Recent Submissions

  • Lipkin, Michaela (Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan, 2020-08-17)
    As megatrends shape our society and markets, the business landscape is also changing fast. Technological innovations, demographic movements and the rise of the individual are disrupting the ways in which businesses offer service, but also how customers serve themselves. Whereas traditional service provision primarily occurred in the firm’s environment on the firm’s terms, today’s customers often select and experience offerings in their own ecosystems beyond the firm’s visibility and control. For firms to be competitive and research to be relevant, it has never been as important to understand what goes on in this customer ecosystem, and how it shapes the customer’s experiences with offerings. Even though marketers and researchers increasingly acknowledge the importance of the customer and her context, most studies have focused on exploring how firms create customer experiences during isolated touch points, or how customers co-create experiences in service ecosystems. This thesis argues that such studies only marginally reflect issues related to customers in their own settings. Instead of focusing on the firm’s actions or service interactions, we should study how customers involve providers in their own ecosystems. This customer-dominant lens expands the view of the customer and helps to illuminate what goes on beyond the firm yet plays a key role in how offerings resonate with customers. This thesis aims to identify how customers’ ecosystems shape customers’ experiences with smart self-service. The thesis includes three studies utilizing various methods and qualitative data from a smart self-service context. The collective findings reveal how the customer’s ecosystem plays a key role in shaping her experiences with smart self-service, through its actors and actor constellations. The first study identifies and clarifies different individual-level perspectives and contextual lenses on customer experience formation. The sense-making-based perspective and customer-ecosystem lens emerge as especially suited to generate a deeper understanding of experiences in customers’ ecosystems. The second study conceptualizes and illustrates empirically how actors within and beyond the focal offering – in various constellations – shape customer experiences. The third study introduces a smart self-service typology and classification. This thesis contributes to the service and marketing literature by conceptualizing the elements of customer experience formation, customer ecosystems and customer self-service devices. Managers should aim to locate, monitor and join the customer’s life to better understand how experiences emerge in the customer ecosystem. Such insights can be used to predict long-term customer behavior and design offerings that become embedded in customers’ lives.
  • Sarvikivi, Marja-Leena (Hanken Svenska handelshögskolan, 2020-03-27)
    Tryckt reklam har studerats såväl inom marknadsföring som lingvistik. Studierna har gällt bl.a. annonsinnehåll, kommunikationsstrategier, annonsernas effekt eller effektivitet, stilistiska element, metaforer och retorik, humor och kulturella frågor. Också interaktionen mellan det textuella och det visuella har studerats. Avsikten med denna studie är att överbygga den klyfta jag upplevt existera mellan lingvistiska studier av annonser och studier av reklam som en del av marknadsföring och därmed uttryck för marknadsföringstänkande. I studien granskas elementen i annonserna som uttryck för ett mera omfattande fenomen, utvecklingen av marknadsföringstänkandet. I ljuset av varuhuset Stockmanns tidningsannonser från ett sekel, 1902 (1900) – 2002, då tryckt reklam varit dominerande, har jag utforskat och belyst utvecklingen av marknadsföringstänkande och reklam i Finland. Materialet består av annonser med början från den tid marknadsföringsdisciplinen av de flesta forskare anses ha existerat. Studien har tre teoretiska referensramar: skolbildning inom marknadsföring, definition av marknadsföring samt reklamens basformat, vilka härletts från en innehållsmässig periodisering av marknadsföring och reklam. Metoderna i studien är innehållsanalys och periodisering. Analysen gäller annonserade produkter, vädjan för dem, det visuella samt relationen mellan det textuella och det visuella. Studien avser annonsinnehållet, vad annonserna är, inte vad annonserna gör, dvs. deras effekt eller effektivitet. I studien kan avläsas marknadsföringstänkandets utveckling från dominerande produkt- och nyttofokus mot kundfokus. Under 1900-talets första decennier annonseras framför allt nyttoprodukter och annonserna består av produktuppräkning. Vädjan är textuell, rationell och informerande. Småningom går vädjan över från textuell till textuell och visuell. Det visuella blir dominerande och texten verkar som stöd till det visuella under de sista studerade decennierna. Med avseende på annonserade produkter och karaktären av vädjan är 1950-talet och 1970-talet brytningspunkter. I början på 1950-talet blir annonser för fritidsartiklar frekventa, kosmetikannonser vanligare och vädjan upptar personifiering av varor. I annonserna från 1970-talet avspeglas den spirande ungdomskulturen, kosmetik annonseras frekvent, och det visuella får en dominerande roll i vädjan. Under de sista studerade decennierna upptar vädjan särskilt inom kosmetik, livsmedel och hälsoprodukter individuellt välbefinnande och njutning, självförverkligande eller självtransformation. Tjänsterna utvecklas från tjänster med produkten i fokus mot tjänster med fokus på kundens individuella önskemål och tjänster av upplevelsekaraktär. Studien fyller ett angeläget empiriskt behov. Den innehållsmässiga periodiseringen av elementen i annonserna reflekterar marknadsföringstänkandet under ett sekel i Finland. Studien bidrar till insikten om produkternas förändrade roll för konsumenterna och dess beaktande i marknadsföringstänkandet. I studien sammanbinds praxis och teori, språkliga och visuella uttryck i reklamen som uttryck för marknadsföringstänkandet. Utöver till kunskap om marknadsföringstänkandets och reklamens utveckling i Finland bidrar studien till kunskap om varuhuset Stockmanns utveckling samt om utvecklingen av Stockmanns tidningsannonsering under hela den tid tryckta medier dominerat i reklamen.
