This chapter presents a detailed discussion of the study findings and hypotheses testing in the context of theories and past studies and provides the implications for knowledge, managers, and policy-makers, as well as limitations and directions for further study. Thus, the chapter is divided into several sections. The first section discusses research objectives and associated hypotheses. The second section discusses inter-relationships of entrepreneurial marketing (EM) dimensions. The third section presents theoretical and practical implications. The fourth section discusses the study limitations. The next sections propose the directions for future research. Finally, the conclusions regarding the research are provided at the end of this chapter.
Discussion of the Research Objectives and Hypotheses
The findings of the study indicate that four objectives were achieved, and the hypotheses testing demonstrates that Hypotheses 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 were supported by the results, but Hypothesis 2 was not supported because of the absence of the statistically significant relationship between constructs. The results confirm that proactiveness and resource leveraging as EM dimensions influence sustainability in SMEs, as it is in line with the studies by Gawel (2012), Rezvani and Khazaei (2013), and Wallnofer and Hacklin (2013). However, innovativeness is not positively and significantly related to sustainability because SMEs in Saudi Arabia lacks the implemented innovative practices.
Moreover, there is strict evidence that value creation and customer intensity as the dimensions of building the competitive advantage in the firm positively affect the increase in the companies’ proactiveness, innovativeness, and resource leveraging. These results are consistent with findings and conclusions made by Beverland et al. (2007), Blocker et al. (2010), Tanev et al. (2011), Hacioglu et al. (2012), Vrontis et al. (2012), and Fiore et al. (2013). Hypotheses are based on theoretical assumptions and presented in the context of Institutional Theory and Contingency Theory. Therefore, it is assumed that the managers’ choices of practices and answers to the questionnaire items are influenced by the institutional environment (Manolova et al. 2008) and the vision of available contingencies to choose the most appropriate strategy for implementing sustainability in the organisation (Ibeh 2003).
Objective 1: Examining the predictive effect of proactiveness, innovativeness and resource leveraging on SMEs’ business sustainability.
Proactiveness and Sustainability
According to Morris et al. (2002, p. 6), proactiveness is related to the sustainable development of the company as the leaders’ approach to manipulating and influencing the environment. The proactive actions of leaders are also viewed by Mitra et al. (2008, p. 103) as the approaches to creating sustainability. In this context, by managing environmental changes with the help of proactive steps, leaders are able to achieve balance and sustainability (Mitra et al. 2008). The Institutional Theory is used by the researchers to explain how proactiveness can be helpful on the path to sustainability in the company (Mitra et al. 2008). While focusing on the studied relationship between proactiveness, innovativeness, resource leveraging, and business sustainability, it is possible to state that proactiveness has the highest positive effect on sustainability in comparison to other EM factors (path coefficient is 0.369, > 0.20), and the statistical significance of the relationship is also high. These results are consistent with the ideas by Rezvani and Khazaei (2013, p. 208), who noted that proactiveness as the process of seeking opportunities for companies is associated with influencing the environmental and organisational changes. In other words, proactiveness is chosen by leaders in those situations when they choose the direction to sustainability. The reason is that the orientation to new opportunities and approaches of companies leads to positive changes associated with the sustainable development of the company in terms of its environmental, social, and economic progress (Mitra et al. 2008, p. 103; Rezvani & Khazaei 2013, p. 208).
From this point, the findings are directly correlated with the ideas by Gawel (2012, p. 10), who stated that those companies that have the lowest proactiveness as the orientation to searching for new opportunities also have the lowest level of sustainability because of focusing on past trends. On the contrary, the highest level of proactiveness directly leads to the active use of opportunities associated with or affecting sustainable development (Gawel 2012, p. 10). Therefore, the findings support the researchers’ opinions and earlier conclusions that the higher proactiveness in the form of seeking new opportunities for marketing and leading the change in the company can result in higher sustainability in the Saudi Arabian firms.
