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Market Orientation and Firm Performance: an Empirical Examination of the Rice Market in Taiwan
The rice industry in Taiwan has been characterized as a traditionally homogenous commodity market with increasingly segmented and differentiated value chains. Given the recent increase in the production-marketing alliance and branded products, this rice market presents an interesting opportunity to fill the research gap by examining the performance implications of market orientation in production agriculture. The study will conduct a survey of rice farmers employing measurement scales of firm performance, market orientation, and other resources such as cost efficiency, innovation, organizational learning and entrepreneurship. Structural equation modeling (SEM) is used to examine the hypothesized relationships between firm performance and various factors.Specifically, this study is intended to answer if there is a market orientation- performance link in the current Taiwan rice industry and if this link is present within non-alliance rice producers. The basic premise behind this analysis is that firms who are more closely aligned with and better understand their clients and market demands will achieve better performance. Previous research examining firm performance in agriculture has generally focused on improving production efficiency and the structural characteristics of successful firms. To improve financial performance, agricultural firms have often focused on the tangible resources needed to achieve cost advantage. As these resources provide little barriers to imitation and substitution, their ability to provide producers with a sustainable competitive advantage may be limited. On the contrary, the development of a market orientation is both socially complex and causally ambiguous, limiting its ability to be perfectly imitated.Thus, one interesting question is that the relative importance of cost efficiency and market orientation among the alliance and non-alliance participants. This study seeks to analyze how the balance between an internal focus (cost efficiency) and external focus (market orientation) is related to farm viability enhancement. As the economic viability of small farms continues to be an issue facing policy makers and economists alike, a market orientation may also be a valuable resource producers can develop as they compete in a marketplace dominated by larger firms or foreign imports. Finally, the study will discuss the implications of different components of market orientation along with other resources for agribusiness strategies to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.
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