Role of absorptive capabilities in outsourcing the headquarters selling task in the United States

Unal B., Donthu N.

INDUSTRIAL MARKETING MANAGEMENT, vol.43, no.6, pp.1079-1084, 2014 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 43 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.indmarman.2014.05.021
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1079-1084
  • Keywords: Outsourcing, Social capital, Absorptive capabilities, Dynamic capabilities, Resource-advantage theory, RESOURCE-BASED VIEW, DYNAMIC CAPABILITIES, ADVANTAGE THEORY, FIRM, PERSPECTIVE, NETWORKS
  • TED University Affiliated: Yes


Manufacturers often outsource headquarters selling task to sales and marketing agencies. Headquarters selling task is one of the most outsourced sales and marketing functions and it entails all the activities that a manufacturer conducts in order to sell its product line to the headquarters of a retailer. Thus, effective management of headquarters selling task has a strategic importance for the manufacturer. This study examines the role of absorptive capabilities in outsourcing headquarters selling task. Using resource-advantage theory, this study proposes a theoretical model to link the resources and absorptive capabilities of the outsourcer (manufacturer) and the outsourcee (sales and marketing agency) to performance outcomes. Using data from field interviews of managers an empirical model was tested. The results showed that resources of both the outsourcer and the outsourcee are important in turning potential complementarities into higher outsourcing performance. Contrary to the common belief that outsourcing is a one-sided transaction where only the outsourcee is responsible from the performance outcomes, this study suggests that both parties involved need to combine their resource assortments in the accomplishment of the task. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.