Innovativeness and Sustainability
The researchers are inclined to state that the innovativeness of the firm based on the implemented innovations is an important factor to achieve sustainability for small businesses. According to Bresciani et al. (2011, p. 294), the promoted innovation is a guarantee of the further sustainable development of small family businesses. In their turn, Vrontis et al. (2012, p. 431) focused on innovation as directly associated with the competitive advantage that is based on the ideas of sustainable development. Vrontis et al. (2012) found the relationship between innovativeness and sustainability while discussing how firms can use creativity and innovations for strategic redevelopment according to the principle of balance and sustainability. However, the findings of this study indicate that in the Saudi Arabian context, there is no direct positive relationship between innovativeness and sustainability. Thus, the results demonstrated that there is no a statistically significant relationship between these two constructs, and while focusing on the relationship, it is important to note that it tends to be negative. As a result, Hypothesis 2 is not supported. The absence of the relationship between innovativeness and sustainability can be discussed as a non-regular feature because such researchers as Gawel (2012) and Hills and Hultman (2011) proved the direct relationship between these factors that influence the development of the business. Thus, according to Gawel (2012, p. 11), innovativeness is based on improving products and services to enhance operations and achieve sustainability, while reducing all types of costs. The reason is that sustainable development is based on changes in strategies and innovations. This idea is also supported by Dobni (2010, p. 56). Hills and Hultman (2011, p. 4) also stated that innovativeness in forms is important to build a sustainable strategy and achieve the competitive advantage and flexibility.
However, the absence of the obvious positive relationship between these two constructs in the Saudi Arabian context can be viewed as predictable because SMEs in Saudi Arabia are only on their path to integrating the idea of innovativeness in business development to achieve sustainability. As a result, managers cannot determine what practices related to innovation can be used in order to achieve sustainability that is also a new concept for the majority of SMEs in the country (Sadi & Iftikhar 2011, p. 226; Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency 2010, p. 3). Shalaby (2010, p. 11) claimed that in Saudi Arabia, there is a lack of innovative mechanisms for the work of SMEs to compete effectively in the industry. Bahaddad et al. (2013, p. 70) and Berghman et al. (2013) also noted that the use of innovative techniques is problematic in the context of Saudi Arabia, and it is one of the challenges for SMEs. From this point, there are numerous barriers for SMEs to integrate innovativeness in Saudi Arabian businesses, and the paradox is in the fact that the problem is also in the active growth of SMEs because the frequent appearance of many SMEs in the country tends to “kill innovation” (Alsaleh 2012, p. 5). Therefore, being unable to use the benefits of innovativeness in SMEs, managers cannot see the direct relationship between innovativeness and sustainability (Majid & Koe 2012, p. 295; Ahmad 2012, p. 217). From this perspective, the findings of this study do not support the hypothesis about the positive relationship between innovativeness and sustainability typical of business contexts that are other than Saudi Arabian SMEs. However, the results support the statements argued in the previous studies that SMEs in the country lack the focus on innovativeness that prevents them from effective and sustainable development (Achoui 2009, p. 38).
Resource Leveraging and Sustainability
Resource leveraging as the creative and most effective use of resources in the company leads to positive changes in operations, and as a result, this strategy leads to sustainability. This idea was mentioned by Wallnofer and Hacklin (2013, p. 760) and Webb et al. (2011, p. 544). If an organization can effectively leverage the resources, it can mobilise its skills and funds in order to create a sustainable or perfectly balanced environment (Rezvani & Khazaei 2013, p. 212). The findings of this study demonstrate that there is the direct positive relationship between resource leveraging and sustainability. From this point, Hypothesis 3 is supported by the study results. The dependence of the business sustainability on the aspect of resource leveraging means that the firms’ success in creative resource management leads to the increased chances of improving sustainability. These findings are in line with the ideas by Gawel (2012, p. 10) who states that such easy steps in resource management as the economical use of energy and the efficient use of materials can lead not only to balancing the economic performance but also to developing the other aspects of sustainability. According to Alsaleh (2012, p. 4), SMEs in Saudi Arabia need to develop their strategic resources in order to gain a competitive advantage, improve performance, and achieve the strategic growth, as well as sustainability. From this point, the findings support the researchers’ previous conclusions in the field, and they allow speaking about the significant role of resource leveraging in affecting the sustainability in SMEs, and the success depends on the use of most creative approaches to managing both material and human resources to achieve the higher results (Rezvani & Khazaei 2013, p. 212; Webb et al. 2011, p. 544).
