A firm's market orientation is an important factor influencing its ability to successfully develop and introduce new products. To measure market orientation, Narver and Slater's MKTOR scale has been accepted in the literature as a valid and reliable scale. In fact, it can be considered state of the art. This study, though, challenges the validity of that scale in high-tech industries and transition economies. As part of a larger study, the scale was used to measure the market orientation of 10 Russian high-tech small- and medium-sized enterprises, next to other measures of market orientation. These were the respondent's perceptions of their market orientation; the firm's philosophy on selling goods/services or solving customer problems; and in-depth interview questions on goals, strategies, network ties, targeted market segments, and competitive advantage. It was found that the firms obtained high scores on the MKTOR scale but that these scores were accompanied by ideas and behaviors reflecting a low or even lacking market orientation. On a scale from 1 to 7, the firms average 6.2 on customer orientation, but at the same time, they are not aware that they do not have customer-focused strategies and do not fully understand the chain in which they operate. Further, the average on competitor orientation is 5.4. Some firms have competitor-oriented characteristics, but others are ignorant of their competition and believe in their technological superiority as a source of competitive advantage. Analyzing these anomalies, it is concluded that the scale requires a minimum level of marketing knowledge of respondents. Without such knowledge, the MKTOR scale is susceptible to the respondent's unconscious incapability, thereby producing invalid results. In the 10 Russian cases, the respondents did not have much experience or education in marketing, which explains why they were incapable of adequately answering the items of the MKTOR scale. The results of this study help to explain the ambivalent findings in the literature about the effect of market orientation on innovation and new product development in high-tech sectors and transition economies. The paper concludes with suggestions on how market orientation could be better measured in such contexts. It is suggested to replace the Likert-scale by a semantic differential scale, where statements reflecting product, production, and sales orientations are confronted with statements reflecting a market orientation. Given the importance of experience and education in marketing as positive antecedents, measures of these factors should be included in the scale as well. With these adaptations, measures of market orientation will be more factual, will require less knowledge of marketing terminology, will reduce bias caused by respondents' perceptions, and will prevent ambiguity in terminology.
Roersen, M., Kraaijenbrink, J., & Groen, A. J. (2013). Marketing ignorance and the validity of Narver and Slater's MKTOR scale in high-tech Russian firms. Journal of product innovation management, 30(3), 545-559. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpim.12003