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Much of the sub-unit's research focuses on marketing in the context of entrepreneurial/SME management and consumer behaviour.

Although there is particular regional emphasis, the research is also relevant in the national and international context. This is consistent with observations made in previous research assessment exercises for more small business research involving comparative studies, both within the EU and internationally. Hence, research examines the theory and practice of marketing in a variety of business contexts. Key research themes include marketing competencies, networking, financial services, retro-marketing, gender, retailing and e-commerce.

Research themes

International Business

An important element of the research seeks to provide new perspectives on the internationalization of firms with regard to the role of the Internet, networking and the influence of top management teams. Loane concentrates on international new ventures, particularly those within knowledge-intensive sectors that are likely to provide much of the future growth within advanced economies. Beamish focuses on international acquisitions, investigating the impact of ownership change, subsidiary contraction/expansion, foreign subsidiary localisation and CEO career horizons. Fang, Ibbotson and Ramsey have concentrated on the assimilation of new technologies, skills acquisition and the internationalization process, particularly within SMEs. The research output has examined the practical management problems experienced by SMEs and entrepreneurial firms as they embrace and implement E-Business strategies. A number of innovative research designs have been employed within the group, characterized by a qualitative and holistic integration of micro-firm and macro-industry perspectives, the use of Internet-based methodologies and projective techniques.

Collaborative projects involving e-marketing and online buyer behaviour are underway with colleagues at Otago and the Richard Ivey School of Business, including Cotte. Research has also involved international collaboration with Nebraska, Waterloo (Canada), Turku and Lapeenranta (Finland), as well as joint research with scholars in UK universities (Aston, Aberystwyth, Glasgow, Manchester, Strathclyde). The group has also fostered close links with practitioners and policy makers from various bodies including the Federation of Small Business, InvestNI and numerous Local Enterprise Agencies and Enterprise Boards in Northern Ireland and the Republic of lreland.

Marketing / Entrepreneurship Interface

The overall theme within the group is the range of management interactions that occur between marketing and other disciplines as well as various stakeholder groups. Kearney and McGowan have concentrated on the marketing/entrepreneurship interface. The research has provided an increased understanding of the concept of an academic entrepreneur as well as examining entrepreneurial small firms and internet adoption. Through a variety of qualitative and quantitative studies this work has contributed to the theoretical domain in the emerging area of remote relationship management.

The research group has been involved in long-term collaborative research with academics from Monash, Orebro (Sweden), Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration and Southern Cross (Australia).

Consumer Behaviour and Retailing

Brown has been investigating the concept of retro brands to develop theory that contributes to marketing principles and practice, particularly brand management. This is complemented by research that examines how consumers negotiate cultural meanings, and suggests a range of strategies that producers/retailers could adopt. His recent collaborative article in the highly rated Journal of Consumer Research supports this argument by examining the myths and meanings around the Titanic brand. Cotte extends this approach by investigating consumer influence in terms of gender, social network positioning and online gambling habits. From a retailing perspective, Armstrong and Hutchinson have examined UK retailers and consumers, with part of the work being funded from UK and regional government sources. Key areas of research include the nature and characteristics of SME retailer expansion, the role of stakeholders and learning processes within retail internationalization and using consumer feedback from the Dunnhumby database to identify new markets. The group has close links to the Kellogg School of Management (USA), Kent, Keele, Otago, Monash and Queen's University Belfast. In addition, Brown has worked with some of the world's leading consumer researchers, including Hirschman (Rutgers), Sherry (Notre Dame) and Kozinets (Toronto). Research linkages also include a range of organizations, including Tesco, Independent Retail Trade Association and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (NI).