Entrepreneurship and family firms : a case study in growth and survival

Morris, Mervyn J. (2009) Entrepreneurship and family firms : a case study in growth and survival. In Gillin, L (Ed.) Proceedings of the 6th International AGSE Entrepreneurship Research Exchange, Feb 3-6, 2009, ECIC, University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia, Swinburne University of Technology, Adelaide, Australia , pp. 853-862.

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Entrepreneurial marketing has gained popularity in both the entrepreneurship and marketing disciplines in recent times. The success of ventures that have pursued what are considered non-traditional marketing approaches has been attributed to entrepreneurial marketing practices. Despite the multitude of marketing concepts and models, there are prominent venture successes that do not conform to these and have thus been put in the ''entrepreneurial'' box. One only has to look to the ''Virgin'' model to put this in context. Branson has proven for example that not ''sticking to the knitting'' can work with the ways the Virgin portfolio has been diversified. Consequently, an entrepreneurial orientation is considered a desirable philosophy and has become prominent in such industries as airlines and information technology. Miles and Arnold (1991) found that entrepreneurial orientation is positively correlated to marketing orientation. They propose that entrepreneurial orientation is a strategic response by firms to turbulence in the environment.

While many marketing successes are analysed in hindsight using traditional marketing concepts and strategies, there are those that challenge standard marketing textbook recommendations. Marketing strategy is often viewed as a process of targeting, segmenting and positioning (STP). Academics and consultants advocate this approach along with the marketing and business plans. The reality however is that a number of businesses do not practice these and pursue alternative approaches.

Other schools of thought and business models have been developing to explain differences in orientation such as branding (Keller 2001), the service-dominant logic (Vargo and Lusch 2004) and effectuation logic (Sarasvathy 2001). This indicates that scholars are now looking to cognate fields to explain a given phenomenon beyond their own disciplines. Bucking this trend is a growing number of researchers working at the interface between entrepreneurship and marketing. There is now an emerging body of work dedicated to this interface, hence the development of entrepreneurial marketing as an alternative to the traditional approaches.

Hills and Hultman (2008:3) define entrepreneurial marketing as ''a spirit, an orientation as well as a process of passionately pursuing opportunities and launching and growing ventures that create perceived customer value through relationships by employing innovativeness, creativity, selling, market immersion, networking and flexibility.'' Although it started as a special interest group, entrepreneurial marketing is now gaining recognition in mainstream entrepreneurship and marketing literature. For example new marketing textbooks now incorporate an entrepreneurial marketing focus (Grewal and Levy 2008).

The purpose of this paper is to explore what entrepreneurial approaches are used by entrepreneurs and their impact on the success of marketing activities.

Methodology/Key Propositions

In order to investigate this, we employ two cases: 42Below, vodka producers from New Zealand and Penderyn Distillery, whisky distillers from Wales. The cases were chosen based on the following criteria. Firstly, both companies originate from small economies. Secondly, both make products (spirits) from locations that are not traditionally regarded as producers of their flagship products and thirdly, the two companies are different from each other in terms of their age. Penderyn is an old company established in 1882, whereas 42Below was founded only in 1999. Vodka has never been associated with New Zealand. By the same token, whisky has always been associated with Scotland and Ireland but never been with Wales. Both companies defied traditional stereotypes in marketing their flagship products and found international success.

Using a comparative a case study approach, we use Covin and Slevin's (1989) set of items that purport to measure entrepreneurial orientation and apply a qualitative lens on the approaches of both companies. These are: 1. cultural emphases on innovation and R&D 2. high rate of new product introduction 3. bold, innovative product development 4. initiator proactive posture 5. first to introduce new technologies and products 6. competitive posture toward competitor 7. strong prolictivity for high risk, high return projects 8. environment requires boldness to achieve objectives 9. when faced with risk, adopts aggressive, bold posture.

Results and Implications

We find that both companies have employed entrepreneurial marketing approaches but with different intensities. While acknowledging that they are different from the norm, the specifics of their individual approaches are dissimilar. Both companies have positioned their products at the premium end of their product categories and have emphasised quality and awards in their communication strategies.

42Below has carved an image of irreverence and being non-conformist. They have unashamedly utilised viral marketing and entered international markets by training bartenders and hosting unconventional events. They use edgy language such as vodka university, vodka professors and vodka ambassadors. Penderyn Distillery has taken a more traditional approach to marketing its products and portraying romantic images of age-old tradition of distilling as key to their positioning. Both companies enjoy success as evidenced by industry awards and international acclaim.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 26986
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Entrepreneurship, Family Firms, Growth, Survival
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Entrepreneurship (150304)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Small Business Management (150314)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 (Please consult the authors).
Deposited On: 26 Aug 2009 01:38
Last Modified: 18 Sep 2012 23:33

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