Dynamic marketing capabilities as drivers of international channel integration: is this true for Latin American SMEs?
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Purpose This paper aims to determine the relationship between dynamic marketing capabilities (DMCs) and the integration of distribution channels of exporting companies from Latin American (LATAM) countries and how this relationship will impact the international development of a company. Design/methodology/approach This qualitative study uses the explanatory multiple case approach of Yin (2011) to test the research questions, revise existing theories and establish causal relationships from semi-structured interviews that were applied to 15 Peruvian and Colombian companies. To analyze qualitative data and ensure credibility, the authors applied six stages of Sinkovics and Alfoldi’s (2012) methodology. For analysis, computer-based qualitative software was used. Findings The study reveals the following: a set of specific DMCs that effectively help agro-food companies generate synergy with their intermediaries to launch their first international ventures; a better understanding of how the market orientation as a DMC is, rather than a multi-dimensional organization which mediates other marketing processes; the impact of DMCs in channel integration that changes with respect to agents and distributors. Producers and distributors developed networking, market adaptation and innovation capabilities. At the same time, agents also developed market orientation capabilities to provide relevant product information, manage transactions and fulfill orders without regard to market adaptation capabilities. Research limitations/implications Qualitative methodology was applied, limiting the generalization of the findings. The authors also emphasized the initial stages of internationalization without considering other advanced processes that could be useful for larger LATAM companies, which operate in different foreign countries and manage multiple channels. As a result, this study lays the foundation for establishing a model that will enhance a quantitative measurement to support the findings. Practical implications This study illustrates specific marketing techniques that are useful to better identify and coordinate intermediaries, especially agents and distributors to ease their internationalization processes. The research also provides a framework for marketing managers to leverage the DMCs developed by the different actors of the distribution channel, as well as, obtaining positive outcomes in communication, information on products and services, transactions and customer service functions. Finally, managers and professionals can find a methodology to evaluate how DMCs can be developed to optimize their internationalization processes through the integration of the main channel functions. This will broaden their vision on the usefulness and scalability of this type of dynamic capabilities in key business processes for the generation and sustainability of competitive advantages. Social implications If producers identify DMCs, they will promote ethical business practices that may reduce their vulnerability and risk with more experienced international intermediaries. This leads to favoring the socio-economic equity of the territories with traditional economies in which they operate. Originality/value The study provides a set of DMCs that influence the functions of distribution channels and favors international processes in small and medium enterprises which then offer a better understanding of the definition and applicability of this construct in the agro-food sector in LATAM. This study also gives a structural perspective to determine which functions of the distribution channel should be integrated and how depending on the type of intermediary (agents and distributors).