Marketing Intelligence of Sales Force and Intermediate Role of Organizational Commitment
Marketing intelligence is amongst marketing and behavioral concepts that have received inconsiderable attention. Although, marketing intelligence may be regarded as peripheral duty of sales force, because of their boundary position, they can offer their company direct access to important information about competitors and customers. In this research, it has been paid to managerial (communication, participation in decision-making, feedback, recognition) factors that were influenced by individual factor such as organizational commitment. The revised proposed model shows that organizational commitment is the most important factors that motivating behavioral effort of sales force toward marketing intelligence activities and managerial communication and motivation toward marketing intelligence has more effectiveness to organizational commitment.
Received: August 01, 2011;
Accepted: November 19, 2011;
Published: December 29, 2011
Although, salespersons represent a unique and important channel of information,
few of them contribute efficiently to marketing intelligence (Bon
and Merunka, 2006). Marketing intelligence is the ability to fully understand,
analyze and assess the internal and external environment related to a companys
customers, competitors, markets and industry to enhance the tactical and strategic
decision-making process. This is evidence of the fact that competitive intelligence
officers play a pivotal role in the strategic intelligence decision-making process
and can help facilitate knowledge sharing within the organization (Huster,
2005). Marketing information systems enable marketing and sales managers
to identify, interpret and react to competitive signals and are key elements
leading to efficient marketing strategies and actions. The marketing intelligence
system is a set of procedures and sources used to obtain everyday information
about pertinent developments in the marketing environment (Kotler,
2002). Therefore, marketing intelligence provides a continuous flow of information
about very diverse market events that might affect the companys competitive
position. Information is mainly descriptive, essentially based on observation
and its goal is to provide managers with general enlightenment about an ongoing
competitive market situation.
Salespeople have long been recognized as primary sources of marketing intelligence
as their additional efforts to gather environmental information create few additional
costs for the company. Because of their boundary position, salespeople can offer
their company direct access to important information about competitors and customers.
Due to their daily presence in the field and favored relationships with customers,
salespeople can be exposed to rumors about their customers or competitors
projects, learn about new product launches before they take place, discover
new products in test market areas, gather information about the discount and
pricing policies of competitors, note changes in customers or distributors
policies and behavior, gather point-of-purchase information on promotional activities
and effectiveness and so forth (Bon and Merunka, 2006).
but, it seems difficult to mobilize the sales force to engage in marketing intelligence
activities. Salespeople do not always adequately communicate important information
to marketing and sales managers and few salespersons transmit the information
they observe or collect in the field; the information that is transmitted may
also be biased (Darmon, 1992).
Nevertheless, the specified importance of intelligently participating salesforces in marketing affair and their vital role in collection and transfer the information, rarely researches have accomplished about understanding and clarifying salesforce behavior. Because of regard to sales force marketing intelligence concept contributes worthy at marketing activates in organizations and corporations and it provides growth and sublimity of them in presenting vastly in market, so, main question of present research focuses on recognition of managerial and personal factors that can explain sales force behavior shifts related on information collection and transfer.
Marketing intelligence and its importance for sales forces: A marketing
intelligence system is a set of procedures and sources used by managers to obtain
their everyday information about pertinent developments in the environment in
which they operate. The marketing intelligence system supplies data about the
market. And other definition of marketing intelligence system is that it is
a system for capturing the necessary information for business marketing decision
making (Mochtar and Arditi, 2001). If a company utilizes
marketing intelligence systems, the output can result in sound marketing decisions
which can be one of the best sources of competitive advantage (Lackman
et al., 2000). When a company is able to accurately assess the competition
by gathering competitive information, it is in a better position to build differentiation
for their company. It may be that one company in the competitive set is the
low cost provider and the other company has a superior process for providing
the service (Johns and Van Doren, 2010). Daily, customers,
rivals, suppliers and employments provide benefit informational bits for business
owners. Customers talk with firm labors, rivals enclose their programs with
customers, employment seeks opportunities and experimental problems and suppliers
discuss with people. Gathering systematical these free data and using it for
powering commerce is the main challenge (Bon and Merunka,
2006). It is, therefore, essential for marketing intelligence officers to
work with marketing strategists and develop appropriate marketing intelligence
systems that allow customer relationships to be mapped, modeled and then translated
into new buyer behavior models (Trim and Lee, 2006).
