Globalization of Local Retailing

Pia Polsa, Hanken School of Economics, and Xiucheng Fan, School of Management, Fudan University, published “Globlization of Local Retailing: Threat or Opportunity? The case of Food Retailing in Guilin, China,” in Online First in Journal of Macromarketing.

Professor Polsa provided additional commentary regarding the article.

Who is the target audience for this article?

The paper is of interest for those scholars who are studying retailing, particularly retail development. The study shows alternative ways of categorizing retailers and how an alternative level of analysis discovers the importance of traditional small retailers. The article may provide insights to the policy makers as well; the results indicate that despite their seemingly inefficient business styles small retailers serve societies and preserve local cultures.

What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

Having done longitudinal fieldwork in one smaller city and met the informants several times between 1993 and 2010,I realized the change in their lives, the change in the society and some of the drawback of the rapid economic development. The voice of those who disappear needed to be heard. That voice now also contributes to our theoretical discussion of retail categories and development.

Were there findings that were surprising to you?

Yes, the new categories. I was used to see retailers grouped into the different formats like supermarkets, specialty stores, department stores, and so on, but the smaller retailers had functions that served them as entrepreneurs which provided novel categories. The voice of small entrepreneurs was the key to these findings.

How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

Since retailing in developing countries carries other functions than those of economic efficiency, this study can provide an alternative view for the retailing development by considering other alternatives to the traditional retailers than that of disappearance. Future research can provide further findings on retail typology and alternative courses of development. Reappearance of small retailers might be a phenomenon in industrialized countries worth studying and meaning of retail business for owners in developing countries is another.

How does this study fit into your body or work/line of research?

I have always been interested in issues of small, peripheral, vulnerable, and less affluent in addition to marketing channels that I have published in. The current article combines the two.

How did your paper change during the review process?

We were very fortunate with the reviewers. Their comments brought our thoughts forward. For example, comments on glocalization added depth in the theory.

What, if anything, would you do if you could go back and do this study again?

I would have a better plan for observations and photographing.

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