methodologies for evaluating new venture and new product ideas. Part of entrepreneurial opportunity seeking is to evaluate ideas using market opportunity analysis concepts and techniques. Third, "marketing behavior" and "entrepreneurial behavior" are similar in nature--they are both boundary spanning, involve extensive interplay with the environment, require the assumption of risk and uncertainty, and inevitably interface the complexities of human behavior with commercial and other endeavors. Fourth, when entrepreneurship encompasses innovation, the marketing discipline offers relevant insights regarding diffusion, adoption, and buyer behavior. Finally, and most obviously, marketing as a business function is universally important to new business creation and growth. It seems clear that marketing should be treated as a major domain within the entrepreneurship field.

According to Hisrich (1989) and Wortman, Spann, and Adams (1989), the first empirical validation of the importance of marketing "directly aimed at understanding the marketing/entrepreneurship interface," was based on a study of expert opinion. In-depth interviews with fourteen venture capitalists (who had financed and guided more than 200 new ventures) concluded that: (1) marketing management was rated 6.7 on a scale of 7.0, higher than any other business function in importance to the success of new ventures; (2) venture failure rates could be reduced as much as 60% through better preventure market analysis; and (3) there are major marketing challenges that are unique to new ventures (Hills, 1984). Hisrich (1989) also noted that surveys of entrepreneurs throughout the world reveal that the two leading problem areas are marketing and finance.

Yet the marketing discipline has focused direct attention on entrepreneurship only in recent years. This evolution is reviewed elsewhere (Davis, Hills, & LaForge, 1985; Hisrich, 1989; Hills & LaForge, 1991), but, importantly, 115 articles have been published since 1987 in the annual proceedings of the University of Illinois at Chicago/ American Marketing Association Symposium on Marketing and Entrepreneurship (Hills, 1987; Hills, LaForge, & Parker, 1989; Hills, LaForge, & Welsch, 1990; Hills & LaForge, 1991). Progress is being made.

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