Redefining Marketing: Self-interest,
Altruism and Solidarity

Masters thesis accepted by the
Faculty of Commerce and Administration
Concordia Univesity
Montréal, Québec
copyright © Allen Gottheil, October 1996

The Abstract of my thesis, the Table of Contents and the Introduction to my thesis are reproduced below. If you would like a copy of my entire thesis, I will gladly e-mail a copy to you.

Please e-mail me your request at: Allen Gottheil: allengottheil@sympatico.ca


Abstract

Exchange is argued to be a flawed foundation upon which to build a definition of marketing. Homo economicus is rejected, while altruism and solidarity are affirmed to be highly significant motivations in understanding and influencing the behaviour of target publics in certain nonbusiness marketing situations. Hence, a new definition of marketing based on behaviour change is proposed. Contemporary research on altruism and solidarity is reviewed. Some marketing issues are considered in a trade union context in order to illustrate how altruism, solidarity and a new definition of marketing may better describe, explain, predict and control relevant marketing phenomena.



Table of Contents

[1] INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  1

[2] THE CONVENTIONAL VIEW OF SELF-INTEREST,
EXCHANGE AND THE MARKETING CONCEPT . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6
     2.1  The Realm of Early Marketing Practice. . . . . . . .  6
     2.2  Broadening the Concept of Marketing. . . . . . . . .  9
     2.3  Self-Interest. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
          2.3.1  Adam Smith and Neoclassical Economics . . . . 14
          2.3.2  Philosophy, Political Science and Psychology. 17
          2.3.3  Marketing and Self-Interest . . . . . . . . . 19
     2.4  Exchange . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
          2.4.1  Economic and Social Exchange. . . . . . . . . 22
          2.4.2  Richard Bagozzi and Marketing Exchange. . . . 28
     2.5  The Marketing Concept. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

[3] SOME MAINSTREAM CRITICISM
OF CONVENTIONAL MARKETING THOUGHT. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
     3.1  Ideological Role of Exchange and the 
          Marketing Concept. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
     3.2  Needs, Wants, Desires, Preferences and Demand. . . . 44
     3.3  A Preliminary Appraisal of Exchange Theory in          
          Marketing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53
     3.4  The Marketing Concept Revisited. . . . . . . . . . . 59

[4] FURTHER REFLECTIONS ON EXCHANGE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
     4.1  The Vital Link Between Exchange and Self-Interest. . 66
     4.2  Exchange, Private Property and Public Goods. . . . . 70
     4.3  Broadening the Concept of Exchange . . . . . . . . . 74
     4.4  Mental States and the Exchange of Psychic and Social    
          Entities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82
     4.5  The Exchange of Ideas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
     4.6  Exchange in For-profit and Nonprofit Contexts. . . . 94
     4.7  A Recapitulation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .101

[5] LAYING THE FOUNDATION FOR AN ALTERNATE FRAMEWORK . . . . .104
     5.1  Broadening and Cost-Benefit Analysis . . . . . . . .104
     5.2  One-Way Versus Bilateral Transfer. . . . . . . . . .108
     5.3  Some Examples and Counterexamples Regarding the        
          Intersection of Marketing and Exchange . . . . . . .112
     5.4  Revision or Rejection. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116

[6] THE CASE FOR ALTRUISM. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123
     6.1  Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123
     6.2  Defining Altruism and Egoism . . . . . . . . . . . .126
     6.3  The Egoistic Explanation of Altruism . . . . . . . .134
     6.4  Empathy, Ethical Concerns and a Desire for Justice .139
     6.5  C. Daniel Batson's Reply to the Altruism Question. .146
     6.6  Further Empirical Support. . . . . . . . . . . . . .152

[7] FREE-RIDERS ALL? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .164
     7.1  Are Altruism and Egoism a Complete Set?. . . . . . .164
     7.2  Mancur Olson Jr. and The Logic of Collective Action.170
     7.3  The Case for Solidarity-Cooperation. . . . . . . . .176

[8] A QUID PRO QUO FOR ALL, ALL FOR A QUID PRO QUO?. . . . . .180
     8.1  Marketing's Assessment of Altruistic Motivation. . .180
     8.2  Extrinsic Incentives and Altruism. . . . . . . . . .184
     8.3  Misreading, Masking and Resisting Altruistic          
          Motivations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .191
     8.4  Altruism and Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .193

[9] BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE: A NEW DEFINITION . . . . . . . . . . .197
     9.1  Is It Necessary to Redefine Marketing? . . . . . . .197
     9.2  From Ex-change to Behavioural Change . . . . . . . .200
     9.3  A Detailed Explanation of A New Definition . . . . .203
          9.3.1  The Planned Attempt . . . . . . . . . . . . .204
          9.3.2  By An Organization. . . . . . . . . . . . . .207
          9.3.3  To Cause a Designated Behaviour to Occur
                 or Not to Occur . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .211
          9.3.4  Non-captive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .215
          9.3.5  Target Public . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .219
          9.3.6  Coercion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .221
     9.4  Spheres of Activity Excluded by Our New Definition .224
     9.5  A Final Word On Our New Definition . . . . . . . . .228

