‘Our Marketing is Our Goodness’: Earnest Marketing in Dissenting Organizations

Journal of Business Ethics 164 (4):731-744 (2020)
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In times of erosion and dissolution of social structures and institutions, described by Bauman as the interregnum, there arises both a need and a possibility of developing alternative approaches to the most fundamental organizational practices. Marketing, a simultaneously tremendously successful and much criticized sub-discipline and practice, is a prime candidate for such a redefinition. Potential prefigurations of future processes of organizing and institutionalizing can be found within dissenting organizations, the alternative organizations built at the fringes of, and in opposition to, the mainstream businesses as reported by Parker et al.. In this paper, we present an exploration of the alternative yet already enacted practice we call earnest marketing. Drawing on an ethnographic study of a number of dissenting organizations in the United Kingdom and Poland, we focus on the radical reconstitution of marketing evidenced in their practice, defined by an attitude of earnestness and dedication to the dissemination and demonstration of their self-defined goodness: ideas and values. As organizations engage in earnest marketing, they also become receptive to reciprocal messages from their environments. We conclude by reflecting on the possibilities of a dissenting management model developing the principles of earnest marketing beyond disciplinary confines.



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