Communication between marketing

There are many barriers to achieving integration and communication between marketing and R&D (Griffin, A. Et al, 1996). As a result "empirical research indicates that disharmony between marketing and R&D is the rule rather than the exception" (Moenaert et al, p. 96). From a survey of 274 R&D and 264 marketing managers Song, X. Michael (1991) found the correlation between the stated ideal level and the achieved level was only half i.e. the achieved integration was only about half of the desired level.


Inherent personality differences have been found between marketing and R&D personnel in American corporations (table 2) (Saxberg, B. 1968). Some differences are stereotypes, many may have changed since 1968, and many may be unique to America's culture, but these differences do caution that there may be some natural interpersonal distance between marketing and R&D (Connie A Carroad et al, 1982). Interestingly, recent research has shed new light on these findings. Marketing and R&D managers at 167 high technology firms were similar on many traits - differences existed mainly in the time orientation (Griffin, A. Et al, 1996). Furthermore, this difference was observed whether or not marketing and R&D were well-integrated in the firm. However, "cultural" barriers were two of the four most cited barriers. This suggests that the true barrier may be a perceptual barrier of stereotypes rather than of actual personality differences. When they exist, these stereotypes can form formidable barriers between the groups. Even if stereotypes are not based in fact, if one or the other group believes in them, this belief alone can become a barrier to mutual understanding.

Because personality or stereotypes barriers may be the most difficult of all communication barriers to reduce or eliminate (Block. J. 1977), the existence of these barriers suggests researchers seek mechanism to enhance understanding and to build trust between functions.

Cultural Thought-Worlds

Marketing and R&D personnel offer differ in training and background. Marketing professionals are drawn primarily from business schools, often with a prior liberal arts background. R&D professional are hired primarily from engineering and science schools. Business school training focuses on general problem solving, combining data and intuition to make decision that leads to profitable corporate performance. Science and engineering school training focuses on the scientific method of hypothesis generation and testing and solving technical problems. These "world views" and organizational routines are reinforced in the cultures of the firm's functional departments [Dougherty, Deborah (1990), Griffin, A. Et al, 1996, Douglas, M. (1987)]

First publicized in 1967 (Jay W. Lorsch et al, 1967), the cultural differences between marketing and R&D of table 3 well-documented [Griffin, A. Et al, 1996, Orville C. Walker et al, 1987]. Marketing thought-worlds prefer the short time horizon of incremental projects. They focus on the market, accept a high degree of ambiguity and bureaucracy, and feel loyalty to firm. By contrast, R&D thought-worlds prefer the long time horizon of advanced projects. They focus on scientific development with a loyalty to their scientific profession and have low tolerance on ambiguity and bureaucracy. Naturally these generalities do not apply to every marketing and R&D department, but rather indicate identifiable trends.

These differences in thought-world suggest that marketing and R&D run the danger of developing self-contained societies in which they reside. Even though both functions work for the same corporation with the same overall corporate goals, the lens through which each function interprets those goals differs (Griffin, A. Et al, 1996). More importantly, separate thought-world mean that marketing and R&D may have difficulty understanding one another's goals, solution and tradeoffs. To work together they must understand and appreciate the other's thought-world.


As separate thought-worlds develop, language barriers also raise. Marketing has and uses its own sets of technical terms and R&D uses different technical terms. Marketing professionals speak in terms of product benefits and perceptual positions. R&D professional speak the quantitative language of specifications and performance. When miscomprehension occurs, customer needs and engineering solutions disconnect even though each group thinks they are talking about exactly the same thing. Subtle differences in language often imply vastly different solutions and can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful project (John R. Hauser 1993)

Even the level of detail used by each group varies. For example, marketing may find that consumers want a liquid dishwashing powder detergent to "clean my dishes better" this statement may be adequate for devising advertising strategy, but to design the "best" solution, R&D needs to know what kind of dishes, what dirt has to be removed, and in what type of water. Different solutions can be developed if the consumer judges "clean" by spots on glasses, a shine on the dishes, the amount of bubbles during the washing process, or, as was the case in one application we observed, by the size and shape of the bubbles. If each group does not understand customer needs at the level of detail that they need to do their job, they become frustrated with the communication process (Griffin, A. Et al, 1996).

Organizational responsibilities

Organizational barriers arise due to different task priorities and responsibilities [Griffin, A. Et al, (1996), Souder, William E. (1975)], functional success measures unsupportive of integration (market share vs. market patents)], lack of top management support rewarding integration (Duncan I,1994b), and the perceived illegitimacy of product development. While top management clearly controls these factors, organisational change to eliminate these differences can create barriers in and of itself. Middle managers who have risen to where they are under the previous criteria now must learn to play by different rules to continue to rise in the organisation. Because they have become proficient and successful under the old system, many are reluctant to change to new operating rules or philosophies. The confusion and angst can cause resistance to any "outsiders" and thus reduce integration among marketing and R&D.

Physical barriers

Physical barriers frequently isolate marketing from R&D in U.S. firms. It is not uncommon for R&D facilities to be located on "campuses" in cities distant from the marketing offices. At a major computer company the marketing offices are located in a northern state while R&D effort is headquarter in a southern state. The probability that two people communicate at least once per week drops off rapidly with the physical distance between their offices, with the probability of communication less than 10% at office separation of 10 metres (Griffin, A. Et al, 1996). When marketing and R&D are in separate cities, there is much less interpersonal activity even with new communication technology.

Separation decreases chance meetings, serendipitous information transfer or problem clarification in the halls or around the coffee machine. Long distance between groups makes face to face communication inconvenient, leading to decision-making delays. Physically isolating groups exacerbates other communication barriers. Isolation solidifies separate thought-worlds, encourages shortcut jargon-filled language development, and heightens perceptions of personality differences (Allen. Thomas J. 1970).

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