Marketing Strategy Formation in the Commercialization of New Technologies

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Vincent, Leslie Harris
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This research contributes significantly to the current marketing strategy literature by examining the effective formation of marketing strategies for new technologies outside traditional organizational boundaries. This important question must be addressed considering that at any given time roughly 10.1 million adults in the U.S. are attempting to create new ventures, yet the rate of new venture failures is approximately 70 percent. Therefore it is important to step away from examining innovation and marketing strategy formation within traditional domains (i.e. large organizations) and instead focus on innovations outside organizational boundaries that generate 60 to 80 percent of new jobs annually. In particular, considering the high rate of new venture failure, what characteristics increase the likelihood of success in the commercialization of new technologies? This research seeks to answer these compelling questions, and provide a more process-based approach to studying the effective development of marketing strategies for new technologies. Using a dynamic capabilities framework, the role of internal and external capabilities in driving marketing strategy effectiveness for inventions developed in university labs is explored. The key to building a conceptual framework based upon the dynamic capabilities perspective is to identify the building blocks upon which competitive advantages can be formed, sustained, and improved. One such foundation is knowledge transfer, or learning. The focus of this research is on two distinct components of knowledge transfer: network ties and absorptive capacity. Past research has shown that network ties provide access to information that can be beneficial to performance outcomes (Tsai and Ghoshal 1998; Tsai 2001). In addition to this external source of information, an internal learning capacity must also be present in order to absorb and utilize the information coming in. Both network ties and absorptive capacity have been found to play a key role in both innovation and superior performance outcomes (Cohen and Levinthal 1990; Tsai 2001). Therefore it is expected that both network ties and absorptive capacity will have a complementary impact on marketing strategy effectiveness (marketing strategy performance, marketing strategy creativity, and marketing strategy improvisation). The sample for this research comes from a unique multidisciplinary program within the university setting. Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results (TI:GER) is a two-year team based program that focuses on integrating science and engineering research with the other components (business and law) necessary for commercialization. The teams’ primary objective is that of developing a commercialization strategy for research developed within university laboratories. This study will collect data from pre-startup teams throughout their participation in the program. In addition, objective outcome measures for marketing strategy effectiveness will be collected from outside industry experts and team supervisors. The longitudinal panel data thus collected will be analyzed using random effects and generalized method of moments (GMM) modeling to account for the dependencies inherent to panel data. There has been very little empirical research on the formation of strategies at the team level and furthermore, even less research examining the formation of strategies for technologies that were developed outside traditional organizational boundaries and without a predefined market application. Overall, this research will not only contribute significantly to the current innovation and marketing strategy literature, but will also open up new avenues of research in marketing entrepreneurship.
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