to discuss the characteristics of small-firm marketing decision-making and how they aredifferent to conventional large company marketing;
to understand the critical role of enterpreneurial behaviour by reviewing closely linkedentrepreneurial and marketing characteristics and assessing their impact on small-firmsmarketing;
to propose approaches to market research, customer focus, selling, delivery, and pricingthat are appropriate for small firms.
THIS chapter begins with a consideration of the differences between small firms and largecompanies, such as size (obviously), organization structures, and functional frameworks. Theseissues are considered in terms of how they impact upon decision-making, particularly withregards to resources, expertise, and market impact. The chapter then discusses the characteristics of small-firm marketing decision-making and howthey are different from conventional largecompany marketing. An entrepreneurial influence isconsidered by reviewing closely linked entrepreneurial and marketing characteristics andassessing their impact on small-firm marketing.Inherent influences on marketing are discussed, such as costs and budgets, industryinfrastructures, experiential knowledge possessed and used by the small-firm owner manager,and the importance of market knowledge. Further discussion shows how these inherentinfluences impact upon small-firm marketing. Examples of small-firm marketing are presented asillustrations and as contrasts to much of the conventional marketing theories presented in thetextbook literature. These examples consider an export development approach that outflanks theknown ‘barriers’ to developing international markets. Also included are ‘alternative’ approachesto market research, customer focus, selling, delivery, and pricing. Finally, some ‘solutions’ areoffered for improving the efficiency and sufficiency of smallfirm marketing, focusing on theimportance of marketing ‘competencies’ and ‘networking’ as the basis of improving marketingefficiency, overcoming deficiencies and outlining ‘quality’ improvements in small-firm marketingdecision making. Throughout the chapter, the term ‘small firm’ will be taken to encompass SME (small to medium-sized enterprise), and thus to mean anything from a self-employed individual to a company withseveral hundred employees but that still behaves more like a small enterprise than a largecorporation. Similarly, the terms entrepreneur, entrepreneurial, and owner manager areconsidered as meaning largely the same in the context of marketing decision-making in smallfirms. The author would like to thank Dr A. Gilmore, D. Cummins, and A. O'Donnell, University of Ulster,for their assistance.
2.1 Management and marketing decision-making in large companies
In large organizations decision-making is made within a highly structured and orderedframework. Decision-making has a clear hierarchy depending upon the scope and focus of adecision. There are clear boundaries of responsibility whereby decisions can be taken. In such adecision-making structure there will be close coordination and cooperation between the variousdecision-making domains. In addition, because of the diversity of decision-making and thenumber of decision-makers, time scales for decision- making are likely to be long. This inevitablyintroduces a planning element in large-company decision-making. These are just a few of the characteristics of large-company decision-making, but they serve tohighlight the context in which decisions are made, and indeed, the essence of suchdecisionmaking. Typical managerial tasks are based upon strong theoretical foundations. For