Investigating internal market orientation: is context relevant?

Qionglei YU*, Bradley R. BARNES, Yu YE

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)



Through undertaking qualitative research within different industrial contexts, the study aims to address the following: How do practitioners in non-service organisations interpret internal market orientation (IMO); How is IMO practiced within an eastern cultural context; and What are the outcomes of its implementation?


The study examines three organisations from three different industries and draws on nine in-depth interviews with people across various levels within each organisation.


The study reveals that: a) senior management commitment should be included in the design of IMO at the strategic level; b) effective responsiveness to internal information collected is crucial to its success; c) creative ways to meet internal customers’ needs and expectations are contextualised; and d) cultural nuances need to be considered when applying IMO.

Research limitations/implications:

Choosing a multiple-case study approach provides in-depth explanations; however, such an approach may lead to less generalisability.

Practical implications:

The study advocates that a) some degree of resources are needed to ensure that IMO can be fully implemented and employee welfare enhanced; b) creativity is required for each organisational context responding to employees’ needs, expectations, complaints or ideas; and c) removing unnecessary barriers can help to foster better interdepartmental relationships and, thus, improve work procedures and employee satisfaction.


This study contributes to the literature by developing a framework to signal the importance of IMO as a facilitator for better firm communication and performance. Contextualised IMO practices from the cases may shed further light on specific best practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-539
Number of pages17
JournalQualitative Market Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Case studies
  • Firm communication
  • Internal market orientation
  • Organisational performance


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