Selling the sizzle (and some spelling misteaks)

International Marketing. First Edition - Global Marketing Management. First Edition
February 24, 2006

One might expect that two textbooks on substantially the same subject would have much in common, but this is not always the case. Apart from the obvious difference that one looks at global marketing management and the other one looks at international marketing (and we can debate that one until next Michaelmas), these two texts are as unlike as chalk and history.

International Marketing is a text aimed at an undergraduate audience. Its German authors lead us through the subject in a logical and efficient manner but without much spark and with virtually no pedagogy - a major failing in the textbook market, where any book that does not devote three quarters of its content to pedagogy is likely to be relegated to the lecturer's bookshelf and used for reference only. The case studies are apparently all invented, which is not good. Being able to string words together to write a textbook does not mean that one can write fiction, and attempts to do so almost always result in stilted, unconvincing cases. The authors did offer me a couple of new ideas, though. One is what they call "waterfall entry strategy" as opposed to "shower entry strategy". These are definitely more interesting than the Uppsala School and J. H. Dunning's Eclectic Theory, so hurrah for waterfalls and showers. Another interesting section covers co-ordinating converging markets - an important concept for international (or even global) marketing.

For a UK audience, the text has far too many equations and formulae. UK undergraduates cannot do hard sums, so the book would need further translation by lecturers, who might have similar difficulties themselves.

Too many boxed examples in places, out-of-date case studies (one refers to Deutschmarks), and a remarkable number of typos and misprints give this book an old-fashioned feel: it really has little to recommend it over its competitors.

Misprints and typos also feature in the second book, Global Marketing Management (what has happened to all the proofreaders?). This book is also aimed at undergraduates, but there the resemblance ends. It offers plenty of pedagogical features, linked to a robust theoretical groundwork and a clear, almost exuberant writing style. The production of the book is excellent, too - the kind of all-singing, all-dancing product we have come to expect only from the Americans, who have a bigger market and charge more for books. The authors use real companies as case studies, and with one or two exceptions have avoided the usual suspects. There is an excellent chapter on ethics, in which the anti-globalisation movement is confronted head-on. We do not live in a perfect world, though. There is some repetition (food being culturally based pops up more than once, even though it isn't) and some typos actually alter the meaning of the text. The most peculiar aspect of the book is the photographs, which seem to have been put in for decoration with captions bearing no relationship to the photo. One shows five people watching TV over the caption "Negotiation skills are an essential factor in successful selling". Negotiating possession of the remote control, perhaps? Despite these faults, this book is worth a look.

It is lively, rigorous, comprehensive and well produced. A fine example of the genre.

Jim Blythe is reader in marketing, Glamorgan Business School.

International Marketing. First Edition

Author - Klaus Backhaus, Joachim Buschken and Markus Voeth
Publisher - Palgrave Macmillan
Pages - 466
Price - £34.99
ISBN - 0 333 96388 1

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