Objective 2: Examining the predictive effect of value creation and customer intensity on SMEs’ proactiveness.
Value Creation and Proactiveness
The relationship between value creation and proactiveness as the firm’s feature was discussed by many researchers. However, different directions of this relationship were noted. Thus, Becherer et al. (2008, p. 45) stated that proactiveness is a characteristic of firms that try to develop new approaches to increase value and competitiveness. Morris et al. (2002, p. 8) focused on value creation as a result of the leaders’ proactive and creative actions to find the new sources of customer value. Fiore et al. (2013, p. 66-67) also noted that the dependence of the value creation on the proactive utilisation of different resources to find new opportunities for the firm, and then, on the proactive use of the value to achieve the high position in the market. From this point, the researchers were inclined to discuss proactiveness as the source of the value creation for companies rather than the value creation as the source of proactiveness. However, the findings indicate that such direction of the relationship between these two constructs exists, and it is rather significant. As a result, Hypothesis 4 is supported. These findings are in line with the results and discussions presented in studies by Beverland et al. (2007) and Blocker et al. (2010). According to Beverland et al. (2007, p. 49), the creation of the customer value leads to developing the managers’ proactive understanding of their resources and strategies. In their turn, Blocker et al. (2010, p. 217) noted the process of value creation is proactive in its nature. From this point, the findings support the assumption that there is the complex interrelationship between the dimensions of EM because the study results support the idea that the process of value creation affects proactiveness in SMEs in addition to the reverse relationship, when proactiveness leads to the value creation.
Customer Intensity and Proactiveness
The phenomenon of the customer intensity is discussed by Morris et al. (2002, p. 7) and Blocker et al. (2010) as the process of attracting and retaining customers with the help of different strategies, approaches, and techniques. The use of these strategies is oriented to attracting and satisfying more customers. As a result, the success of the firm in this practice is based on its proactive approach. Blocker et al. (2010, p. 217) called this phenomenon the “proactive customer orientation.” Beverland et al. (2007, p. 55) also supported this vision, and they noted that proactiveness is a potential for developing effective relationships with customers to increase customer intensity. The findings of this study indicate that there is a statistically significant relationship between customer intensity and proactiveness, and the higher level of customer intensity leads to a higher level of proactiveness. The findings can be discussed as supported with references to the results of the studies by Hacioglu et al. (2012, p. 872), who found that the firm’s performance depends on addressing the customers’ needs, and this approach contributes to increasing the proactiveness of the firm. The findings are also consistent with the assumptions made by Challagalla et al. (2009, p. 77), who stated that the focus on customers leads to increasing customer-level outcomes, and the overall proactive potential of the firm can also grow. However, the previous researches present only assumptions regarding the presence of the relationship, and this study covers the gap in the field and provides the evidence to state the actual relationship between customer intensity and proactiveness for the very first time. Therefore, the study results demonstrate that there is a strict relationship between customer intensity and proactiveness, and it is possible to speak about the interrelationship of these dimensions because the increase of any factor leads to positive changes in another one.
Objective 3: Examining the predictive effect of value creation and customer intensity on SMEs’ innovativeness.