As a global concept, marketing information can best be understood by its decomposition
into marketing research and marketing intelligence. Although, both activities
aim at collecting and providing information to management for better and more
timely decision-making purposes, marketing research and marketing intelligence
differ in three key aspects: the flow of information, the type of information
provided and the use of information (Bon and Merunka, 2006).
Marketing intelligence is viewed in its totality as a continuing and interacting
structure of people, equipment and procedures to gather, sort, analyze and distribute
pertinent, timely and accurate information for use by marketing decision makers
to improve their marketing planning, implementation and control (Tan
and Ahmed, 1999). In other word, marketing intelligence is the product of
collection, evaluation, analysis, integration and interpretation of all available
information that may affect the survival and success if the company (Trim
and Lee, 2008). Market intelligence serves four primary purposes. These
||Competitors assessment and tracking
||Early warnings of opportunities and threats
||Support for strategic planning and implementation
||Support of strategic decision-making
Marketing research on the other hand is the systematic and objective identification,
collection, analysis and dissemination of information for the purpose of assisting
management in decision making related to the identification and solution of
problems and opportunities in marketing (Tan and Ahmed,
1999) market research activities are devoted to the collection and analysis
of data linked to precise research questions such as new product acceptance
or advertising effectiveness. Therefore, information is discontinuous and planned.
A piece of market research information corresponds to a defined goal and focused
objectives. Information collected needs to be precise, carefully measured, controlled
and analyzed and the results obtained should enable managers to reduce decision-making
uncertainty (Bon and Merunka, 2006). Sales force of
an organization is the most important factor that is responsible for entering
data and information to marketing intelligence system whiles others responsible
for staff role (Lee and Trim, 2006). It is estimated
that, between 70 and 80% of the intelligence a company typically needs resides
with employees who collect it while dealing with the companys suppliers,
customers and other industry contacts. The challenge for companies is to create
a way of collecting and analyzing the useful information that resides with employees
(Tan and Ahmed, 1999). Collecting and transmitting environmental
information is a specific and important assignment of the selling function.
Salespeople may notice changes in customers needs, the test or launch
of a new product on the market or a price modification by competitors. They
might be able to predict their customers attitudes and behavior toward
a new product or provide good estimations of how customers perceive products
attributes (Bon and Merunka, 2006). Furthermore, in
a digitalized economy in which online selling is growing, the sales organization
must consider the new challenges of being a relevant information provider (to
customers) and a sound information collector (for the company) rather than just
an order taker (Neil and DeVincentis, 1999). Marketing
intelligence officers need to look more closely at what influences customer
demand. This means that adequate attention is paid to market dynamics and in
particular, how change originates. This means that various factors need to be
evaluated and monitored such as the role of government, changes in government
regulations that result in breakthroughs in technology and the emergence of
consumer pressure groups that are concerned with environmental issues for example.
As a result, marketing intelligence officers need to think of intelligence gathering
as an ongoing, multi-dimensional process that involves aspects of counterintelligence
(Trim and Lee, 2006). But contrast of sales forces vital
role in marketing intelligence system, practically, research suggest the poor
reliability of the sales forces in collecting and transmitting market information;
information gathered through salespersons is imprecise and may reach decision
makers only after considerable delay. Also, information transmitted can be biased
because salespeople receive incorrect and incomplete information from their
customers wish to transmit information that is favorable to them, do not adequately
estimate their customers expectations, or overestimate their sensitivity
to price. Because of their own personal interests, salespeople also may have
an incomplete or incorrect perception of the reality they observe. Finally,
some information may never be communicated to marketing and sales managers and
it appears that very few salespeople are truly committed to the diffusion of
environmental information with in their company. Scarcity in the communication
of information from foreign markets has also been suggested (Bon
and Merunka, 2006).
Marketing intelligence role in accomplished research: Rare experimental studies happen in marketing intelligence setting. Several cases of paper solitary find in scientific context as following:
||Bon and Merunka (2006) have expressed
impressible of marketing intelligence from personal factors (such as: organizational
commitment, desire for upward mobility) and managerial factors (such as:
control system, participation in decision making, feedback, recognition).
