Awareness, action and context-specificity of blue ocean practices in sales management

Petri Parvinen*, Jaakko Aspara, Joel Hietanen, Sami Kajalo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper aims to investigate the role of new value creation mechanisms in a company's sales strategy. Using value creation and strategic marketing as theoretical approaches, the study explores the underpinnings of blue ocean strategy (BOS) and categorizes ways in which BOS is reflected in sales management activities. The link to performance and the influence of contextual moderation are also examined. The article reports on a study on sales management in a 168-respondent survey of CEOs and sales directors of Finnish companies across industries. The operationalization is quantitative, and principal component analysis with the varimax rotation method is used to examine the companies' approach to executing BOS and the firms are categorized using the cluster analysis method. Furthermore, the linkage to self-reported business performance is statistically analyzed. This study identifies four approaches to using BOS: strategic awareness-building; customer-specific solution orientation; enforcement-orientation; and non-employment of blue ocean thinking. While only the enforcement-orientation cluster has superior performance to non-users of BOS across the entire sample, there are surprisingly notable performance differentials within different combinations of contexts. The study points out that enforcing BOS at the level of action and implementation in sales management pays off. The findings entail that choosing between the identified BOS approaches and implementing them should be context-specific. Furthermore, the development of skills is emphasized over knowledge management. For concepts primarily directed at managerial audiences, the theoretical foundations and empirical testability is often not the primary concern. This study presents investigative work geared at revealing the key factors underlying blue ocean strategies in sales management. The paper represents one of the first verifications of the link between blue ocean strategy and business performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1218-1234
Number of pages17
JournalManagement Decision
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sep 2011
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Blue ocean strategy
  • Business model transformation
  • Management strategy
  • Sales management
  • Value innovation


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