Marketing in indigenous and Asian small firms in the West Midlands.
This study is concerned with examining the application of marketing during the start-up, development and growth of small firms in the West Midlands. As an exploratory study, it provides evidence to support the central hypothesis of the thesis that whilst many small firms have the potential to progress through to the successful growth stage of development, they fail to do so because of their owner-managers' orientation towards production and selling and because they do not apply formal marketing during the initial stages of business development. A comparative approach to studying marketing in indigenous and Asian firms is adopted in an attempt to fill a gap in the literature on the characteristics and differences in the formation and development processes of these two groups of enterprises. The study has three main objectives and is based on qualitative research techniques of in-depth interviews, case studies and longitudinal studies among sixty-six firms representing the key activities of the small firms sector of the local economy. Firstly, it investigates owner-managers' orientation in developing and managing new and established businesses and explores the sources of, and changes in their orientation during the various stages of development. Secondly, it assesses the owner-manager's awareness and understanding of what constitutes the marketing function and investigates what aspects of marketing are applied during the different stages of business development. Finally, the study monitors and evaluates the outcomes and implications of applying formal marketing techniques in a small sample of firms over a period of two years. The thesis concludes by using the findings of the study to contribute additions to existing models of growth and by proposing new models of evolution and application of marketing in small firms.