Value Creation and Innovativeness
Following the findings by Tanev et al. (2011, p. 132), it is possible to state that modern companies create value while cooperating, and the focus on using value creation practices directly leads to increasing the innovativeness of the firm because of a range of implemented new approaches and the development of the concept of innovation. The study results support the idea that there is a positive relationship between the value creation and innovativeness. Bowonder et al. (2010, p. 22) found that the value creation based on the development of new products can directly lead to the progress of innovation in the company. In their turn, a similar idea was supported by Vrontis et al. (2012, p. 426), who developed the concept of the “value-based innovativeness”, accentuating the direct relationship between the idea of value creation and innovativeness. The findings of the study support the idea that those SMEs that focus on value creation also build strategies for increasing innovativeness for better competition in the market (Vrontis et al. 2012, p. 426). The findings are also supported with references to the discussion of value creation by Dobni (2010). The researcher has found the relationship between the creation of the differentiable value and the further development of the culture based on the principle of innovation in the company (Dobni 2010, p. 56). In this context, the findings are linked to the previous studies that examined the presence of a relationship between value creation and innovativeness.
Customer Intensity and Innovativeness
The findings indicate that in the Saudi Arabian context, the relationship between customer intensity and innovativeness is even more obvious and statistically significant than the relationship between value creation and innovativeness. The findings can be explained with references to the studies by Sawhney et al. (2005), Romero and Molina (2009), and Tanev et al. (2011). The study results are in line with the findings by Sawhney et al. (2005, p. 11), who found that the customer’s ideas and knowledge can influence product innovation in the company, especially in the online sphere. Romero and Molina (2009, p. 413) developed the idea and stated that the customers can influence the development of the firms’ new experiences and strategies with the focus on the idea of value creation. From this point, all three dimensions of entrepreneurial marketing seem to be interrelated. Tanev et al. (2011, p. 132) also mentioned in their work that active customers can contribute to the development of new products to increase the innovativeness of the firm.
The results also supported the findings presented by Hacioglu et al. (2012, p. 876), who stated that in Turkish SMEs, the customer intensity is directly related to increasing the innovativeness in the company in terms of affecting the innovative performance. Fiore et al. (2013, p. 79) went further, and the researcher accentuated the idea of the “consumer-centric innovation”. Therefore, the current discussion of the relationship between customer intensity and innovativeness is in line with the previous studies in the field. As a result, it is possible to conclude that while orienting to customers, their knowledge, and ideas, SMEs are inclined to implement more innovative approaches in order to compete in the market successfully.
Objective 4: Examining the predictive effect of value creation and customer intensity on SMEs’ resource leveraging.
Value Creation and Resource Leveraging
According to Tanev et al. (2011, p. 150), value creation is closely linked with the innovation processes in the company, and the managers’ approaches to increasing the value lead to improving resource management. The researchers argued that the value co-creation could lead to an even more intensive process of resource leveraging (Tanev et al. 2011, p. 150). These conclusions explain the observed statistically significant relationship between value creation and resource leveraging in Saudi Arabian SMEs. The findings are in line with the claims made by Kurgun et al. (2011, p. 352) in their research. The investigators found that the process of increasing the customer value is directly associated with changes in managing resources, and the more creative use of available tools and resources leads is associated with the focus on the highest value. However, in this case, the effective use of resources is obviously regarded as a cause for value creation. In addition, Sull and Escobari (2004, p. 18) also discussed resource leveraging as one of the ways to create value. Still, the current findings indicate that there is also the reverse relationship to support the interdependence of these two constructs, and this direction of the relationship was not studied previously in detail. Nevertheless, it is important to note that Wallnofer and Hacklin (2012, p. 757) and Kraus and Britzelmaier (2012, p. 20) were among those researchers who viewed the process of the value creation associated with the customer value and the value in the market as leading to the enhancement of approaches to developing resources of the competitive advantage and their management. From this point, the current findings support the hypothesis that the focus on the value creation in the Saudi Arabian SMEs can cause the further improvement of resource leveraging.
