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Paper info: Portfolio Holes in Customer Portfolio Management


Portfolio Holes in Customer Portfolio Management


Markus Vanharanta
Lancaster University
United Kingdom
Markus Vanharanta

Place of Publication

The paper was published at the 32nd IMP-conference in Poznan, Poland in 2016.


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In this manuscript, we conceptualize the nature and managerial use of “portfolio holes” in relation to B2B relationship portfolio management, with an emphasis on customer portfolios. By portfolio holes we are referring to the systematic use of absence as a means to shape relationship portfolios. Portfolio holes are a conceptual portfolio analysis and management tool. Portfolio holes add value to marketing by improving suppliers’ agency in portfolio management. This improvement in managerial agency however requires specific marketing conditions, which are examined in this manuscript. In addition, our findings indicate that portfolio holes are beneficial as a tool to enforce sales discipline over a sales force. Furthermore, there can be cognitive and communicational benefits in using a negative vocabulary associated with portfolio holes to describe portfolio situations. Our investigation is based on a successful US $400 Mn cost saving program by a leading oil company.