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The economic power of B2B transactions hasn't been reflected in the amount of published research in marketing journals, and the relevance for practitioners of the studies issued has been questioned during the last 20 years. How can we bring academicians and practitioners together? After studying the history of B2B marketing, building on configuration theory, and prospecting the future challenges for marketers, the authors argue that the research efforts should be focused on six major areas of inquiry: Innovation, Customer Journey and Relationship Value, Data Analytics, Harnessing Technology, Marketing/Finance Interface and Revenue Growth, and Industry Context or Ecosystem. Specifically, they propose 20 theoretical sub-categories that are compelling for academicians and relevant for B2B marketers. The research conclusions and propositions were established by an expert panel through an exhaustive ranking-type Delphi method and refined using a coding scheme from grounded theory. The authors discuss the implications for theory development and managerial interest.
7. Limitations and further research
We gained insights through an iterative Delphi panel of researchers from the review board of three prestigious journals coupled with literature review and post hoc discussions. Although the participants represented a wide range of countries, there is a North American bias with 56.41% of the panel coming from the US and Canada. From the pool of 269 reviewers, only 74 (27.51%) belong to countries outside North America. Therefore, our sample is more harmonious than the output of a random procedure. This study has a lesser level of Eastern (i.e., Asia) representation, with only two participants from China and South Korea. International experience of the Delphi panel offsets this issue to some extent. We acknowledge that the study depicts a view more representative of the Western developed economies. Eastern thinking and practice are important and have created new business models, including e-commerce clusters (e.g., Alibaba). Hence, this is direction for future research and the perspective could be analyzed separately or integrated in a comparative regional study. In addition, as discussed earlier, more work is needed to identify the methods that better fit to close the theory/practice gap and to understand the role played by intermediaries (i.e., consultants) in the dissemination of scholarly models and theories. We hope that this study will inspire researchers to develop more advanced and relevant theories of B2B marketing. Judging by the richness of the proposed research agenda, the future of B2B marketing is promising.