Cause-Related Marketing, Legitimacy and Internationalization of Professional Service Firms: A Case Study of Football Talent Scouting Microfirm

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Purpose – The current paper addresses the role of legitimacy in internationalization to Africa of a Finnish micro professional service firm operating which uses cause-related marketing (CRM) as the business model.
Design/methodology/approach – Our paper consists of a single case study of a micro firm (2 employees) originating from Finland, which has successfully internationalized into many African countries. Due to the uniqueness of the context, we use semi-structured interviews to collect founders’ insights to the issue being addressed. Moreover, along with interviews, secondary sources related to football talent scouting in Africa are also utilized in the paper.
Findings – We found out that case company was established with the aim of helping and uplifting poor African footballers, so the business model is CRM. It has scouted many of them for professional football clubs of Europe. We find out that sociopolitical legitimacy plays a major role in dealing with African footballers and local stakeholders, while cognitive legitimacy helped the case firm gain the trust of European football clubs.
Originality/value – Internationalization of micro firms operating in the service sector is rather under-researched area compared to the internationalization of SMEs and large MNEs. Our paper is one of the first to study internationalization of a micro professional service firm involved in scouting football talent in Africa and matchmaking them with European football clubs. It contributes to extant CRM and internationalization literature by being one of the first to analyze a firm whose business model revolves around CRM and discussing specific roles of different kinds of legitimacies needed for internationalization to Africa in this specific service sector.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Marketing Review
Early online date24 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Africa
  • Cause-Related Marketing
  • Internationalization
  • Professional Service Firm
  • Talent Scouting and Legitimacy


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