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Market Orientation and Organizational Learning Capabilities

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The platform of contemporary marketing thought is founded upon the marketing concept. While there has been much debate about the precise nature of this concept, related discussion concerning its manifestation, in the form of a firm's market orientation, has developed to suggest that it is a feature exhibited by organizations possessing superior skills in understanding and satisfying customer needs. Despite the favourable externalities likely to accrue to an organization that is market oriented, it has been claimed that for a firm to achieve its full potential to learn about the marketplace, instilling a market orientation is only a first principle. While market orientation provides the norms for responding to the marketplace, this needs to be complemented by appropriate mechanisms and processes for higher-order learning to occur. This article examines such a conceptual argument and empirically investigates the relationship between two key constructs: market orientation and organizational learning capabilities. Data were generated from a survey of medium and large industrial firms and five dimensions of organizational learning capability items are tested against two different groups of firms in terms of their degree of market orientation. As contrasted with low market orientation firms, organizations characterized by high levels of market orientation perceived greater organizational learning capability with regard to the dimensions of strategic awareness, operational flexibility, strategic development processes and managerial skills. Discussion is given to these findings and implications are drawn for business executives and future research.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 1998

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