A multi-stakeholder perspective on sustainable marketing: Promoting sustainability through action and research

Tutkimustuotokset: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaArtikkelikokoelma


Sustainable marketing research has made great efforts in exploring ways to integrate customers’ social and environmental concerns into marketing strategy. Although recent developments in the field of stakeholder marketing have contributed to its shift from being customer-oriented to having a broader stakeholder orientation, sustainable marketing continues to be grounded in the basic premises of the marketing concept. In this study, I argue that this new theoretical development has not successfully addressed the two primary limitations of sustainable marketing: namely, its highly reductionist
and rational nature. While the former is demonstrated by the belief that sustainability can be both studied and approached from the perspective of individual firms and consumers, the latter is evident in the excessive reliance of sustainable marketing on technical, scientific and managerial expertise to address environmental and social issues. Although several studies have drawn attention to these limitations, few studies have offered alternative approaches to sustainable marketing.

In this dissertation, I work towards a theoretical and methodological framework that uses sustainable marketing as a threshold concept to critically evaluate and question the assumptions embedded in both marketing theory and professional practice. Accordingly, I theoretically draw upon relational social constructionism, cultural marketing and critical marketing studies and methodologically on action research. In particular, the multi-stakeholder perspective on sustainable marketing I outline in this dissertation emerges from a link established between the theoretical premises of stakeholder marketing, the relational perspective on stakeholder theory and the market approach to marketing. The framework is illustrated by empirical findings from
two action research studies: one focussing on sustainable tourism product development in a small business context and the other focussing on the use of problem-based learning to promote sustainability learning among Masters-level business students.

This dissertation makes several contributions. It offers a more comprehensive understanding of sustainable marketing by shifting the analytical focus to (1) the market as a complex web of stakeholder relationships and interactions and (2) sustainability as a set of meanings and moral values that are socially constructed through the discourses and practices available within a particular market context. By theorising sustainability as a social construction, this dissertation contributes to considering sustainability as a cultural meaning that is continuously redefined through complex and dynamic multi-stakeholder relations and to developing a forward-looking understanding of an environmentally enlightened and socially responsible marketing approach. The latter effect is achieved by promoting awareness of the realities of a specific market and encouraging (future) business professionals to challenge those realities and the basic assumptions, discourses and practices that shape
them. This dissertation is divided in two parts: Part I (Summary) and Part II (Articles). Part I discusses the theoretical and methodological premises, empirical context and research contributions of this study; Part II includes five articles that have been published in peer-reviewed academic publications.
Myöntävä instituutio
  • Valtonen, Anu, Ohjaaja
  • Moisander, Johanna, Ohjaaja, Ulkoinen henkilö
Painoksen ISBN978-952-484-610-3
Sähköinen ISBN978-952-484-611-0
TilaJulkaistu - 2013
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG5 Väitöskirja (artikkeli)


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