Original Empirical Research

Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 300-319

First online:

Competence resource specialization, causal ambiguity, and the creation and decay of competitiveness: the role of marketing strategy in new product performance and shareholder value

  • Jared M. HansenAffiliated withBelk College of Business, University of North Carolina Charlotte Email author 
  • , Robert E. McDonaldAffiliated withRawls College of Business, Texas Tech University
  • , Ronald K. MitchellAffiliated withRawls College of Business, Texas Tech University

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Marketing strategists should create, maintain, and arrest the decay of causally ambiguous resource competences that lead to competitiveness and thus performance. However, competence causal ambiguity, which helps create competitiveness, is also implicated in competitiveness decay. In this study we test a model of specialization-competitiveness-performance using primary and secondary data from 169 public respondents/firms, to examine the effects of negative internal barriers to replication and adaptation. These barriers develop due to resource lock-in arising from the same specialization processes that lead to the positive barriers to imitation that deter competitors. Results suggest that commitment to learning can mitigate resource lock-in problems with internal competence causal ambiguity, competence causal ambiguity among competitors appears more essential to competitiveness in more competitive markets, competitiveness positively relates to both shareholder value and new product performance, and an increased differential focus on marketing versus operations in the organization strengthens the positive bridge between organizational competitiveness and shareholder return.


Competence Organizational competitiveness Marketing strategy Resource specialization Causal ambiguity Resource lock-in Commitment to learning Tobin’s q