An empirical analysis of competitive advantage in UK retailing : impact of the extended RBV on the marketing channel for white goods
This dissertation accomplishes several tasks. First it surveys the literature in the resource-base theory of a firm and retailing for establishing the vital links necessary for firm heterogeneity in the retail channel for white goods. The review depicts not only the various dimensions of the concepts of resources, capabilities and competitive behaviour on competitive advantage but also the specific organisational/inter-organisational and strategic adaptation capabilities that direct some firms to outperform other firms in this retail channel. The empirical analysis for testing competitive advantages included a main survey analysis that consisted of all retailers and another for the small retailers. A model was constructed to diffuse simultaneously the critical resources, capabilities and competitive behaviour to competitive advantages pertaining to this retail channel in the UK. Furthermore, this method of linking and ranking of key resources and capabilities to competitive advantages is expected to encourage managers to leverage existing resource positions into superior future positions. Additionally it is also expected to help regulators address competitive issues accordingly. The results indicate that in this retail channel competitive advantages were associated to key resources and key capabilities. In this study the linking of strategic adaptive capabilities to key resources highlight retailer branding enhancements from non product activities. These non-product activities were a basis for setting ex ante limits to future competition in this retail channel. The outcome of the analysis illustrates that efficiency and/or effectiveness of outlets (key resources) were subject to delivery of customer values from product portfolios that increased market shares (proxy for competitive advantage) for the retailer organisations. This study also demonstrates how retailer outlets became a source of competitive advantage by fulfilling the conditions of value, rarity, inimitability and insubstitutability. Finally, this study also reviews the current retail structure of this retail channel to understand why it could be efficient and effective than its counterparts in Europe. The result of the two surveys suggests some evidence of imperfect competition and directs attention not to the concentration of firms but to the imbalances of outlet classes prevailing in this retail channel. Moreover this study also reveals that the number of small retailer outlets prevalent in this retail channel may indirectly control to a certain degree the extent of the advantages of economies of scale/scope that is available to the larger retailers.