Does a Market Orientation Strategy Exist toward Business School Students? a View from Three Levels of Academic Administrators
Webster, Robert L., Hammond, Kevin L., Academy of Marketing Studies Journal
INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS
Successful organizations seek to attain and maintain high levels of performance; but can a particular organizational strategy or culture lead to improved organizational performance? If so, can such a strategy or culture be described and then be measured quantitatively? And, if measurements can be made will comparisons in measurements between organizations be advantageous in helping organizations improve their performance?
This paper investigates these questions, measures a specific component of organizational strategy and compares three managerial levels of educational organizations. The organizational strategy measured is market orientation. The quantitative measurement is accomplished by way of a scaled instrument used in a national survey. The comparisons described in this research include benchmarked levels between commercial businesses (for profit entities) and various organizational levels of schools of business administration (non-profit entities).
In marketing literature, numerous similar sounding terms are often encountered. These terms are not synonymous and should not be used interchangeably. To help differentiate and explain terms, the following three descriptions and definitions are provided:
The marketing concept is a philosophy that advocates that a successful organization begins with identifying customer needs and wants, decides which needs to meet, and involves all employees in the process of satisfying customers. Marketing orientation implies that the marketing function is the most important function within the organization and that all other functional areas are driven by the demands of the marketing department. Market orientation refers to an organizational culture in which everyone in the organization is committed to the customer and adapts in a timely manner to meeting the changing needs of the customer. Market orientation blends a company culture dedicated to providing superior value with successfully achieving a customer focus, acquiring competitor intelligence, and maintaining interfunctional coordination. It is viewed as the implementation of the marketing concept.
DISCUSSION AND LITERATURE REVIEW
The Baldrige Education Criteria for Performance Excellence, developed by the Baldrige National Quality Program (BNQP 2005), rest on the assumption that universities can take steps to achieve "performance excellence". The document specifies certain marketing-related activities, and emphasizes the need to identify and plan strategies with respect to various segments of students, stakeholders and other markets. The Baldrige criteria are designed to be used for self-assessment, awarding Baldrige prizes, and providing feedback to educational institutions applying for them, but have other important purposes as well. They can be used by any university business school, for example, regardless of whether or not it is an award applicant, to "improve organizational performance practices, capabilities, and results," to "facilitate ... sharing of best practices," and to assist in "understanding and managing performance ... guiding organizational planning and opportunities for learning" (BNQP 2005).
Excellence of performance in higher education is self-evidently important. In the business discipline, it is assessed and assured by the qualification standards of the bodies awarding formal accreditation to business schools (Karathanos and Karathanos 1996). In the U.S.A., these are mainly AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, known until 1997 as the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business) and ACBSP (the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs), address performance evaluation and improvement. Performance is ranked more informally in the U.S.A. by the annual guide published by U.S. News and World Report and by the Peterson's web-based educational information resource, both directed at prospective students, their parents and their advisers.
The scope of marketing was successfully broadened decades ago to include universities and other non-business organizations (Kotler and Levy 1969a, 1969b). Many other marketing academics have since discussed and demonstrated the benefits of applying marketing to services in general (Lovelock 1983; Swenson 1998) and higher education in particular (Hayes 1989; Miller et al. 1990). University business school administrations and other stakeholders should be interested in strategic marketing applications and any other actions that could have a significant impact upon performance levels. Nevertheless, the 'senior leaders' invoked in the Baldrige criteria may in principle accept the importance of quality, performance and continuous improvement, yet in practice resist the notion that academic institutions could or should consider students as customers.
The study reported here, part of a stream of continuing research, and is a further effort to encourage the application of strategic marketing theory and practice within higher education. We know, from previous empirical research (Hammond et al. 2006) that the behaviours and actions indicative of a high level of market orientation generally lead to higher levels of performance within university business schools. The research further indicates that emphasis by higher education leaders can positively impact market orientation levels. We also know that market orientation levels reported for private business schools are generally higher than those reported for public business schools (Webster et al. 2005).
The marketing concept advocates that all activities of a firm should be directed toward satisfying the customer. The market orientation construct has been developed, defined and measured to operationalize the implementation of the marketing concept. Narver & Slater (1990) and Kohli & Jaworski (1993) concluded that market orientation is the type of business culture and …
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Publication information: Article title: Does a Market Orientation Strategy Exist toward Business School Students? a View from Three Levels of Academic Administrators. Contributors: Webster, Robert L. - Author, Hammond, Kevin L. - Author. Journal title: Academy of Marketing Studies Journal. Volume: 12. Issue: 2 Publication date: July 2008. Page number: 19+. © 2008 The DreamCatchers Group, LLC. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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