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Title: A multi-faceted approach to the effect of export product adaptation on customer value creation
Author: Tsougkou, Lenia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 8449
Awarding Body: Loughborough University
Current Institution: Loughborough University
Date of Award: 2019
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Customers seek to maximise the value that they obtain through the products that they buy, which is why firms that provide their customers with superior value have been traditionally considered as competitively competent and able to optimise their sales and profitability. At the same time, product adaptation strategy has often been linked with enabling customer value creation, inasmuch as it enables addressing heterogeneous and changing customer needs. Consequently, the opportunity of customising products to satisfy customers with different needs and preferences, constitutes product adaptation particularly important for exporters who try to reach different customers in foreign markets. Nevertheless, the link between export product adaptation and creating customer value has not been empirically traced so far. What is more, the findings regarding whether export product adaptation is the preferred strategy or standardisation is the choice that can lead to better performance outcomes remain ambiguous. The marketing adaptation literature has suggested that this lack of unanimity calls for a re-conceptualisation of the phenomenon. This study posits that customer value creation, a central marketing concept and a mechanism for achieving market and financial goals, is a core outcome of export product adaptation activities and seeks to explore this so far empirically unexplored link. Second, in order to explore the routes by which adaptation may shape export customer value creation, this study adopts a multi-faceted conceptualisation of firm-level product adaptation that comprises export product adaptation (i) quantity, (ii) intensity and (iii) novelty. The theoretical premises of the attribute-based view of value and the means-end theory support understanding the interplay between the different facets of export product adaptation and how they shape customer value creation. Additionally, a contingency theory approach serves as the basis to synthesize the conceptual framework underpinning this study by taking into consideration the moderating effect of several internal to the firm factors and aspects of the firms' external environment. Drawing on survey data from 249 small, medium and larger Finnish exporting firms this study uses structural equation modelling (SEM) to test the hypothesised relationships. The results provide evidence to support the claim that the impact of the different aspects of export product adaptation on customer value creation is differential. The effect of quantity of export product adaptation on export customer value creation is positive, augmented by high levels of intensity but impeded by high levels of novelty of export product adaptation. The quantity - customer value creation relationship is further contingent on various internal and external factors. The results reveal that increased export product variety exerts a strong negative moderating impact on the aforementioned relationship. Additionally, conditions of the external environment where greater adaptation is beneficial for export customer value creation, and instances where greater export product adaptation is potentially harmful for export customer value creation are identified. Specifically, product regulation heterogeneity and customer dynamism act synergistically by positively moderating the above relationship, while investment uncertainty hinders the effect by acting as a negative moderator. The moderating effects of export scope, firm size, customer heterogeneity and product regulations dynamism are not empirically supported. This study concludes with a discussion of the findings in conjunction with their theoretical and managerial implications, as well as the research avenues that lie ahead.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Business and Management not elsewhere classified ; product adaptation quantity ; product adaptation intensity ; product adaptation novelty ; contingencies ; customer value creation ; attributed-based view of value ; exporting