  • Dube, Apramey (Hanken School of Economics, 2020-03-20)
    Smartphone apps have become the new universal language through which customers interact with service providers. We are in an app economy in which most everyday service experiences are mediated through apps. The devices that started this revolution, smartphones, have become deeply embedded in the lives of customers with little restrictions on time and place regarding their use. If a reader today pauses to check his or her mobile phone, it is likely to be a smartphone filled with various apps, some of which are used many times daily, whereas others are never used. Never before has technology facilitated such a close and widely varied availability of service to customers, regardless of time and place. However, extant research remains highly influenced by traditional restraints of time and place in service provision. Specifically, a gap exists in investigating service experiences with an empirical service context that offers wide flexibility of time and space. To address this research gap, this thesis presents an evolved conceptualisation of service experience derived from customer use of smartphone apps. Apps are conceptualised as service platforms without any time and space constraints and their ubiquitous presence in customers’ everyday lives helps to illustrate the role of the everyday life in influencing service experiences. The research design employed for this thesis comprised of three studies. In the pilot study, respondents were asked to write auto-narratives of their service experience with a particular smartphone app (BBC World News app). In the main study, 23 semi-structured narrative interviews were conducted in which respondents narrated their service experience with multiple apps in their everyday lives. In addition, a third source of empirical data included collection and analysis of app store descriptions of smartphone apps that respondents experienced. The findings of this research contribute in expanding the prevailing understanding of service experience. They show that customers’ service experiences include both direct use experiences (that require direct app use), as well as indirect use experiences (that do not require direct app use). Furthermore, customers have service experiences that were intended or unintended by service providers and several unintended experiences are hidden from them. These four types of service experiences form combinations that differ from each other in exhibiting different app download, use and deletion behaviour. The indirect and unintended components of service experiences highlight an underutilised and scarcely investigated part of holistic service experiences. Although originating from app use, these findings are also applicable to newer service platforms that provide flexibility of time and place and ubiquitous ease-of-use. Therefore, the thesis recommends that service providers must keep in mind the potential indirect and unintended service experiences that customers may have with their service platforms.
  • Lindeman, Sara (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2018-01-19)
    This thesis studies early-phase market organizing. Contrary to dominant views of markets as neutral backgrounds to economic activity, in this work markets are understood as socio-material systems that are shaped by the actors involved in the organizing process. In affluent settings, such as Europe, market organizing processes have been going on for centuries. To ethnographically study the very early phases of market organizing, the empirical work is performed in subsistence settings, i.e. resource-constrained areas currently served by the informal economy. The empirical data were collected in informal urban settlements and remote rural areas in Tanzania, Brazil, Ethiopia and India. The purpose of this thesis is to study early-phase market organizing in subsistence settings and its implications on capabilities for achieving well-being. Based on the capability approach, the thesis takes a holistic and multi-level approach to well-being. An improved understanding of early-phase market organizing processes, studied in settings not strictly conditioned by the path taken in affluent economies, can open up possibilities to see and encourage alternative and more sustainable ways of market organizing. The research shows that market organizing begins when an augmented discussion starts around trade exchanges. This discussion includes creating rules and norms to discipline exchanges as well as ways of representing the exchanges. Values guide this discussion, and participating in it requires that actors engage in new practices and often also that they form new organizational entities. In addition, early phase market organizing is characterized by a mobilization of various resources that improve market actors’ abilities to act in and shape markets. In the empirical cases, intermediary organizations, such as local NGO’s, were instrumental in empowering subsistence communities so that they could actively take part in the market organizing process. The dominant debate suggests that individuals will benefit from markets by getting employment and access to improved products and services. However, this thesis shows that when local communities organize themselves and are empowered to actively participate in the market organizing process, this results in market arrangements that better deliver capabilities for achieving well-being.
