Standardization in International Marketing Strategy Is Doomed to Failure: Literature Review and Methodological Critique

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Standardization in International Marketing Strategy is doomed to failure: Literature review and methodological critique. The literature on standardization of international marketing strategy has rapidly increased in amount since Levitt (1983) suggested the main concept that business strategies and their influences on firm performance should be universal through national markets which are very much alike culturally, economically and politically, in spite of limited empirical evidence focused directly on this topic. He pointed out that world markets are becoming more and more identical and therefore a standardized approach to company operations, productions, marketing and other functions is feasible and advisable. This review focuses on a limited number of articles written since the first issue of standardization that addressed the aspect of advertising by Elinder in 1961, and selected from the main journals in business and management theory. There has been an ongoing debate about positive and negative aspects of business strategy based on total standardization across national markets, in contrast with complete adaptation strategies to individual markets (Leonidou, 2003). The first section of the study makes an observation of methodological orientations of selected literature; meanwhile the second section claims that worldwide markets have become so uniform and homogeneous that international corporations are given the opportunity of marketing standardized products and services around the world using identical strategies with the aim of cutting down expenditures and increasing profits (Jain, 1989). Furthermore, Clark (1990) argues that such elements of marketing process as product positioning, naming, branding etc., and customer services affect the degree of standardization in marketing strategy in different ways. However, the main finding of this review is that the degree of standardization or adaptation of marketing strategy designed to achieve higher financial indicators, directly depends on particular foreign markets and the time under consideration (Czinkota & Samli, 2007). Methodological Orientations

According to Samiee and Roth (1992) the global standardization does take place in the modern market, but there is neither an optimal approach for all market places and for the whole range of company products, nor a single strategy that will suit all marketing elements, necessarily to the same extent. Riesenbeck and Freeling (1991) assert that a focus on desired degree of standardization or adaptation through different elements of competitive strategy variables such as advertising, branding, sale promotion and pricing will give more effect than approaches with total standardization or adaptation. There is, however, a very limited discussion on methodology used in the standardization in international marketing strategy in the selected literature that does take place at market. Birnik and Bowman (2007) define their research design as the underlying epistemological notion based on pragmatism. In the same way, Clark’s paper contains a satisfactory discussion on methodology. He methodologically describes every selected study and their limitations that can influence further findings although other academics reviewed do not classify themselves epistemologically or ontologically oriented. Nonetheless, it is obvious that the literature in this review has a predominantly positivist orientation. The paper by Birnik and Bowman (2007) presents findings of systematic literature review approach on marketing mix standardization elements in practices of global corporations. The design of work is based on pragmatism as the underlying epistemological orientation. Their review has tried to synthesize the probative base in relation to marketing mix standardization in order to identify the ‘best evidence’ of standardization in practice of multinational corporations and to extract solution concepts for further use by management...
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