Marketing planning in theory and practice

Cousins, Laura (1994) Marketing planning in theory and practice. Doctoral thesis, University of London: London Business School. OPEN ACCESS


Textbooks consistently describe marketing planning as a certain sequence of analyses and decisions. Previous research has shown that practitioners do not follow this textbook model, but authors offer few descriptive or critical insights Our broader conceptualisation includes the context in which planning operates. Planning has many facets: we focus on the scope and formality of the process in its intended use as an organising framework for decisions. We identify six assumptions relating to this focus in the textbook model: that it should be a systematised process, involving top management, leading to a single best style of written output, which realises multiple benefits and is universally desirable. Our analysis identifies some tensions in the model. Our survey describes marketing planning behaviour in 385 organisations with and without "marketing plans", and explores the boundaries within which these assumptions hold. Our findings suggest that one reason why practitioners' plans do not follow the textbook model is that the model's scope exceeds their decision-making responsibility. The actual scope varied. Most included budget objectives. Some included strategy formulation (especially where top management were involved), andlor action plans (especially where planning was systematised and closely linked to budgeting). Our results challenge many textbook assertions. Neither the scope of the textbook model nor its recommended formality was consistently associated with superior perceived relative profitability. Firms without a written plan were about as likely to have "real" marketing planning (defined as "integrated decision-making based on explicit marketing analysis") as firms with. Firms' performance varied with the formality of their planning processes according to their environment. Only in mature environments was formality associated, even weakly, with improved performance. In environments with high growth potential. formality was associated with lower performance. We suggest a contingency theory of planning, which makes explicit trade-offs between control and flexibility.

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Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subject Areas: Marketing
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2022 11:34
Date of first compliant deposit: 25 Feb 2022
Subjects: Marketing strategy
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2022 17:58

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