Path Dependence in Personal Selling : A Meso-Analysis of Vertical Integration
William T., ROSS, Jr.
We examine an unusual form of path dependence, in which suppliers that take different decision paths end up in the same position: excessive vertical integration of the personal selling function. We argue that this is the case even though outsourcing is more seriously considered than ever, and economic arguments for outsourcing the sales function are compelling. We develop an institutional explanation at the meso level (a combination of individual, organization, and environmental forces, explicitly considering how these levels combine). This meso-analysis focuses on four forces driving firms toward being locked into employee sales forces. We enumerate and classify these mechanisms, illustrating them with a simple simulation of how outsourcing sales becomes rare. We close with testable propositions about which firms are most likely to break their dependence on a vertically integrated path.
path dependence; personal selling; outsourcing; sales function
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