This study identifies the potential contribution that institutional theory can make to understanding the success of marketing practices. Based on institutional theory, we argue that the effectiveness of marketing practices decreases when firms are motivated to adopt such practices under the influence of institutional pressures originating in firms' environments. However, alignment between a practice and a firm's marketing strategy may buffer against these negative effects. We apply these insights to the case of customer relationship management (CRM). CRM is considered an important way to enhance customer loyalty and firm performance, but it has also been criticized for being expensive and for not living up to expectations. Empirical data from 107 organizations confirm that, in general, adopting CRM for mimetic motives is likely to result in fewer customer insights as a result of using this practice. Our study suggests that institutional theory has much to offer to the investigation of the effectiveness of marketing practices.

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Keywords Adoption, Customer relationship management, Institutional theory, Marketing practices, Mimetic motives
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Hillebrand, B, Nijholt, J.J, & Nijssen, E.J. (2011). Exploring CRM effectiveness: an institutional theory perspective. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 39(4), 592–608. doi:10.1007/s11747-011-0248-3