Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Life outside the ‘marketing machine’: a phenomenographic study of marketing practice

conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-13, 13:33 authored by Keith Glanfield, Carola Wolf, Gary Burke,

In summary much of the marketing literature that states its intention to address the practices of marketing and the practice of marketers, as set out in appendix 1, is managerialist in nature. It conceptualises and identifies a set of diverse technical activities that are involved in the practice of marketing i.e. managing digital and social advertising (Gordon, Jerath, Katona, Narayanan, Shin, and Wilbur, 2021), the capture of Marketing information (Du, Netzer, Schweidel, and Mitra , 2021) or addressing the challenges of Omi-Channel retailing (Cui, Ghose, Halaburda, Iyengar, Pauwels, Sriram, Tucker, and Venkataraman (2021).

Some try and move away from this managerialist perspective and endeavour to characterise the phenomena of the practice of Marketing by Marketers by classifying Marketers’ work (see appendix 2) into a set of Marketing capabilities (Verhoef et al, 2011), understand Marketing’s reputation in a business (Gok, Peker, and Hacioglu, 2015) or to examine the functional conflicts between Marketing and other functions (Tang, Fu and Xie, 2017). From this perspective researchers are undertaking phenomenological investigations, aiming to clarify the structure and meaning of the phenomena (Giorgi, 1999) of Marketing practice and the essence of common Marketing practices. Again such investigations often arrive at a set basic and common technical practices adopted by Marketers.

In summary the literature assumes marketing has automatic legitimacy in an organisation, marketing has a legitimate place and space to practice, marketing work spans the full technical discipline, marketing work is not contested and marketers are respected, have significant influence and they are free to use the tools and language of the discipline as they feel fit. In other words marketing is an established function in an organisation supported by formalised structures and effective organisational wide processes. It is an established ‘marketing machine’.

This paper proposes taking a different research approach to understanding and classifying the practices of marketers, that of Phenomenography (Morton, 1981).

Phenomenography, moves away from commonly classifying the essence of marketing practice as a phenomena and instead focusses on understanding the variation in how people experience, understand or conceive of the phenomena of marketing practice (Morton, 1996).


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