  • Vuoristo, Lotta (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2017-10-17)
    This thesis focuses on customer relationships, a topical issue in contemporary marketing. Contrary to many earlier studies, this study approaches customer relationships from the consumer’s subjective point of view. This perspective is often overlooked in marketing. Yet in order to advance knowledge of customer relationships, an understanding of the subjectivity of motivations is essential. The discoveries are based on an in-depth study of consumers and their customer relationships. A novel combination of the grounded theory method and ethnomethodology was developed in order to conduct the analyses. The theoretical contribution of the thesis is presented in three steps. First, building on self-based theories, a map of multiple selves is constructed. Second, drawing on self-congruity theory, the self-relationship (S-R) congruence concept is introduced. This concept serves to explicate the complex ways in which customer relationships are connected to consumers’ lives and to clarify how subjective meanings and motivation emerge. Third, the thesis develops a process view of how consumers make sense of the many customer relationships they have. The research reveals that it is possible to be a customer, and to have a customer relationship, without being in a customer relationship. In other words, a customer relationship can be meaningful to a consumer without reciprocity. A customer relationship can even remain relevant to the consumer after the company no longer exists. These discoveries are inconsistent with what current customer relationship theories prescribe. Overall, the thesis illuminates several aspects of customer relationships that existing theories have thus far neglected. The conclusions not only contribute to theory development in the customer relationship field, but also have implications for companies that wish to improve relationships with their customers.
  • Solja, Eeva (Svenska Handelshögskolan, 2017-09-15)
    Stories are characteristic of humans. They have been embedded in our social and cultural environments in various forms throughout civilizations. Stories come naturally to us because we think in terms of stories and use them to communicate everyday events. Stories reflect the structure in which we make sense of, comprehend, and organize our experiences. Compelling stories persuade, entertain, and engage their audiences. It is therefore not surprising that marketers have become keen to capitalize on the persuasive effects of stories. Indeed, marketers frequently tell brand stories in multiple contexts with the aim to involve and persuade consumers. However, many questions on the effect of stories on consumers in commercial contexts remain. Research shows that companies can purposefully relate stories to brands to elicit positive brand responses. Stories help individuals interpret the meanings of brands and create a bond between a brand and a consumer. Brand stories are told, for instance, on packaging, in promotions, on web sites, in social media, and on price tags. While the influential nature of stories as such has been widely acknowledged and verified in advertising research, many theoretically and managerially relevant issues remain unexplored. Previous studies have looked at stories in print and TV ads, while packaging and price promotions have been overlooked. Packaging and price promotions are key marketing tactics, which differ from ads in several respects, such as the framing and length of the message. This dissertation examines consumer responses to different types of brand stories on packaging, in advertising, and in price promotion messages. Brand stories are examined in terms of short, emotional and mental simulation brand stories. The dissertation reports on six experiments in three separate studies. It offers significant contributions to storytelling, packaging, and pricing literature, as well as to business practice. The findings demonstrate that brand stories on packaging and in price promotions can influence several significant consumer responses positively. The dissertation also shows that the storytelling context acts as a boundary condition to the effectiveness of different types of brand stories. Hence, brand stories should be tailored according to context to reach maximal effectiveness. (The original essays are included only in the printed version.)
