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Journal of Marketing Insights in the Classroom

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

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

Journal of Marketing Insights in the Classroom

JM Insights in the Classroom

Article: ​
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.

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.

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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Topic Areas: ​
Consumer Culture; Marketing Leadership; Marketing Organization; and Marketing Strategy​​​​

Related Marketing Courses
Marketing StrategyPrinciples of Marketing, Core Marketing, Introduction to Marketing Management


Special thanks to Kelley Gullo, 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.