Customer Intensity and Resource Leveraging
The results indicate that the most statistically significant relationship associated with the impact on resource management is observed between customer intensity and resource leveraging. It is a problematic task to find the support for such dependence in the previous literature on the topic because the researchers discussed the relationship between these constructs mainly in terms of the customers’ impact on managing resources while explaining the creation of the value in the firm. However, there are notes that customer intensity as the received information on customers’ needs, preferences, and interests can influence the managers’ approaches to the use of resources in order to address the customers’ expectations directly (Setia et al. 2013, p. 582; Sull & Escobari 2004, p. 18). The results of this study can be supported with references to the claims made by Setia et al. (2013, p. 582). The researchers found that firms were inclined to use the most effective approaches, strategies, technologies, and resources while aiming to attract customers or address their complaints. From this point, customer intensity has an effect on resource leveraging. Thus, the findings support the ideas mentioned by the other researchers in the field indirectly, while discussing the notion of value creation.
Inter-relationships of Entrepreneurial Marketing Dimensions
One of the main contributions of this study is the emphasis on the inter-relationships of entrepreneurial marketing dimensions that, in their turn, influence the SMEs’ potential for the development of sustainability. The study of inter-relationships of entrepreneurial marketing dimensions allows determining in what way these factors can influence each other, and what combinations of entrepreneurial marketing dimensions are the most promising ones to expect the further sustainable development of the SME. The research indicates that customer intensity has a large effect on innovativeness, proactiveness, and resource leveraging (ƒ2 = 0.464, 0.475, and 0.549 accordingly), but the effect of value creation on innovativeness, proactiveness, and resource leveraging is medium (ƒ2 = 0.270, 0.325, and 0.321 accordingly). Moreover, comparing the effects of innovativeness, proactiveness, and resource leveraging on business sustainability, it is possible to state that the larger effect is observed for the significant relationship between proactiveness and sustainability.
These findings are important for managers in Saudi Arabian SMEs in order to focus on the customer intensity as an approach to improve the other entrepreneurial marketing dimensions, and especially, proactiveness to achieve business sustainability in the shortest period of time. From this point, focusing on entrepreneurial marketing dimensions inter-relationships, it is possible to predict what factors will have the most advantageous effect on the sustainable development of the firm (Bettiol et al. 2012, p. 225). The findings demonstrate that customer intensity can have the more significant effect than value creation to achieve the higher strategic results, and they allow managers in Saudi Arabia to conclude what dimensions of the entrepreneurial marketing and in which combinations can contribute significantly to the sustainable progress of SMEs. As a result, it is possible to state that the entrepreneurial marketing dimensions are interrelated, and they have different effects on each other, and the managers can improve their understanding of these aspects with references to the current study to implement the most effective entrepreneurial marketing dimensions to achieve sustainability.
The findings of this study have the theoretical and practical implications. Thus, the examination of the effect of entrepreneurial marketing on business sustainability in SMEs contributes to the theoretical knowledge in the field. Moreover, the findings are theoretically significant in terms of providing the evidence to speak about the relationship between value creation and resource leveraging and the relationship between customer intensity and proactiveness. The practical implications include the contribution for managers as they can use the results of the study in order to improve their approaches to creating value, supporting the customer intensity, guaranteeing proactiveness and resource leveraging to achieve suitability. The practical implications also include the necessity for managers to understand the complicated relationship between innovativeness and sustainability in the Saudi Arabian context. The study also contributes to developing certain policies in the business environment of the state to guarantee sustainability. Therefore, the research also has implications for policy-makers.
Implications for Knowledge
While discussing the theoretical contribution of the study, it is important to note that it focuses on determining and explaining the relationship that exists between entrepreneurial marketing and business sustainability of SMEs. In spite of the fact that there were many studies in the field to determine the relationship between separate dimensions of entrepreneurial marketing and the companies’ sustainable development or advantage, this study contributes to the existing knowledge while discussing how entrepreneurial marketing dimensions can influence each other and then, the business sustainability of SMEs (Gawel 2012; Hacioglu et al. 2012; Wallnofer & Hacklin 2013). In this context, it is the first research to explain not only the role of entrepreneurial marketing in achieving sustainability but also the inter-relationships between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions as influential factors for the businesses’ sustainable development. From this point, the discussion of the relationship between value creation and resource leveraging and the relationship between customer intensity and proactiveness are tested and discussed in this study for the very first time.
