International marketing standardization: a meta-analytic estimation of its antecedents and consequences.

Author:Tan, Qun
Position:RESEARCH ARTICLE - Abstract
 
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Abstract:

* Throughout the past four decades, researchers have examined several antecedents and consequences of international marketing program standardization. However, the findings reported in the literature are too fragmented to yield clear insights. To address this issue, the authors conduct a meta-analysis to quantitatively synthesize and analyze the empirical findings on antecedents and consequences of international marketing program standardization.

* The empirical results reported in this study have been integrated from 110 independent samples published in 108 articles. Multivariate analysis is used to examine the antecedents of international marketing program standardization strategy as well as the interdependence between the four elements of the marketing-mix. In addition, meta-regression analyses and subgroup analyses are performed to test potential moderating effects of performance measurement characteristics on marketing standardization-performance relationship.

* On the basis of the results, the authors discuss the implications of their findings and provide directions for further research.

Keywords: Meta-Analysis * International marketing program standardization * International performance * Path dependence theory

Introduction

The trend toward globalization of markets is likely to become increasingly important in the 21st century. As a consequence, in today's globalized world, the domestic economy is dependent on external markets to grow and prosper. This has made firms' international activities ever more important to the economic development of nations, and as a catalyst for significant growth opportunities for firms. In this context, the issue relating to the development of appropriate international marketing strategies that allow for successful competition in foreign markets is particularly relevant. Whether firms should standardize their marketing programs or adapt their strategies to the characteristics of the foreign market has been a topic of great importance for managers and researchers.

Throughout the past four decades, researchers have examined several antecedents and consequences of international marketing program standardization. International marketing program standardization refers the use of common products, price, distribution, and promotion programs across national boundaries (Jain 1989). However, empirical studies investigating international marketing program standardization have produced results that vary considerably in terms of statistical significance, direction, and magnitude. These conflicting results create difficulties for academic researchers and managers in their attempts to develop theory and management practice in the field. Indeed, the disparate findings suggest the need for a recta-analysis to provide both a systematic review and a quantitative integration of the relevant literature. A meta-analysis can provide insights into these inconsistencies by identifying measurement and sample characteristics as well as by testing the generalizability of the results (Brown and Peterson 1993).

Previous efforts to consolidate research findings in the international marketing program standardization literature have mainly been qualitative (e.g., Birnik and Bowman 2007), are narrowly focused on the consequences of marketing standardization (e.g., Shoham 2003) or used less sophisticated approaches such as the vote-counting method (e.g., Theodosiou and Leonidou 2003) and p-value combinations (e.g., Leonidou et al. 2002). In addition, previous review studies did not quantitatively test the possible impacts of interdependence between elements of the marketing-mix standardization on international performance, nor did they examine the impact of possible moderators in an effort to understand this relationship. Our aim in this study is to advance understanding on the topic of international marketing program standardization by addressing these limitations and issues that have been ignored in previous review articles. To accomplish this objective, we conduct a meta-analysis of the international marketing program standardization literature. First, we present a theoretical framework to guide the meta-analysis. Second, we discuss the development of the database for the meta-analysis. Third, we use the meta-analysis to provide a quantitative summary that includes the mean values and range of effects for the relationship that involve international marketing program standardization/adaptation. Fourth, we use multivariate analyses to examine the antecedents of international marketing program standardization strategy. Fifth, we concentrate on the marketing-mix standardization-international performance relationship and conduct a detailed analysis that includes: (1) Multivariate analysis to examine the marketing-mix standardization and international performance relationship by considering the interdependent effects between the four elements of the marketing-mix, and (2) meta-regression analyses and subgroup analyses to test potential moderating effects of performance measurement characteristics on marketing standardization-performance relationship. We conclude the meta-analysis by discussing the implications of our findings and providing directions for further research. The empirical results reported in this study have been integrated from 110 independent samples published in 108 articles. The insights that are generated through this quantitative synthesis of the literature are likely to be valued by academic researchers and managers whose research interests and job responsibility focus on the export activities of the firm.

A Proposed Framework of International Marketing Program Standardization

We developed the conceptual framework displayed in Fig. 1 on the basis of the empirical studies and a few review studies found in the literature on international marketing program standardization/adaptation (e.g., Ryans et al. 2003; Shoham 2003; Theodosiou and Leonidou 2003; Waheeduzzaman and Dube 2004). This framework is based on the ESP (Environment-Strategy-Performance) paradigm (Child 1972; Zou and Stan 1998). Consequently, a firm's strategies are subject to its internal and external environment, and focused on allocating resources available to reach a position to match its environment, thereby achieving plausible performances. Specifically, this framework describes the components of international marketing program standardization strategy and their relationships with 12 antecedent factors (including foreign market characteristics, firm/management characteristics, and product characteristics), and international performance (including measures on three dimensions: Financial performance, strategic performance, and satisfaction with performance). It also presents the possible moderators (including measurement and sample characteristics) influencing the international marketing program standardization-performance relationships. This framework is appropriate for this study based on our research purpose, i.e. to review both antecedents and consequences of international marketing program standardization. In addition, it is compatible with the idea of resource-based view and the fit theory, which are also frequently adopted in the reviewed articles.

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Antecedents of International Marketing Program Standardization

Many previous studies (e.g., Cavusgil and Zou 1994; Myers and Cavusgil 1996; Zou and Stan 1998) classified the determinants of export marketing strategy into internal factors including firm and product characteristics, and external factors including industry and export market characteristics. To be consistent with previous research we adopted the same classification.

Foreign Market Characteristics

Foreign market characteristics refer to the macro-environment (e.g., political/economic/legal environment, etc.) and the micro-environment (e.g., competitive intensity) in foreign markets that can exert an impact upon firms' marketing strategy (Sousa et al. 2008; Zou and Stan 1998). In this study, environmental similarity, competitive intensity, export market coverage, and psychic distance are included in this category. Environmental similarity includes the similarity of economic/political/legal conditions, marketing infrastructure, consumer conditions, and competitive conditions, among others, between home and target markets. The similar environments indicate a homogenized demand in home and host markets, thus increasing the feasibility of a standardized marketing strategy (Jain 1989). Almost all the empirical studies also validate the notion that environmental similarity positively influences the adoption of a standardized marketing strategy (e.g., Chung 2009; Jain 1989; Sousa and Bradley 2009). Competitive intensity, the degree of competition firms face in foreign markets (Cui and Lui 2005; Grewal and Tansuhaj 2001), is generally accepted to have a negative impact on the standardized marketing strategy, due to the great pressure from competitors to tailor firms' marketing strategy to export market characteristics (Cui and Lui 2005). The majority of the reviewed studies confirm a negative influence of competitive intensity on marketing program standardization (e.g., Lages et al. 2008). Export market development refers to the overall standard of living conditions represented by economic development (developing/developed) (Lee and Griffith 2004), and education level (Lages and Montgomery 2004). It is posited to negatively influence the adoption of a standardized marketing strategy, because of the more intensive competition and higher degree of personalized demands in more developed markets (Lages and Montgomery 2004). This negative impact is empirically validated except for one study by Vrontis et al. (2009). Psychic distance refers to an individual's perception of differences between the home country and the foreign country (Sousa and Bradley 2006). It is expected that psychic...

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