Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Program Name/Specialization



Lazaridis School of Business and Economics

First Advisor

Dr. Nicole Coviello

Advisor Role

Dr. Sarah Wilner

Second Advisor

Dr. Chatura Ranaweera


Capabilities theories have been the subject of robust research efforts since being bridged into the Marketing domain from the organizational strategy literature approximately 25 years ago. While much empirical work has been performed to establish and clarify the relationships between marketing capabilities and firm performance, little work has been done in the ensuing period to describe and clarify the construct itself in the period ensuing its introduction to the marketing domain.

This has led to a large yet unchanging body of research founded upon a relatively vague construct. Marketing capabilities theory offers the domain an interesting means to explain marketing’s contribution to firm performance. It potentially accounts for how firms use knowledge, skill, routine and tangible assets in unique combinations to the end of superior performance. Descriptions of marketing capabilities, however, do not distinguish whether the construct reflects managerial intention or de facto firm action. Nor are the immediate ends of marketing capabilities, their relationship to market orientation, and their potential negative characterizations considered. Without a clear description of the marketing capabilities construct itself, this body of research rests on a tenuous foundation.

This monograph uses a multi-method approach to refine and clarify the description of marketing capabilities. Scientometric and corpus linguistic methodologies are employed to identify definitional issues in the description of marketing capabilities. A “big data” corpus of nearly 4.5 million words and a bibliometric data set of over 6,000 citations are used to explore the how the phrase ‘marketing capabilities’ is employed within the marketing and management research domains. This data is supplemented by an additional analysis of 172 survey-type measures extracted from 597 papers about marketing capabilities published in marketing domain journals.

The data analysis results in several suggestions for the amelioration of the marketing capabilities construct. This includes two-dimensional conceptualization that is derived from the added analysis of related constructs from evolutionary economics that demands specified intermediate ends and eliminates direct competitive comparison. In addition, a new and related construct - marketing incapability - is put forward. Also, a critical analysis of the role of market orientation in the marketing capabilities literature is provided. The conflicting interpretations of market orientation are analyzed in order to provide recommendations for how to situate this venerable construct within the marketing capabilities literature in the future.

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