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Article

Effective Forms of Market Orientation across the Business Cycle: A Longitudinal Analysis of Business-to-Business Firms

Industrial Marketing Management. 2016. Vol. 52. No. C. P. 91-99.
Iya Churakova, Frösén J., Jaakkola M., Tikkanen H.

Macroeconomic developments, such as the business cycle, have a remarkable influence on firms and their performance. In business-to-business (B-to-B) markets characterized by a strong emphasis on long-term customer relationships, market orientation (MO) provides a particularly important safeguard for firms against fluctuating market forces. Using panel data from an economic upturn and downturn, we examine the effectiveness of different forms of MO (i.e., customer orientation, competitor orientation, interfunctional coordination, and their combinations) on firm performance in B-to-B firms. Our findings suggest that the impact of MO increases especially during a downturn, with interfunctional coordination clearly boosting firm performance and, conversely, competitor orientation becoming even detrimental. The findings further indicate that both the role of MO and its most effective forms vary across industry sectors, MO having a particularly strong impact on performance among B-to-B service firms. The findings of our study provide guidelines for executives to better manage performance across the business cycle and tailor their investments in MO more effectively, according to the firm's specific industry sector.