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How alternative consumer markets can build community resiliency

Lucie K. Ozanne (Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Julie L. Ozanne (Department of Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 11 April 2016




Time banking is a form of alternative consumer market where members trade services, non-reciprocally creating a local marketplace for services. Time Banks facilitate dyadic exchanges, meeting members’ practical needs and building diverse skills. The purpose of this research was to determine the broad capabilities developed in the Time Bank economy, and to demonstrate how these capabilities were mobilised following a series of earthquakes, contributing to the larger community’s resiliency.


Taking an ethnographic approach, data were collected using a variety of methods including interviews, focus groups, participant observation and secondary research.


Over time, this alternative consumer market developed a significant communication and social network that members activated to solve diverse practical problems facing the community. Similar to other exchange communities, the Time Bank also fostered a strong sense of community based on reciprocity and egalitarian values. Although the Time Bank was created as a marketplace to exchange local services, during a series of devastating earthquakes, it galvanised adaptive capacities, increasing the resiliency of the local community during disaster relief and reconstruction.

Research limitations/implications

The data were drawn from one alternative exchange system in New Zealand.

Practical implications

The study shows how grassroots alternative consumer markets like Time Banks build community capacities alongside the formal economy. During normal times, this system meets consumer needs, but in extraordinary times, this system provides community shock absorbers, thereby enhancing community resiliency.

Social implications

The Time Bank was particularly adept at leveraging local knowledge to provide social support to those residents who were most vulnerable.


Data were collected before, during, and after the earthquakes, providing a rare opportunity to explore the process of community resiliency in action. This research extends existing theories of community resiliency explaining the development and activation of capacities by a local alternative consumer market.



The authors acknowledge the support provided by a grant from the New Zealand Ministry of Emergency Management and Civil Defence and the College of Business and Law at the University of Canterbury. The authors thank the members of the Lyttelton Time Bank and the residents of Lyttelton for sharing their stories. The authors also appreciate collegial reviews by Laurel Anderson, Anthony Cobb, Crile Doscher, Wendy Everingham, Colin Gabler, Margaret Jefferies, Julie Lee, Rebeca Perrin and Bige Saatcioglu, as well as the assistance provided by Priya Berry, Stephanie Carroll and Amber Eanes.


Ozanne, L.K. and Ozanne, J.L. (2016), "How alternative consumer markets can build community resiliency", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 50 No. 3/4, pp. 330-357.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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