Purpose: The purpose of this study was to
(1) Identify the skills needed to be effective in international marketing;
(2) identify the level of importance of each of these skills;
(3) identify the degree to which these skills are present in employees of exporting companies; and
(4) describe the gap between the skills these employees have and the skills they need.
Methodology: Data were collected, regarding skill importance, through a Delphi panel of thirty academic and practitioner international marketing experts. Seventy companies, exporting between $500,000 and $50 million, were surveyed regarding the degree their employees possessed the identified skills. Possession ratings were compared across importance ratings, in a way that allowed skill-based areas for training programs to be prioritized.
Findings: Sixty-six skills were identified as being needed for effective international marketing, and were classified into five categories:
(1) planning and operational skills;
(2) pricing skills;
(3) promotional skills;
(4) product skills; and
(5) distribution skills.
Twenty-five of the skills were rated as being highly important, forty-one were rated as being of medium importance, and none were rated as being of low importance. Small and medium-sized actively exporting companies indicated high or medium degrees of possession for sixty-five of the sixty-six skills, yet the promotional skill category clearly emerged as their most deficient. Possession ratings were compared across importance ratings, which identified twenty-five international marketing skills as training priorities.
Conclusions:There were three major managerial implications based on the findings:
(1) Implications relating to the degree that small and medium-sized actively exporting companies may participate in international marketing training programs;
(2) International promotional skills should be the topic most emphasized when offering international marketing training programs; and
(3) This study has produced a new assessment tool which would go a long way to assist firms in identifying international marketing training needs.