Adaption vs. Standardisation

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International marketing adaptation versus standardisation of multinational companies Demetris Vrontis
School of Business, University of Nicosia, Nicosia, Cyprus

Adaptation versus standardisation 477
Received September 2008 Revised February 2009 Accepted February 2009

Alkis Thrassou
Department of Marketing, School of Business, University of Nicosia, Nicosia, Cyprus, and

Iasonas Lamprianou
Department of Education, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to position multinational companies on a linear continuum indicating their overall attitude towards standardisation/adaptation, examines the reasons influencing multinational companies’ tactical (7Ps – marketing mix) behaviour towards it, and finally presents the underlying managerial implications of the results. Design/methodology/approach – A rating scale Rasch model is used in order to place the multinational companies’ attitude towards standardisation and adaptation on a linear continuum. Structural equation modelling is subsequently used in order to investigate the relationship between the adaptation and standardisation variable against other variables. An extensive literature review is also undertaken to provide the theoretical foundation. Findings – The paper corroborates the findings of past research by placing multinational companies on a linear continuum; by identifying their overall attitude towards adaptation/standardization; and by describing the relationship between AdaptStand and other variables. Furthermore, it categorises the reasons pulling towards adaptation or standardisation into “significant” and “peripheral”; and provides valuable insights towards practical application. Practical implications – The paper provides marketing researchers and practitioners with an overview of the main factors that influence marketing tactical behaviour in international markets. Additionally, the research transcends descriptive analysis to identify vital behavioural issues and to prescribe marketing approaches regarding internationalisation. Originality/value – Though the subject of “adaptation versus standardisation” has been extensively researched, this paper provides original work through in-depth quantitative analysis of a sufficient sample of multinational companies. The paper reaches specific and explicit conclusions that scientifically test existing theory on the subject, categorise factors according to their significance in the adaptation/standardisation decision process and offer valuable prescriptions of marketing tactics based on the findings. Keywords International marketing, Marketing strategy, Multinational companies, Marketing theory, Standardization Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction Within the field of international marketing, the debate over the extent of standardisation or adaptation has occupied a significant part of past research.

International Marketing Review Vol. 26 Nos 4/5, 2009 pp. 477-500 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0265-1335 DOI 10.1108/02651330910971995

IMR 26,4/5

478

The subject, though extensively researched, has not been exhausted yet, since, in-depth statistical analysis and measurement of the relative weight of elements affecting the decision are still necessary to enhance our knowledge on it. This research makes a significant step towards eliminating this gap and provides a valuable addition both to theoretical understanding and to managerial applications on the subject. Vignali and Vrontis (1999) indicate that this debate commenced as early as 1961, when Elinder (1961) considered it with respect to worldwide advertising. During that period, advertising and the need for international standardisation was at the heart of the debate (Kanso and Kitchen, 2004). International advertising standardisation would have necessitated a common advertising...
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