For companies in todays technological and advanced environment, it is of great importance to discover new market opportunities and to decide which opportunities to pursue, in order to stay competitive. Due to the importance and success of the local maritime clusters in Norway, as well as the authors interest in the industry, this thesis sought out to answer two research questions. The first is how maritime companies in a successful cluster discover new market opportunities, and the second is how these companies decide which opportunities to pursue.
To answer these complex questions, an industry and literature review were conducted, and formed the foundation for the thesis. Academic literature on market orientation and strategic decision making were chosen to shed light on the two research questions, respectively. Theory on clusters was used as supportive literature. Together, these theoretical fields were used to develop theoretical propositions.
A multiple case study approach has been utilized, and eleven semi-structured interviews with people from seven different companies formed the empirical data for the thesis. For this study, it has been chosen to focus on companies in the successful cluster in Møre. Through the interviews, knowledge and understanding of specific opportunities and decision making processes were obtained. Following the interviews, the empirical data was analyzed in relation to the theoretical propositions.
The study finds that the maritime companies in Møre discover opportunities through their customer orientation. These opportunities occur when customers present their needs or when the companies actively search for new opportunities. Findings also indicate that the few companies that are competitor oriented, discover opportunities through their monitoring and analyzes of competitors.
It has been found that most maritime companies in Møre have a long-term focus when they decide which opportunities to pursue, but that the decisions are made in different ways. Some companies behave rationally and perform structured processes intended to increase their information basis before making a final decision. Other companies base their decisions mainly on intuition, and these decisions are often based on top executives experience and judgement.
The thesis has proposed that the maritime companies should focus more on their competitors to discover more market opportunities. Further, it is believed that a focus on customers, competitors and on being interfunctionally coordinated, while also becoming more proactively market oriented, can be ways to gain a competitive advantage in the future Norwegian maritime offshore industry. Already today, it is found that customer orientation is a necessity to compete in this industry. Based on the analysis, it is also identified that the shipowners, even though they make large investments, mainly base their decisions on intuition.
From a theoretical standpoint the thesis has broadened the theoretical field of market orientation, as it investigates it in relation to opportunity discovery and strategic decision making. Further, the thesis has provided a discussion of how the concept of market orientation varies between companies with different sizes, and it shows support for cluster theory on the effects of being affiliated to a cluster.
Institutt for industriell økonomi og teknologiledelse , 2014. , 117 p.