The results of this study, that base on statistic data has been collected
in 3 section-involved services, industrial and consumer goods indicate that
desire for upward mobility is the only individual determinant of behavior.
Other than participation in decision-making, all the managerial factors
play influential roles in structuring both motivation and behavioral effort
toward marketing intelligence by salespeople. Through, the important positive
impact of recognition, the results demonstrate that even a non-sales task
such as marketing intelligence activities may imply some involvement from
the Sales forces if the contributors are commended and thanked for their
participation. It must also underline the importance of feedback and behavior-based
control systems as means to influence sales representatives motivation
and effort. Salespeople need to know what happens to the information they
transmit and be coached and controlled by their management (not left alone)
when it comes to intelligence activities
||Lee and Trim (2006) explain why planners
and retail marketing strategists need to develop long-term relationships
capable of building business partnerships based on mutual trust. The results
of this study show that, a successful retailing strategy will be embedded
within a customer-driven general business strategy. Marketing managers should
plan to develop and sustain long-term trust-based working relationships
which take into account organizational and national values. Successful partnership
arrangements depend on mutuality and resilience, as well as trust. Marketing
intelligence is a vital ingredient in the formulation and implementation
of plans to achieve these goals. The organizational resilience value
system framework proposed here can be used by marketing planners to
link organization learning to relationship marketing and thereby establish
a customer relationship management policy that provides the organization
with a sustainable competitive advantage
||Trim and Lee (2008) explain how competitive
intelligence officers can participate more fully in strategy formulation
and implementation and how they can contribute to the strategic intelligence
process. The results reveal Competitive intelligence officers can contribute
more fully to the strategic intelligence process and help establish an intelligence
culture that incorporates counter-intelligence. By adopting a broader understanding
of what strategic marketing represents, marketing managers can devise new
approaches to managing customer relationships and can develop international/global
brand positioning strategies that when implemented counter the actions of
legitimate competitors and new entrants and disrupt the actions of counterfeiters
||Lackman et al. (2000) express
the role of market intelligence in directing both strategy and success in
the marketplace. In this order, added value of marketing intelligence and
its importance in strategic decision making have been hyphenised and assayed
between fifty industrial and services companies. Results revel significant
relationship between strategic planning and marketing intelligence. This
subject was confirmed by remarkable usage by these companies and their tactical
and strategic decisions impressible from marketing intelligence. These companies
know that their target market sustainable position relies on their quality
and up date information
||Fleisher (2008) seeks to show how
the increasingly popular use of data and information acquired from open
sources impacts competitive and marketing intelligence. Open sources are
useful in marketing analyses because they can be easily accessible, inexpensive,
quickly accessed and voluminous in availability. Marketing analysis increasingly
feeds on open source data in plans, strategies and tactics. In this study,
marketing intelligence concept has been considered as a relative variable
that its development depends on analyzing and intellectual using data and
information sources until organization achieves to suitable market advantage
||Nwokah and Ondukwu (2009) aimed to
assess the impact of competitive intelligence on the marketing effectiveness
of corporate organizations. 108 corporate organizations in Nigeria were
selected from the gazette of Nigeria stock exchange as sample of this study.
The results find strong association between competitive intelligence and
marketing effectiveness of corporate organizations in the Nigerian context.
These results propose that organizations should create a competitive intelligence
unit to regularly monitor rivals activities and to evaluate organizational
groups activities in line with that of rivals. Moreover, management must
consistently motivate its intelligence teams so that it will analyze the
customers needs, seel to satisfy them and try to adapt the products
to these needs, react to competitors actions and responses.
Conceptual model and research hypotheses: In order to explain and specify
the influence factors of Sales force marketing intelligence behavior, based
on Bon and Merunka model, these factors are divided personal and managerial
dimensions. In this model, motivation is intermediate effective factor which
correlates managerial factors (except behavioral control system factor) to behavioral
effort toward marketing intelligence. In this model as seen in Fig.
