International recognition for business marketing research at the Oulu Business School

In a recent publication, the business marketing research done at the Oulu Business School was ranked among the best in the world.

Industrial Marketing Management is one of the leading journals in marketing, especially in the context of business-to-business (B2B) marketing. A recently published paper by Martínez-López et al., (2020) presented a thorough bibliometric overview of the journal, through analysis of data acquired from Web of Science Core Collection database, in order to identify the leading actors in the journal. 

According to the results, in terms of the most productive and influential institutions in IMM, University of Oulu was ranked as 16th among all contributing institutions around the world. This ranking demonstrates the significant role that Oulu Business School has globally in the research around business marketing. The results also show that Finnish researchers in general have a big role in the theory development in business marketing, as the most productive and influential countries in IMM were ranked as follows: 1. USA, 2. UK and 3. Finland.

Bringing human aspect into business-to-business relationships

B2B marketing research focuses on exchanges between organizations. In fact, over 50% of world economic activities are conducted in exchanges between organizations. Basically organizational customers are expected to behave rationally and with high professionality in their buying behavior and decision-making, but one of the key approaches in B2B marketing is to examine the inter-organizational relationships as composed of human behavior including complex social interactions, trust and knowledge-sharing. Moreover, understanding such business relationships in the context of wider networks of such relationship among various industry actors forms the basis of the theoretical discussion within B2B marketing.  

“To us, it is indeed this human aspect that makes B2B marketing research so challenging, but at the same time so fascinating!” argues Oulu Business School's marketing professors Satu Nätti and Pauliina Ulkuniemi.

The long roots of B2B marketing research

B2B marketing research in University of Oulu has its roots in early 1990´s when marketing was included into the program portfolio in the business education. As a part of the Faculty of Technology, the marketing education was heavily related to the marketing aspects relevant to industrial firms and thus emphasis was put on B2B marketing. Also, in Finland, the importance of firms operating in business markets is significant. We have not had international firms operating in consumer markets to the same extent. This also explains the focus and development of B2B marketing research in Finland in general. 

B2B marketing is currently being studied at the Oulu Business School´s research unit of Marketing, Management and International business. With over 50 researchers, the unit has been active in advancing the theoretical understanding of phenomena relevant to firms operating business markets, from the perspective of marketing, but also management and international business. Currently, interorganizational relationships and firm behavior in business markets is being examined from the perspectives of e.g. digital business, services, public procurement, branding, strategic management and sustainable innovations. The research is closely connected to University of Oulu’s strategic profiling areas in Sustainable materials and systems (in InStreams) and Understanding humans in change (GenZ). These multidisciplinary platforms provide a relevant and fruitful avenues for future research in B2B marketing.

Francisco J. Martínez-López, José M. Merigó, Juan Carlos Gázquez-Abad and José Luis Ruiz-Real (2020) Industrial marketing management: Bibliometric overview since its foundation, Industrial Marketing Management, 84, 19-38.


Last updated: 2.10.2020