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Creating a Market Orientation: A Longitudinal, Multifirm, Grounded Analysis of Cultural Transformation

Creating a Market Orientation: A Longitudinal, Multifirm, Grounded Analysis of Cultural Transformation

Gary F. Gebhardt, Gregory S. Carpenter and John Sherry

JM Insights in the Classroom

Teaching Insight:

The research by Gebhardt, Carpenter and Sherry shows that the creation of a market-oriented firm involves several interdependent changes at the individual, group, and organization levels that occur over several years. As reflected in their model, creating a market-oriented organization is essentially a process of cultural transformation. The basis for the new culture is a set of six organizational values that support related behavioural norms and, finally, result in the market-oriented behaviours indicative of a market orientation. Slides include text notes for the instructor paraphrased from the printed manuscript to help guide the explanation.


Research by Gebhardt, Carpenter and Sherry shows that the creation of a market-oriented firm involves several interdependent changes at the individual, group, and organization levels that occur over several years. As reflected in their model, creating a market-oriented organization is essentially a process of cultural transformation. The basis for the new culture is a set of six organizational values that support related behavioural norms and, finally, result in the market-oriented behaviours indicative of a market orientation. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

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Related Marketing Courses: ​: ​
Principles of Marketing, Core Marketing, Introduction to Marketing Management and Marketing Strategy​​​​

Full Citation: ​
Gebhardt, Gary F., Gregory S. Carpenter, and John F. Sherry, Jr. (2006), “Creating a Market Orientation: A Longitudinal, Multifirm, Grounded Analysis of Cultural Transformation,” Journal of Marketing, 70 (4), 37-54.

Article Abstract
Market orientation is a foundation of marketing and is increasingly important in other fields, such as strategic management. Research in marketing has identified the characteristics of market-oriented organizations. However, how organizations change to become more market oriented has received less attention. In this article, the authors conduct an in-depth, longitudinal, multifirm investigation of firms that have successfully created a market orientation. Grounded by this in-depth understanding, they develop a theoretical model to explain how firms create a market orientation. The model identifies four path-dependent stages of change. In contrast to current conceptualizations, the authors find that creating a market orientation requires dramatic changes to an organization’s culture and the creation of organizationally shared market understandings. The findings offer new insights into how organizations develop a greater market orientation, organizational change, and the nature of market orientation, including the role of intraorganizational power and organizational learning in creating and sustaining a market orientation.

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Special thanks to Kelley Gullo, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke University, for her support in working with authors on submissions to this program. 

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Gary F. Gebhardt is Associate Professor, Department of Marketing, HEC Montréal, Canada.

Gregory S. Carpenter is James Farley/Booz Allen Hamilton Professor of Marketing Strategy, Director of the Center for Market Leadership, and Faculty Director of the Markets and Customers Initiative, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.