Marketing practice varies among firms. However, the prescriptive
literature emphasises a universal view of practice, a
“one-size-fits-all” view. This paper addresses the issue of explaining
diversity in competitive space and over time. Diversity in competitive
space reflects the existence of different routes to high performance.
Diversity over time reflects some combination of change in the
individual firm and change in a population of firms. In the former case,
diversity is shaped by organisational change; in the latter by the
disbandment and founding of firms in the population. Miles and Snow’s
typology is taken as a main point of departure in the search for
explanation, and ecological and evolutionary concepts are also drawn
upon. The paper starts by examining the discussion of diversity in the
literature of strategic management and organisation theory, and then
finds evidence of an emerging interest in diversity in the domain of
marketing. Based on a number of cross-sectional and longitudinal case
studies, it proceeds to explore diversity in company marketing practice.
How such variety evolves at industry level is then addressed. Finally, a
view of industries as business systems with complex adaptive
mechanisms, enabling both evolutionary and revolutionary changes in
marketing practice, is offered.