From a theoretical perspective, the study also adds to the knowledge regarding the specific role of different entrepreneurial marketing dimensions in affecting SMEs’ business sustainability. The reason is that the researcher was focused on discussing the relationship between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions and sustainability, using specific paths and directions. As a result, it is possible to conclude now that the value creation has a similar important effect on proactiveness as proactive actions have on the value creation; the value creation has as significant impact on innovativeness as innovations have on value creation; and the value creation has the similar impact on resource leveraging as the management of resources has on creating the value in SMEs. In addition, the similar directions of relationships are characteristic of customer intensity and its impact on proactiveness, innovativeness, and resource leveraging. If researchers noted regarding some observed relationships between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions previously, there was no evidence to state that there are also relationships between value creation and resource leveraging, as well as customer intensity and proactiveness (Morris et al. 2002; Rezvani and Khazaei 2013). Therefore, these study findings provide the empirical evidence to state that such relationships exist, and they are positive.
The results indicate that Institutional Theory and Contingency Theory are usually used by managers to explain how the internal and external factors can influence their approach to using the entrepreneurial marketing principles and dimensions in order to enhance the sustainable development of the SME. As a result, utilising the theoretical framework based on the aspects of Institutional Theory and Contingency Theory, the study aims at explaining the relationship between such concepts as entrepreneurial marketing and sustainability and between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions. From this perspective, the study contributes to the knowledge in the field while explaining the concept of sustainability in the context of SMEs in such rapidly developing economies as Saudi Arabia. It is revealed that there is the direct positive relationship between such entrepreneurial marketing dimensions as value creation and customer intensity and such entrepreneurial marketing dimensions as proactiveness, innovativeness, and resource leveraging (Gawel 2012; Hacioglu et al. 2012). Moreover, there is also the relationship between proactiveness, resource leveraging and sustainability. These theoretical conclusions are in line with findings by Morris et al. (2002), Mitra et al. (2008), Webb et al. (2011), Gawel (2012), Rezvani and Khazaei (2013), and Wallnofer and Hacklin (2013). However, one more important contribution of the study to the theory of discussing the Saudi Arabian SMEs is that the negative relationship between innovativeness and sustainability discussed in the context of Saudi Arabian SMEs is supported with references to the current study’s results.
Implications for Managers
The results of this study can be discussed as important to improving the managerial practices in the Saudi Arabian SMEs in terms of their focus on developing sustainability based on the implementation of the entrepreneurial marketing principles and dimensions of their strategies and daily operations. From this point, the study results allow managers in SMEs to understand the important relationship between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions and sustainability with the focus on the significant effects that have proactiveness and resource leveraging on achieving the desired sustainable development. In the context of Saudi Arabia, sustainability of SMEs is a purpose for many managers, but the problem is in the lack of experience in using entrepreneurial marketing dimensions to increase the firm’s potential and guarantee sustainability. The study also contributes to understanding such challenge in the Saudi Arabian entrepreneurial marketing as the lack of focusing on innovativeness. The study findings indicate that many managers in SMEs accept the significant role of proactiveness and resource leveraging in affecting sustainability, but they lack effective practices to promote innovativeness in order to achieve sustainability quicker.