1, four factors such as behavioral control system, participation in decision-making,
feedback and recognition for managerial dimension and two factors such as desire
for upward mobility and organizational commitment for personal dimension have
|| Research conceptual model
||Behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence (BE):
Intelligence marketing is not an easy duty for Sales force. He or she must
build strong relationships with customers to get proper and relevant information
from them, gather information or evidence from the field and organize his
or her negotiations with customers to obtain information without disturbing
the selling process. Transmitting nonstandard zed, diverse information is
time consuming and may be perceived as peripheral to the basic selling and
reporting goals that, above all, must be achieved. Thus, intelligence activities
require personal involvement and rely on the willingness of the salesperson
to fulfill the mission
||Motivation (Mot): The concept of motivation is useful
for understanding why salespeople might exert effort. Extrinsic motivation
is a key influential variable of sales representatives effort and
work performance. Basically, expectancy theory states that a salesperson
will exert a certain amount of effort toward a particular task if he or
she estimates that the effort will lead to a specific performance (expectancy)
which will imply a real reward (instrumentality) that he or she really desires
(valence for reward) (Robbins, 2003). Then, Sales
force are motivated for seeking information in his or her field: (1) if
he or she feels that will collect suitable information from observation
and or negotiation with customers (expectancy) and thereupon (2) will receive
reward related on information that he or she has transferred and (3) that
reward is favorite for him/herself
Overall, motivation relies on factors that can be manipulating by management. Thus, if motivation is one key variable for explaining behavioral effort, it is proposed as a intermediate variable. Then, first hypothesis expresses as following:
||H1: The greater salespeople's motivation, the greater
their behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence activities will be
||Organizational Commitment (Oc): Organizational commitment
is introduced as Sales force desire for completion the marketing intelligence
mission in order to aim organization benefits when marketing intelligence
activates was assigned as a peripheral duty for Sales force. Organizational
commitment can be defined as a positive individual attitude toward an organization.
It indicates personal identification with the company's values, personal
involvement with its objectives and great loyalty toward it. The concept
of organizational commitment is also useful to understand why people continue
ongoing behaviors even if the conditions of extrinsic motivation are not
met. Thus, it hypothesizes a direct impact of organizational commitment
on Sales forces behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence activities.
||H2: The greater salespeople's organizational commitment,
the greater their behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence activities
||Desire for Upward Mobility (UM): Upward mobility is
an organizational communication literature concept that can be defined as
the desire to access higher positions within an organization. Desire for
upward mobility affects the length and type of messages sent by subordinates
to superiors and is thought to influence the quality of sales reports. Thus,
third hypothesis expresses as following:
||H3: The greater salespeople's desire for upward mobility,
the greater their behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence activities
||Behavior Control System of sales force (Bcs): The sales
force control system is an important concept for understanding how their
effort and performance may be driven. Defined as a set of rules and procedures
designed to monitor, direct, evaluate and compensate employees. This system
relies on greater management control and involvement in sales peoples
activities, such that salespeople are told how to execute their tasks. The
performance evaluation criteria in turn are more subjective and the fixed
portion of their compensation package (i.e., salary) is more important than
the variable part (Hatch, 2007). Thus, the pressure
due to extrinsic motivation has been removed and thereby develops salespeoples
identification with their company. It, therefore proposes that a behavior-based
control system will directly influence salespeople's behavioral effort.
We survey this concept by measuring managerial communications with sales
force in order to be sure from their performance
||H4: The stronger the behavior-based control system
for salespeople, the greater their behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence
activities will be
||Participation in Decision-making (PiDM): Participation
in decision making may help salespersons better understand managers
preoccupations and informational needs. Participation in decision-making
causes to increase employees motivation (Fard and Naghavi, 2003, p.1). Therefore,
it is predicted that Participation in decision-making will influenced sale
force motivation toward marketing intelligence by reward attraction. Thus,
fifth hypothesis forms as following:
||H5: The greater salespeople's participation in decision-making,
the greater their motivation toward marketing intelligence activities will
||Feedback: For salespeople to collect and transmit information
from the field, they need to know that their effort is not meaningless.
