Exploring Proactive Market Strategies : Managing the Market to Create Value

Abstract: How can firms become more successful and achieve higher business performance? How can they manage more complex and dynamic markets and maintain a high competitiveness? The answer is: through a more proactive approach to managing the market and creating customer value. This thesis explores proactive market strategies, which are firm’s proactive strategies for creating, communicating, and delivering superior value to their customers, thereby achieving superior business performance. Prior literature in market orientation has touched the area of proactiveness in firms’ approach to the market, but never properly defines proactiveness and lacks a clear connection to actual firm activities. Thus, in order to better understand how firms can gain the performance benefits from proactiveness, this thesis sets out to explore what proactiveness in a market-strategic context entails and what proactive activities firms perform in implementing their proactive market strategies.The research is based on two papers, each detailing one of the two complementary branches of the research. The first paper presents the conceptual work, focusing on a typology of marketoriented strategic behaviors, which are important for understanding how firms can gain the potential performance benefits of market orientation and how they can achieve behavioral fit among their activities. The second paper presents the empirical work, focusing on the qualitative case study performed and the themes of proactiveness that emerged from it. These papers are then synthesized into a holistic view of proactive market strategies in the thesis.The thesis finds that proactiveness at the firm level in a marketing context means a firm is future-oriented, initiative-taking, change-inducing, and creative. With a basis in this definition and the extensive literature on market orientation, the thesis presents conceptual developments that are important for understanding proactiveness in market strategy, such as a framework for understanding market strategies through firm activities and one for identifying and categorizing different types of proactive activities. Furthermore, the thesis gives more detailed descriptions of the case firms and how their proactive activities help them achieve success.This results in a thorough exploration of proactive market strategies, which contributes to the marketing and strategic management literatures by clearly defining proactiveness, conceptualizing and describing proactive market strategies, and delineating proactive firm activities to better understand how firms are being proactive. In doing so, the thesis provides interesting directions for future research and presents interesting implications for managerial practice.  

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