As the idea of sustainability is only developing in the country’s business environment, the current study results are helpful to promote the understanding of the SMEs’ strengths and weaknesses at their path to achieving the sustainable development with the focus on the manipulation of entrepreneurial marketing dimensions. Managers in SMEs should realise how their practices regarding the value creation and customer intensity are related to proactiveness and resource leveraging in the firm, and how all these efforts can positively influence the sustainability in the concrete company (Gawel 2012; Hacioglu et al. 2012). From this point, managers receive the opportunity to choose what entrepreneurial marketing dimensions should be implemented in what combinations. Moreover, managers need to realise that the lack of innovativeness adopted in SMEs is one of the main barriers to sustainability as the balanced growth of the company (Abdullah et al. 2014, p. 201; Alsamari et al. 2013, p. 107). While taking into account that there are direct positive relationships between EM dimensions and targeted sustainability, managers should understand what they can change in terms of restructuring their approaches to the value creation and customer intensity; what they can add to SMEs’ proactiveness and resource leveraging; and what they should change in their approaches to discussing innovativeness in companies. It is also important to note that the findings of the study are most appropriate to be implemented by managers in SMEs in Saudi Arabia because SMEs represent a special category of businesses that develops in the country according to specific laws and with the support of the government.
However, the results can also be applied by managers in SMEs in similar contexts of the rapidly developing Middle Eastern economies. In addition to managers in SMEs, the findings can be discussed as useful by the entrepreneurs and business executives who are responsible for implementing the principles of entrepreneurial marketing in their SMEs. The reason is that the study demonstrates that the sustainability of the firm is directly based on the successes of managers in applying the principles of entrepreneurial marketing in practice. As a result, this study’s findings can be used in order to prioritise the practices that can be utilised by entrepreneurs and managers with the purpose of increasing their potential for achieving sustainability. While focusing on the results of the study, it is possible to state that managers need to pay more attention to hiring skilled employees, creating and co-creating the value, and referring to customers in order to increase their proactiveness and resource leveraging to influence their strategy regarding the building of sustainability. They should focus on the customer intensity to improve proactiveness in order to achieve business sustainability for the SME in the shortest term. In addition, managers of SMEs in Saudi Arabia should become focused on the problem of innovativeness of the firm as the result of implementing innovations in the company’s practice to achieve sustainability quicker and increase the sustainable advantage.
Implications for Policy-Makers in Saudi Arabia
The study findings are also important to provide policy-makers with evidence regarding the dependence of sustainability on the effective implementation of entrepreneurial marketing dimensions in strategies of SMEs in Saudi Arabia. The problem is in the fact that the effective development of SMEs is a goal for the Saudi Arabian government and policy-makers, and they pay much attention to designing and implementing programs to support entrepreneurs, but the results are still not promising because of the lack of innovativeness in the practices and strategies of SMEs. From this point, policy-makers can refer to the results of this study in order to understand the relationship between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions and sustainability in order to re-organise their approach to promoting the sustainable development of SMEs. In order to guarantee that SMEs follow the path of sustainable development, policy-makers should formulate principles and introduce programs that aim at removing the barriers for SMEs to implement the innovative practices and tools in their daily practice. The use of innovations in practices as the condition for increasing the competitive advantage of the SME should be reflected at the state level in policies, and additional programs to support new SMEs can be proposed in order to help managers adapt to the entrepreneurial marketing context and increase their advantage.
From this point, the current study provides policy-makers with evidence on the modern situation in Saudi Arabian SMEs regarding the understanding of the role of EM dimensions in promoting sustainability. In this situation, the task of policy-makers is to create the normative environment for Saudi Arabian entrepreneurs in which the focus on entrepreneurial marketing dimensions should be a required condition in order to achieve sustainability because the current study supports the findings of other researchers in the field regarding the relationship between entrepreneurial marketing and sustainability. The industry of SMEs is rather specific, and the study results are helpful for policy-makers to accentuate the importance of using rather innovative approaches to supporting SMEs on their path to the sustainable development that is the guarantee of the healthy progress of the industry and business market in Saudi Arabia. From this point, the task of policy-makers is to decrease the number of institutional pressures in the state business context and to provide opportunities for SMEs to achieve sustainability while addressing the issue of innovativeness. The current study indicates that the focus on entrepreneurial marketing dimensions contributes to achieving sustainability in SMEs, and the main barrier is the factor of innovativeness because it is not applied correctly in SMEs, but its potential for sustainable growth is high. Therefore, policy-makers in Saudi Arabia can use these findings in order to determine the factors that need to be addressed in order to add to the development of the sustainable business environment in the state.
