Markets, marketing, and marketing behaviour : an empirical examination in China and Britain
China's economic reform initiated in 1979 has brought about the partial functioning of markets and the growing interest in Western marketing on the part of academics, practitioners, and governmental bodies. In the West, despite the repeated espousal since the 1950s, marketing orientation has only been partially practised by UK and American firms, with a resultant decline in international competitiveness. Meanwhile, a number of related fundamental issues remain unexplored. This study addresses the compatibility of Western marketing with China's new setting, with a focus on the general factors encouraging and discouraging marketing orientation and the consequences thereof. A postal survey involved 254 UK firms and 636 Chinese enterprises, supplemented by two in-depth interviews. Principal component, regression, and discriminant analyses, together with t-test and analysis of variance, were performed for data analysis. The major issues in the study include: 1) characteristics of the firm adopting marketing orientation; 2) associations of marketing orientation with market structure and (governmental and corporate) control; 3) relationships between marketing orientation and performance; and 4) linkages between innovation and marketing orientation. Within this framework, the following are further examined: a) relationships among market structure, control, marketing orientation, and firm size; b) differences between the UK and China business environment and between (UK) corporate investment control and (Chinese) governmental investment control; c) structure of business orientation in UK and Chinese enterprises; and d) issues particularly relating to the Chinese context such as business behaviour and environment in different regions and enterprises of different type. The research demonstrates the nature of the embryonic stage of markets and marketing-related behaviour in China, and provides insights into business orientation in Western surroundings. A number of problems in the business orientation of UK firms and key parameters in terms of business decision and further research have been identified.