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Editorial
Department of Marketing and Strategy, Stockholm School of Economics.
2014 (English)In: The journal of business & industrial marketing, ISSN 0885-8624, E-ISSN 2052-1189, Vol. 29, no 7/8, 561- p.Article in journal, Editorial material (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

Contemporary managers regularly face complex multifunctional problems. Unfortunately, researchers are not always there to help them. The research conducted within the business-to-business (B2B) field is often of a high quality and magnitude, but does not always seem to reach managers to a great extent. There are also signs that the gap between managers and researchers could be especially significant when it comes to industrial marketing (Brennan and Turnbull, 2000, 2002; Ankers and Brennan, 2002). We believe that this development could jeopardize the long-term health of the B2B marketing field and that further elaboration is called for; hence, this special issue. We are not alone −82 per cent of B2B marketing researchers believe it is “important” or “very important” for research to be of potential value to managers (Brennan and Turnbull, 2000).

Despite the fact that almost all published articles have a section on how results could be of use for managers, these managerial implications are somehow out of reach for most managers. This special issue is dedicated to exploring and enhancing the understanding of the gap between managers and researchers – why it is there, what it consists of – and presenting various perspectives on how it can be bridged, or at least narrowed.

The first two articles serve as introductions to the discussion of this issue, by giving a feel for what managerial implications typically look like in contemporary articles within our field. The first article, by Salminen, Oinonen and Haimala, provides insights into the character of managerial implications in articles on the theme of solution business; it does this by applying Jaworski’s (2011) framework for role-relevant research to classify the implications. Baraldi, La Rocca and Perna’s article assesses the characteristics of managerial implications in 60 most-cited articles within B2B marketing. The implications are classified in terms of features that the authors believe have an impact on the ready to use quality of findings for managers (e.g. how easy is it to find implications in the text, the extent to which scientific language is used and how concrete the implications are, etc.).

While these first two articles concern the researcher side of the gap – that is, the characteristics of what is “posted to managers” under the managerial implications headline – the third article, by Kusuula, Närvänen, Saarijärvi and Yrjölä, accounts for the manager side of the gap; that is, top executives’ perceptions regarding academia’s results, as addressed to them. Using these opinions as a backdrop, the authors list the relevance challenges for B2B marketing by using a framework developed by Arndt (1985) regarding scientific balance.

The six remaining articles in this special issue focus on how the gap between managers and researchers can be narrowed. Brennan, Tzempelikos and Wilson’s article takes a process view of research and lists critical structural elements and communication areas in which further improvement is needed for academia to reach out to managers. Their recommendations concern four groups of stakeholders: researchers, practitioners, policymakers and academic managers.

The next five articles have a distinct common theme: one of the major reasons for the widening division between researchers and practitioners is the fact that managers’ realities are characterized by an immense complexity that research has not been able to keep up with. The authors of these articles are unanimous in arguing that the relevance of our research will increase if it manages to embrace complexity to a greater extent, rather than reducing it at early stages in the research process. These articles also underscore the need to reconsider the nature of the methodological approach that researchers use.

The first in this set of articles, by Guiette, Matthyssens and Vandenbempt, argues that complexity calls for a more mindful approach to organizing (by both researchers and practitioners) to better understand and manage strategic change processes. By this, they mean that (business) marketing on a strategic level has little to offer in the way of guidance, taking complexity, interdependence and emergence into account. The next two articles emphasize the need for broader, more condensed and abstract conceptualizations to grasp this complexity, which will enhance the relevance for managers. For better real-world-based theories, Gummesson argues that we should strive to establish comprehensive and abstract theories that have the potential to “boil down” complexity to its core, and that this can be accomplished by case theory, and more involved (action) research.

Based on the grounded theory methodology, Gustavsson and Åge deliver further recommendations for research in terms of how to create abstract conceptualizations that are able to capture core processes, and they also discuss the possible intricacies involved in such endeavors. The study by Åge shows how managers in three different companies have actually used such abstract conceptualizations as creative devices to tackle challenges. Cederlund emphasizes the role of managerial relevance in the research process – an underrated opportunity for theoretical developments within B2B marketing – which ties together the discussions in the preceding four articles. By placing practice in a research process perspective, she highlights the epistemological remedies for closing the relevance gap and illustrates why managerial relevance is not prioritized on the research agenda.

In total, the nine contribute to this special issue’s aim of providing a more nuanced picture of what managerial relevance is and why it is needed. Our aim is to create the platform for a discussion that favors the development of the B2B marketing filed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 29, no 7/8, 561- p.
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hig:diva-24802DOI: 10.1108/JBIM-05-2014-0095ISI: 000343398500001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hig-24802DiVA: diva2:1129927
Available from: 2017-08-07 Created: 2017-08-07 Last updated: 2017-08-14Bibliographically approved

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