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The study advances an innovative conceptualization of the marketing strategies developed by Port Authorities (PAs), framing a relevant case of hybrid organisation into a business marketing perspective. PAs have transformed to hybrid organizations mostly disassociated from operational activities and port services provision. Still, they maintain a key role as managing bodies advancing the prospects of respective port and associate clusters. Marketing is among the functions working towards this end. Aiming to advance theoretical constructs and related empirical research, the paper employs business marketing perspectives and their applications in hybrid organisations to introduce a novel conceptualization of PA marketing strategies. Within this theoretical angle, the study builds a multi-dimensional framework on PA strategic positioning that combines (a) PAs’ marketing objectives in various Strategic Business Areas (SBAs), (b) the multifaceted geography of the targeted salient stakeholders, and (c) the induced portfolio of marketing actions, whose ramifications unveil virtuous cross-fertilization effects (CFEs) and fuel the success of PA marketing strategies. This model enables to identify five different patterns of market coverage across diverse SBAs.
6. Concluding remarks
This study introduces a novel conceptualisation of PA marketing strategies. Framing a relevant case of a hybrid organisation into a business marketing perspective, it theorises the PA strategic positioning based on marketing objectives, targeted port stakeholders, and the implied portfolio of marketing actions. This work defines a three-layered framework understanding the complex design of a PA marketing positioning across interlinked SBAs. The hybridity of PAs is smoothly recognized in the detailed modelling that includes marketing objectives embedded into different SBAs.
This theorisation contributes to scholarly research in a number of ways. First, the adoption of a business marketing perspective allows an original outline of the marketing objectives of PAs in different SBAs. Second, the detailed novel multi-dimensional construct captures the hybridity of the PA marketing approach across different, but closely interlinked, SBAs. Consequently, it provides a framework for understanding and analysing the main types of CFEs that materialise both within a SBA and among various SBAs. CFEs are value multipliers for the PA as well as the entire port cluster, given the synergies produced in the dense architecture of marketing actions.
Third, the defined model underlines the role of the portfolio of marketing actions in firm value co-creation (Rao and Bharadwaj, 2008; Srinivasan and Hanssens, 2009; Stewart, 2009), as a strategic marketing tool to define the PA positioning, demonstrating a conceptual bridge between marketing objectives and targeted stakeholders. It also recognises the emergence of organisational challenges for PAs as regards the management of this portfolio. Fourth, consistently with the strategic marketing literature (Day and Wensley, 1983; Kotler and Keller, 2009; Varadarajan, 2010), the study determines a relevant taxonomy of the strategic positioning of the PA, based on present patterns of market coverage (i.e. concentration, specialization, full market) in the maritime logistics industry.