A Historical Perspective on The Relationship Between Firm and The Market

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Publicerad: 2008-12-09


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Purpose: The paper aims to consider the different ways the firm-marketplace relationship has gone through over time in order; on one hand; to develop some interpretive reasoning and; on the other hand; to introduce some questions able to direct future research.

Methodology/Approach: A conceptual approach is taken; trying to provide an understanding of the long-term changings that took place in the firm-marketplace relationship in its first part; and to raise some relevant issues about the evolution to come in is second part.

Findings: In the firm-marketplace relationship evolution five significant stages are to be found: product and selling orientation; marketing orientation; total quality management; one-to-one/relationship marketing; experience economy.

So; if one looks retrospectively and on the whole at the evolution occurred in the above mentioned relationship through the different stages; it’s quite easy to realize that a shift took place from:

  • mass to individual as supply’s addressee
  • unsatisfied needs to sensations to be felt as customer’s end
  • goods and things to services and experiences as transaction’s core in a context of ever growing supply’s quantity; variety; quality and accessibility.
From an interpretive point of view; it seems that business firm and capitalistic system got to highest degree of development and of exploitation of their potential; at least if no change of paradigm is assumed.

As a matter of fact; it seems really hard to imagine for almost any product a more plentiful marketplace; a greater choice among alternative offers; a superior technical performance; an easier purchase availability; a higher customization; a stronger perceived utility and satisfaction.

As long as such analysis proves right; it’s quite logical to conclude that the ongoing paradigm has reached its possible maximum outcome. If so; it becomes reasonable to hypothesize the rising of a new paradigm in the firm-marketplace relationship; considerably different from the actual one.

(Not) to conclude; some insightful questions for discussion and future research could be:

  • how much frequent is a product shortage situation?
  • what can be products’ quality level?
  • is it harder to choose because of too many alternatives or too little ones?
  • what can be there beyond a brand able to provide even love?
  • how come business ethics and corporate social responsibility are so popular topics of discussion today both among academics and practitioners?
  • how come consumption-wellbeing relationship; happiness or; better; happiness paradox are getting more and more attention nowadays?
  • how can simplicity-oriented lifestyle choices and growing number of anti-business movements be explained?
  • are there any weak signals of innovative firm behaviour detectable?
  • what is the direction such changings are pointing to?
Limitation/implication: As the paper provides a personal interpretation of what happened and is going on from the firm-marketplace perspective; anyone could object or at least non completely agree with such an interpretation.

Originality/Value: The paper tries to take in and to relate to the managerial field some broad issues often discussed in civil; social and economic realm. While firms are deeply involved in the actual state of capitalism and society at large; it seems no equivalent contribution has been made by management scholars in order to find a more suitable role for the firm.


Firm-marketplace relationship; evolution; paradigm shift; new firm models


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