The Role of Marketing
As marketing gains increasing prominence as an orientation that everyone in the organization shares and as a process that all functions participate in deploying, a critical issue that arises is the role of the marketing function. Specifically, what role should the marketing function play, and what value does the marketing function have, if any, in an organization that has a strong market orientation? The authors take the view that though a firm’s market orientation is undeniably important, the marketing function should play a key role in managing several important connections between the customer and critical firm elements, including connecting the customer to (1) the product, (2) service delivery, and (3) financial accountability. The authors collect data from managers across six business functions and two time periods with respect to marketing’s role, market orientation, the value of the marketing function, and perceived firm performance. The results show that the marketing function contributes to perceptions of firm financial performance, customer relationship performance, and new product performance beyond that explained by a firm’s market orientation. Marketing’s value, in turn, is found to be a function of the degree to which it develops knowledge and skills in connecting the customer to the product and to financial accountability. For service firms, the value of the marketing function also is related positively to marketing’s ability to connect the customer to service delivery.
ooking broadly at the marketing literature and practice, it appears that during the past ten years there has been a movement toward thinking of marketing less as a function and more as a set of values and processes that all functions participate in implementing. In this view, marketing becomes everybody’s job, which potentially diffuses the marketing function’s role but increases marketing’s influence (Greyser 1997). As McKenna (1991, p. 68) notes, “Marketing is everything and everything is marketing,” or as Haeckel (1997, p. ix) states, “Marketing’s future is not a function of business, but is the function of business.” The empirical literature on market orientation is the most profound indication of this change in perspective. Although it has been defined in a variety of ways, several empirical studies of business organizations indicate that an organizationwide market orientation has a positive impact on the financial performance of firms and their new products (Day and Nedungadi 1994; Deshpandé, Farley, and Webster 1993; Jaworski and Kohli 1993; Kohli, Jaworski, and Kumar 1993; Moorman 1995; Narver and Slater 1990). Likewise, important advances have been made in conceptualizing the key capabilities exhibited by market-oriented firms (Day 1990, 1994; Kohli and Jaworski 1990; Webster 1992, 1997).
Christine Moorman is Professor of Marketing, Fuqua School of Business, Duke University. Roland T. Rust is Madison S. Wigginton Professor of Management and Director, Center for Service Marketing, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University. This research has been sponsored by a grant from the Marketing Science Institute (MSI). The authors appreciate the research assistance of William Mackinson, Azure Fudge, Emily Goff, and Charles Mertes; the comments of Jeff Inman, Rich Oliver, Rebecca J. Slotegraaf, and participants at the MSI conference on Fundamental Issues in Marketing, where a previous version of the article was presented; and the guidance of the Special Issue editors and reviewers in preparing this article.
As marketing gains increasing prominence as a set of processes that all functions participate in deploying, a critical issue that arises is the specific contributions of the marketing function. Specifically, what role should the marketing function play, if any, in a firm that is market-oriented? Reflecting this concern, the Marketing Science Institute’s...