They require feedback which is defined as return signals that the information
has reached its addressee and is useful or has been used. In contrast, sale
forces do not have any motivation for performing marketing intelligence
activates. Then sixth hypothesis expresses the effect of feedback as following:
||H6: The greater the managerial feedback, the greater
sales-Peoples motivation toward marketing intelligence activities
||Managerial Recognition (Rec): Recognition can be defined
as the set of existing rules and policies for commending or thanking salespeople
for their contribution to intelligence activities. Managerial recognition
will have a positive impact on motivation. Hence:
||H7: The greater the managerial recognition, the greater
sales-peoples motivation toward marketing intelligence activities
This is a descriptive survey which defying relationship between known elements
contribute to marketing intelligence activities of salesforce. For assessing
this relationship, the questions of Bon and Merunkas questionnaire has
been adopted and a cessionaire was designed with items involve five-item Likert-type
scale items. Validity was confirmed by experts and Bartlett Test. The results
in Table 1 demonstrate that, the measures used in the current
study all exceed the commonly accepted standard of coefficient alpha. 0.7 Note
that this will only support our arguments for measure reliability.
|| Reliability of study measure (coefficient alpha)
Statistical population, sample size, sampling method: Data was collected from sales force of chain stores corporate of Refah and Shahrvand in tehran city. Sample size consist of 214 salespeople which were selected random sampling method from all stores (which sale more than one type of product). Based on collected data from 30 cessionaire distributed, population variance was estimated and then sample size was calculated by sampling formula.
RESULT AND ANALYSIS
From 214 send questionnaires, we received back 193 (90%) usable responses. Then, its our database for resulting in this research. First we present descriptive and inferential statistics. We will also present test of hypothesis and path analysis.
Descriptive statistics: Mean age of respondents was 27 years and mean years working were 6. Education of respondents was 72.2% diploma and under, 26.7% high deploma and BSc, 1.1% higher.
Inferential statistics: The research hypothesis and relationship between
Independent and dependent variable was tested using Chi-square test, using SPSS.
Error and confidence interval was respectively 5 and 95% which has demonstrated
in Table 2:
As seem in Table 2, results of Chi-square test for most hypotheses was not in significant level. Based on theoretical framework, these results are wonderful. After obtaining these results, we searched in literature and found some researches that organizational commitment corresponds with motivation, participation in decision-making, feedback and managerial recognition in those researches. Thus, we take organizational commitment as intermediate variable and revise four hypothesizes and so reexamine these hypothesizes.
|| The results of Chi-square test
|| According to Curtis et al. (2009),
Matin et al. (2010), Roe
(2010), Tella et al. (2007) and Nehmeh
(2009) limited differences do exit for certain motivational factors
and organizational commitment factors and there is a significant relationship
between two variables. As Kren (1996) told, motivation
was not directly related to performance. Instead, motivation affected an
intervening variable, organizational commitment to performance goals and
it was commitment to performance goals that acted to mobilize effort. Thus,
if organizational commitment is one key variable for explaining behavioral
effort, it is proposed as an intermediate variable. Then, we revised first
hypothesis as following:
||H`1: The greater salespeople's motivation, the greater
salespeoples organizational commitment toward marketing intelligence
activities will be
||If we replace concept Behavior control system
with its measure managerial communication, According to the
marketing and behavioral literature, we understood that managerial communication
have directly relation with organizational commitment. As Zain
et al. (2009) mentioned that communication is important determinants
in motivating the employees to be committed to their organization. Then,
it was revised fourth hypothesis as following:
||H`4: The stronger the Managerial Communication (Mc) with salespeople,
the greater their organizational commitment toward marketing intelligence
activities will be
||Chiang and et al. (2011) imply
when employees have a high degree of perceived organizational support, they
will feel important to an organization and be willing to participate in
decision-making in order to reciprocate an organization. Thus, these employees
are more willing to remain with an organization. Thus also, we revised fifth
hypothesis as following:
||H`5: The greater salespeople's PIDM, the greater their
organizational commitment toward marketing intelligence activities will
||H`6: The greater the managerial feedback, the greater
sales-Peoples organizational commitment toward marketing intelligence
activities will be
||Zain et al. (2009) and Nehmeh
(2009) reveal the influence of rewards and recognition on organizational
commitment. They discuss that recognition is important determinant in motivating
the employees to be committed to their organization. Thus, we revised seventh
hypothesis as following:
||H`7: The greater the managerial recognition, the greater
sales-peoples organizational commitment toward marketing intelligence
activities will be
In pursuit, we examined revised hypothesizes as seem in Table 3:
After revised five hypothesizes and observed results of Chi-square test, as seem in Table 3, results of Chi-square test for all revised hypotheses are in significant level. Thus the null hypothesis was rejected and alternative hypothesis were accepted, significant at 5% level.