[10] MARKETING, ALTRUISM AND SOLIDARITY
IN A TRADE UNION CONTEXT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .231
     10.1  Self-Indulgence and Magnanimity . . . . . . . . . .231
     10.2  On the Necessity of Coercion in Trade Unions. . . .235
     10.3  Why Join a Union? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .241
     10.4  A Marketer's Perspective on Organizing New Unions .248
     10.5  Why Participate in a Union? . . . . . . . . . . . .253
     10.6  Why Fight the Union's Fight?. . . . . . . . . . . .256
     10.7  Other Commonweal and Mutual Benefit Associations. .259

[11] CONCLUSION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .262

BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .264


[1] Introduction

A quarter of a century ago, Philip Kotler and Sidney J. Levy suggested that the marketing concept could and should be broadened to apply to the activities of nonbusiness organizations. [Kotler and Levy 1969a] Today, marketing has been so widely embraced by the so-called nonprofit sector of the economy that marketing practitioners move just as easily between the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, as within each of them.

Coinciding with Kotler and Levy's initiative, and certainly somewhat because of it, the debate concerning how to precisely define marketing intensified. This in turn prompted renewed attempts to establish a theory of marketing.

Although it is impossible to speak of a consensus in the marketing community, there is no doubt that the concept of exchange is widely held to be the cornerstone of the study of marketing.

To speak of exchange in a marketing context inevitably brings to mind Richard P. Bagozzi's prolific writings on the subject. [Bagozzi 1974a, 1974b, 1975a, 1975b, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1985] He no doubt concurred with the Board of Directors of the American Marketing Association when, in March [1985], they approved the following definition of marketing:

Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational objectives. [p. 1]

But the exchange framework as developed by Bagozzi, and essentially endorsed by Kotler and the AMA, has not been without its critics. [Blair 1977, Capon and Mauser 1982, Carman 1973, Carman 1980, Ferrell and Ferrell 1977, Ferrell and Perrachione 1980, Firat 1985a, O'Shaughnessy and Ryan 1979, Rados 1981]

Although we agree with much of the aforementioned criticism, we shall attempt to establish a further significant objection to the centrality of the exchange concept to marketing. We shall argue that implicit in the concept of exchange, as elaborated by Bagozzi, is the assumption of Man, the rational self-interested utility maximizer.

Now, if indeed the assumption of self-interested Man is a valid one to make, most of the criticisms referred to above will still stand, but the practical implications for marketing practice may not be that far-reaching. However, if the assumption of self-interested Man is incomplete, which is certainly the case in our judgement, then the practical implications in many nonbusiness marketing situations may be extremely important.

Two closely related subjects that manifestly subvert the self-interested Man assumption will thus be examined in this paper. First, we shall look at some recent research and ideas on altruism and prosocial behaviour, particularly in the field of social psychology. Secondly, we shall survey some of the contemporary work on free-riding, solidarity, cooperation and social dilemmas in the fields of economics and political science.

Unfortunately, judging from what is published in mainstream marketing journals, the substantial work on altruism and free-riding that has been undertaken in our sister social sciences seems to have had little or no impact on marketing thought. Indeed, if this thesis merely stimulates an interest in contemplating the relevance of these two issues to marketing, we will consider that we have at least partially accomplished our goal.

Despite the preceding modest ambition, we shall try to go beyond simply scanning the altruism and free-riding issues and arguing their relevance to marketing theory. Since we are convinced that the self-interested Man assumption is an incomplete view of Man, we will argue that the exchange framework can at times be counterproductive in describing, explaining, predicting and controlling events in certain marketing contexts. We will thus propose a redefinition of marketing that will encompass genuine marketing exchange, as well as what we shall simply call non-exchange marketing situations. Furthermore, our new definition will exclude market exchange relationships that do not currently retain the interest of marketers and most probably never will.

Our proposed definition of marketing is as follows:

Marketing is the planned attempt by an organization to cause a designated behaviour to occur or not to occur in a non- captive target public, without any actual or potential resort to coercion by the organization.

Despite the fact that social marketing and marketing for nonprofit organizations are today widely-accepted phenomena, many difficulties in the adaptation of marketing to specific milieux have been described in the literature. The repudiation of exchange and a clear focus on behaviour change may not immediately solve any of the above-mentioned problems, but we would argue that searching for the right answers to the wrong questions is not in anyone's interest.

Armed with this new definition, and taking altruism and solidarity into account, we plan to examine some marketing issues in a trade union context in order to illustrate how being freed from the exchange framework can better describe, explain, predict and control the relevant marketing phenomena. Finally, we will briefly enumerate other areas where a similar liberation from the exchange paradigm might help to better describe, explain, predict and control marketing phenomena.


If you would like a copy of my entire thesis, please e-mail me your request at: Allen Gottheil: allengottheil@sympatico.ca


Please continue reading on about Marketing and boycotts, as well as union organization or membership participation campaigns; or Allen Gottheil's detailed explanation of marketing's relevancy to unions, his answers to some  FAQ's; and union clients in the marketing domain, other union clients; and finally his work experience and education, or return to the introduction on the first page.

If you have any comments, suggestions, brickbats or bouquets ...
Or, If your union organization is planning a major campaign ...
Please do drop a line to: Allen Gottheil: allengottheil@sympatico.ca

copyright © Allen Gottheil, 1999
Montreal, Canada
Tel: (514) 481-7270