The first limitation of the study is the focus on the cross-sectional analysis of data instead of the longitudinal analysis of the managers’ visions and use of different entrepreneurial marketing dimensions to influence sustainability. The study represents the results that are credible only for the concrete period of time, and changes in the Saudi Arabian policies regarding SMEs can result in modifications of the strategies to address entrepreneurial marketing dimensions and achieve business sustainability. From this point, the findings illustrate the situation typical of the Saudi Arabian SMEs only for the concrete period of time. The other limitation is associated with the choice of types of SMEs to participate in the study. The respondents work in SMEs operating in the Manufacturing, Retail/Wholesale, and Services sectors of Saudi Arabia business environment. Therefore, the study conclusions are most relevant for these concrete sectors, and propositions regarding the improvements in policies are also related to these business areas.
The next limitation is related to the necessity of removing the environmental factor from discussing business sustainability in SMEs in Saudi Arabia because the managers from the selected companies indicated that their firms do not work directly to change the environmental factor while focusing on sustainable development. Finally, the data analysis tool selected for the study allows the discussion of causal relationships to represent the particular directions in them, but it is impossible to study the relationships between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions while setting opposite directions for variables.
Future Research Directions
In spite of the fact that the current research addressed the gap in the discussion of the relationship between entrepreneurial marketing and sustainability not presented in the past studies, there are still areas that require the further research. First, the future research can explore the relationship between entrepreneurial marketing and sustainability while using another type of study in order to determine how changes in managers’ manipulations of EM dimensions can affect the sustainable development of SMEs in Saudi Arabia. Second, the future study can explore the reference to entrepreneurial marketing in SMEs while involving the larger number of respondents from different sectors to generalize the conclusions for the whole sector of SMEs in Saudi Arabia that currently develops with the support of the government. Additionally, the further research is important to pay more attention to the inter-relationships of EM dimensions and their role in affecting business sustainability. The reason for the further research is in the fact that entrepreneurial marketing dimensions can influence each other in different combinations, and to guarantee that managers choose the most advantageous patterns to increase sustainability, it is necessary to expand the number of studied paths and their directions while finding the relationships between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions applied in Saudi Arabian SMEs.
The objectives of this study were to examine the predictive effect of certain EM dimensions on each other and on the business sustainability in SMEs located in Saudi Arabia. The findings indicate that in the context of Saudi Arabia, proactiveness and resource leveraging have a positive impact on increasing the potential for business sustainability, but innovativeness has no actual impact on sustainability. Even if this factor is taken into account, the presented relationship is negative. The analysis of these findings helps to understand that the reason is in the Saudi Arabian context, where SMEs lack the focus on innovativeness as the process of using new technologies and any other innovations. The study also demonstrates that the inter-relationship between entrepreneurial marketing dimensions exists, and it can have the significant effect on business sustainability.
Thus, it is found that customer intensity leads to proactiveness, and then, to sustainability. In this context, managers can find out that customer intensity is even more influential than value creation to affect proactiveness, innovativeness, and resource leveraging. These conclusions regarding the effective combinations of entrepreneurial marketing dimensions and their inter-relationships also contribute to the existing theoretical knowledge regarding the relationship between entrepreneurial marketing and sustainability. From this point, it is important to state that the current study contributed to the research debates on the problem of sustainability in SMEs and to the discussion of the relationship between entrepreneurial marketing and business sustainability, as it is realised in the complicated context of the Saudi Arabian developing economy. The managers can utilize the results of the research in order to improve their practices and approaches to choosing the tools for promoting the sustainable development in the company.
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