Final model and path analysis diagram: According to results, the conceptual
model was revised and final model was presented as Fig. 2.
To observe the impacts of differences between research model variables on behavioral
effort toward marketing intelligence, a path analysis diagram was drawn. Then
partial standardized regression coefficient (β) was used as path ratio
to achieve the direct and indirect impacts of each independent variable on depended
variables. Since, these ratios are standardized in path analysis diagram, one
can compare the impacts of different variables and then determine the most effective
one (Kalantari, 2010).
|| The results of Chi-square test for revised hypothesizes
|| Path analysis diagram of final model
On this basis, the highest impact in expressing the behavioral effort toward
marketing intelligence is organizational commitment which is 0.205. It follows
by managerial communication is the second impacting factor with 0.063 value
in the emergence of Behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence. It also
follows by motivation toward marketing intelligence with total 0.057 value,
Feedback with total 0.041 value, Recognition with -.004 value, Participation
in decision making with -0.010 and finally Desire for upward mobility with -0.124
imply behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence.
This research is an attempt to propose a general explanation of salespeoples behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence activities. This research was done with the purpose of surveying the impact of individual and managerial factors on sales forces contribution to marketing intelligence activities.
First, according to proposed model of Bon and Merunka (2006),
we considered motivation as an intermediate variable and hypothesized its relationship
with participation in decision-making, feedback and managerial recognition.
Next to these, it was assayed the relationship of desire for upward mobility,
organizational commitment, behavior control system and motivation with behavioral
effort toward marketing intelligence. The results of these tests were wonderful
because, except of the relationship between desire for upward mobility and organizational
commitment with behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence, other relationships
were rejected by 95% accuracy.
Second, after gaining these results, based on marketing and behavioral literature, we revised five hypothesizes which included organizational commitment as intermediate factor and changed the concept Behavior control system with its measure managerial communication. In pursuit, we examined the relationship of motivation, managerial communication and participation in decision-making, feedback and managerial recognition with organizational commitment. All revised hypotheses were accepted by 95% accuracy. So, based on accepted hypotheses, path analysis was presented. Then, result is as following:
||Behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence is largely
a function of organizational commitment and desire for upward mobility.
Indirectly, other variables such as motivation, managerial communication
and participation in decision-making, feedback and managerial recognition
also contribute to behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence
||Contrast Bon and Merunkas study that rejected the relationship
between organizational commitment and behavioral effort toward marketing
intelligence activities; we found that organizational commitment is amongst
factors that motivating behavioral effort of sales force toward marketing
intelligence activities and managerial communication and motivation toward
marketing intelligence have more effectiveness to organizational commitment
||Although, Bon and Merunkas research imply significant
direct relationship between motivation and behavioral effort of sales force
toward marketing intelligence activities but we do not reach this direct
||Our statistical test rejected direct relationship between
behavioral control system and behavioral effort of sales force toward marketing
intelligence activities but it confirmed its indirect effect on marketing
intelligence activities in framework of its measure managerial communication
and intermediate factor of organizational commitment
According to revised model, we must to discuss about results from two viewpoints;
managerial factors and individual factors. In this regard, managerial communication,
participation in decision-making, feedback and managerial recognition as managerial
factors influence indirectly behavioral efforts toward marketing intelligence
activities. These factors cause to increase commitment of sales force toward
organization or corporation destiny. In this study, although, managerial factors
dont have direct relationship with behavioral efforts toward marketing
intelligence activities but they influence individual factor such as organizational
commitment that it have the most important in marketing intelligence. Anyway,
in order to explain behavioral effort toward marketing intelligence activities,
researchers should consider two viewpoints until acquaint sales force from their
strategic role of marketing intelligence and motivate them for participating
in marketing intelligence activities. As Trim and Lee (2006)
discussed, the type of work undertaken by marketing intelligence officers is
growing in importance and is likely to become more strategically oriented in
the years ahead. It is essential, therefore, that marketing intelligence officers
refocus part of their efforts on security work and develop their skill and knowledge
base so that they are better able to assist marketing strategists.
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