Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University
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The Effect of Strategic Orientation and Gender on Survival: A Study of Potential Mass Merchandising Suppliers
Vol. Volume 13, Number 1 March/2008

Tami Knotts, Stephen Jones, Karen Brown.

While a market orientation is associated with superior performance (Narver and Slater, 1990; Kara, Spillan and DeShields, 2005), it may not be the only approach for small manufacturers (Noble, Sinha and Kumar, 2002). Our study examines whether two other orientations—production and marketing—influence the survival rate for small manufacturers wanting to supply the mass merchandising marketplace. We also investigate the impact of gender-related preferences on the continued existence of these firms.

The sample for this study consisted of 1690 small, independently-owned manufacturers who participated in an evaluation program in order to become a supplier for a major mass merchandiser. Results showed that surviving firm owners placed more emphasis on production than marketing activities, while non-surviving firm owners did the opposite. When gender was considered, male-owners showed similar preferences as the general sample, but the reverse was true for female entrepreneurs. We conclude that an exclusive focus on a market orientation may be counterproductive to a firm’s long-term success. For small manufacturers in the mass merchandising industry, both a production and marketing orientation are needed to survive.



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