Marketing Specialist Knowledge and Its Influence
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Calls to further understand the marketing department’s role and influence (e.g., Dibb, Simões, & Wensley, 2014; Homburg, Vomberg, Enke, & Grimm, 2014; Marketing Science Institute, 2018), prompted this research to examine marketing specialist knowledge and its influence using a Practice Theory approach. Its objectives include classifying the marketing specialists’ knowledge domains and identifying their practices and praxes as they planned, developed, implemented, and appraised a recent marketing project. To further distinguish marketing specialist knowledge and influence, their use of practices were identified at three levels, namely among other marketing specialists, their firm, and their market. The constitution of each of their knowledge domain practices was sought as well as their thinking and decision-making practices. The goal was to understand how and why the marketing specialists’ knowledge was influential during their project work. This topic is interesting as marketing academics have been calling for further studies on the roles and activities of marketing practitioners. For example, Jaworski (2011, p. 212) points out that we have only a “superficial, outdated knowledge of marketing roles and positions within firms”. Also, Skålén and Hackley (2011) raised concerns over “the relative lack of ‘bottom-up’ empirical research into how marketing is actually done in organizations” (p. 189). Further, Dibb et al., (2014) indicated that a lack of inductive research is a concern for those who would like concrete descriptions of what marketers do (Skålén & Hackley, 2011; Svensson, 2007; Webster, 2002). Although research shows marketing departments add value to firms, scholars claim that we are still bereft of intelligence relating to the everyday work and social interaction of marketing practitioners (Dibb et al., 2014; Jaworski, 2011). Additionally, reports on the marketing department’s declining influence in firms also provided impetus toward this research (cf. Homburg et al., 2014). Data from board members, senior management, marketing specialists, personnel, shareholders, and stakeholders of four New Zealand firms that carried out a marketing project were collected and analysed. Sources of data were semi-structured one-on-one interviews and focus groups and their transcriptions; marketing specialists' reflective journals, and marketing project artefacts were also collected. The conceptual model summarising this research provides some interesting insights into the knowledge and influence of marketing specialists. First, the findings suggest that marketing specialists are distinguished by five knowledge domains, namely: marketing expertise, organisation familiarity, market intelligence, leadership, and life experiences. The findings identify and discuss twelve practices within these knowledge domains and discuss the resulting praxes of marketing specialists at either the marketing specialist, firm, or market levels. Further, a description of how each of the practices is constituted by their procedures, understandings, and engagements is given, providing an in-depth, practice-based account of marketing specialist knowledge. Next, the marketing specialists’ consulting, thinking, and judgement-making processes are analysed and discussed, including the phenomenon described in this research as revelatory influences or ideas. Following on, the practices are discussed in terms of their subsequent praxes, or the activities that the marketing specialists carried out, which links to their influence at each level. In doing so, the findings fill gaps in our knowledge regarding what marketing specialists do, how they think, how market orientation is performed, and how marketing projects are carried out. Hence, this research has answered calls to eschew simple categorisations and produce a nuanced account of marketing work, evidencing pluralistic ways in which marketing activities were constituted and practised (Ardley & Quinn, 2014; Skålén & Hackley, 2011; Svensson, 2007). The study also affirms how indispensable and complementary marketing specialists are regarding their firm's project-related performance and their firm's market orientation.