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Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited
There is no single unifying theme to the dissertations selected for this issue. The theme-based selections in the past few issues meant that some interesting pieces of research that did not "fit" within a particular theme were overlooked. The subjects range from marketing intelligence to channel communications and eco-marketing to multilevel marketing.
Marketing intelligence is the subject of Thomas F. Groom's (2001) doctoral dissertation, Marketing Intelligence: Executive Management Perceptions of Value (Brunel University). The focus here is on senior executives' perceptions of the value of marketing intelligence and whether there are relationships between these perceptions and the profitability of organisations. A postal survey of the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies revealed little evidence of a link between favourable perceptions of marketing intelligence and overall organisation performance. One interesting aspect of this research is the debate as to what exactly constitutes marketing intelligence and how this relates to and differs from marketing research, competitor and competitive intelligence, market intelligence, knowledge management, industrial espionage and business intelligence. Many of these terms are used interchangeably.
The relationship between positive attitudes to the natural environment and ecology and actual customer buying behaviours is not a new subject for marketing researchers. However, few researchers have examined this issue from the perspective of retailers. Green marketing is examined in Helene Tjarnemo's (2001) dissertation, "Eco-marketing and eco-management: exploring the eco-orientation – performance link in food retailing" (Lunds Universitet). This research, based on a survey of Swedish food retailers, found a positive relationship between ecological orientation, sales of ecological food products and overall store performance. Interestingly, retailers who considered that it was possible to combine eco-concern and good business were more likely to integrate eco-issues into their operations than those retailers with a general positive attitude to eco-issues.
Multilevel marketing often receives a poor press yet its reach is extensive. Ronald James Kuntze's (2001) dissertation, "The dark side of multilevel marketing: appeals to the symbolically incomplete" (Arizona State University), points out that over nine million Americans work for multilevel marketing firms – more than one in every four households. This research focuses on the participants in the multilevel marketing phenomenon. Apart from its inherent interest, this research will also be of interest to all those researchers in entrepreneurial and small-business marketing, since Kuntze compares and contrasts multilevel marketing participants with more "traditional" entrepreneurs. Kuntze found the former group to be significantly less innovative and to have lower need for achievement and autonomy than the latter group. Demographically they are fairly similar to traditional entrepreneurs, but are less well educated and experienced in business. Multilevel marketing participants explained their motivations in terms of lower entry costs and less time constraints; however, Kuntze found that they tended to believe strongly in the exaggerated and symbolic promotions of multilevel marketing organisations.
Two recent dissertations examine marketing channels, a sometimes-neglected area of research in marketing. Birud Sindhav's (2001), "A proactive model of communications in marketing channels" (University of Oklahoma) and Elizabeth Purinton's (2001), "The effects of the intensity of conflict and commitment on marketing channel partnership survival" (University of Rhode Island), emphasise the need for the proactive management of channel relationships. Sindhav's research provides a theoretical explanation of the role of communication in marketing channels, while Purinton's work revealed that channel partners' responses to conflict have a stronger impact on the survival of the partnership than the actual level of conflict. Specifically, channel partners need to be proactive in partnership management, encouraging collaboration and other vocal behaviours.
Klein's (2000) best selling No Logo, is one of the most influential "business" books of the past two years, spawning a renewed interest in consumer resistance in the media as well as in academia. Despite the heightened public awareness of anti-globalisation, anti-capitalist and boycotting campaigns, there is still relatively little research that examines whether consumers actually change their buying behaviour when they consider that a company has engaged in unethical practices. Wanda R. Ingram's (2001) dissertation, "Consumers' evaluation of unethical marketing behaviors: the role of customer organizational commitment" (University of Kentucky), addresses this issue. While consumers who are highly committed to an organisation will tend to exonerate their perceived harmful behaviour, this propensity to forgive decreases with the perceived level of harm. Ingram found a positive relationship between consumer organisational commitment and ethical expectations which, in turn, influences the level of satisfaction with the organisation. Importantly, consumers' behavioural intentions are strongly related to this level of satisfaction, leading to the conclusion that consumers' evaluations of unethical behaviour do have an impact on the marketplace.
Finally, researchers in marketing strategy development will find David E. Albright's (2000) dissertation, "Market-oriented organisational learning and sensemaking: shared sensemaking disconnects within one marketing research firm's strategic dialogues" (University of Georgia), of interest, particularly in relation to the methodology employed. While qualitative research methods are employed in strategy research, ethnographic studies are somewhat less usual. Most of the methodological literature on ethnography in marketing has emerged from consumer research. Thus, a dissertation that provides considerable detail and justification for ethnographic research in the marketing strategy context will be useful to researchers who are considering employing this research strategy. Albright's research involved an 18-month ethnographic study in the corporate headquarters of a marketing research organisation.
Full details and abstracts for these dissertations can be obtained from the UMI ProQuest Digital Dissertations database, which can be located at http://wwwlib.umi.com/dissertations
ReferenceKlein, N. (2000), No Logo, Flamingo, London.