  • Laamanen, Mikko (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2017-02-01)
    The politics of value creation outlined in this dissertation challenges core assumptions of current value creation literature and particularly its service-dominant logic branch. Politics of value creation illustrates the weight that people individually and collectively give to an object or an issue; the social construction of meaning and valuation, its conventions and institutions; the authority afforded through these, and the struggle between different groups to maintain and change the above. This study engages current theory with an alternative conceptual framework and an unorthodox empirical setting. Sociological theories of collective action and strategic action fields are in conceptual dialogue with value-creating actors, their relationships and interaction, practices and outcomes. The collective–conflictual value creation theory developed in this study acknowledges systems of domination and skewedness of power in value creating contexts. The approach builds on the bearing that dominant ideologies are a product of a particular social order and interests that result in a conflict between incumbents and challengers, and have consequences to the wider environment. Rather than marginal and consequential, conflict is not only endemic, but causative when value-creating interactions are based on varying understandings and logics. The empirical study engaged the organised labour in Finland with critical ethnography examining societal macro-relations of the labour market institutions, meso-dynamics of the labour movement, and micro-practices in a trade union organisation. The politics of value creation is, on one hand, a critical analysis of current theory, and on the other, an exploratory study illustrating strategic collective action in value creation. With the collective–conflictual approach, value creation contexts are recast as porous arenas where various interactions, practice and outcomes constantly develop in collaboration and competition illustrating the permanence of dynamic tensions that instigate jockeying, using social skill in framing, and practicing ideologies and politics in an attempt to create and arbitrate value.
  • Medberg, Gustav (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2016-04-18)
    In recent years, value has become a central topic of marketing research and business practice and is now considered to be a foundation of all effective marketing activity. Value, however, is also one of the most debated and challenging concepts in contemporary marketing theory. The elusive nature of value has contributed to the difficulty for marketing researchers to define the concept. Several streams of value research exist within marketing literature, contributing to the fluid conceptualizations of value. The definition of value adopted by the recent service perspective on marketing theory is value as value-in-use. A fundamental principle of value-in-use is that value is always created and determined during use of products and services. But what is value-in-use, really? This thesis set out to explore what it means for customers in service contexts. Surprisingly little attention has been given in prior service marketing research to the question of how customers understand and interpret value-in-use. Such knowledge is essential for future research about value-in-use as well as for generating customer-centric marketing insights based on a service perspective on marketing theory. The aim of this study was to address this gap and further our understanding of value-in-use from the service customer’s point of view. To achieve the purpose of the thesis, the Value Chart Technique (VCT) was created. The VCT is a research method that captures customers’ perceptions of positive and negative value-in-use throughout service episodes. The method utilizes a graphical tool called the Value chart to track how value-in-use evolves. The VCT’s unique set of features makes it particularly suited for studying value-in-use as a dynamic phenomenon. For the empirical study, 26 informants were recruited, and they shared a total of 53 positive and negative bank service stories, which were analyzed using the VCT. The findings of the study show not only how value-in-use evolves positively and negatively over time, but also that customers understand and interpret value-in-use in service episodes as features of the service process, the outcome of the service, and economic features of the service, i.e., functional, technical, and economic service quality. Hence, this thesis contributes to service marketing theory by demonstrating that service quality and value-in-use in service episodes represent the same empirical phenomenon, despite their different theoretical traditions. As the findings indicate that service quality is the way in which customers understand and interpret value-in-use in service contexts, service managers are recommended to focus on continuous quality management as a way to facilitate the creation of value-in-use.
  • Virtanen, Henrik (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2015-04-23)
    Att samarbeta med en konkurrent i den internationella verksamheten kan vara ett alternativ för små- och medelstora företag. Parterna stöter på hinder i den internationella verksamheten, vilket ger motiv till samarbete. Det finns olika typer av samarbete mellan konkurrenter. Fokus i denna avhandling är att skilja på vilken eller vilka funktioner i företaget samarbetet omfattar. Parterna kan samarbeta kring gemensamma funktioner (integrerat samarbete) eller kring delade funktioner (sekventiellt samarbete). Förekomsten av olika typer av samarbete, indikerar att man kan anta att samarbetet styrs av den strategiska situation parterna befinner sig i. I samarbetet råder det en spänning mellan samarbete och konkurrens. Man samarbetar för att skapa värde, medan man konkurrerar för att utnyttja värdet. Ett samarbete kan medföra konkurrensfördelar, men samtidigt kan spänningen mellan samarbete och konkurrens skapa problem och risker. Forskningen kring samarbetande konkurrenter har varit mindre omfattande. En kunskapsutveckling är önskvärd. Syftet med denna avhandling är att analysera samarbeten mellan konkurrerande små- och medelstora företag, med avsikten att utveckla den teoretiska och empiriska förståelsen av samarbeten, samt samarbetsmotiven och -förutsättningarna i en internationell kontext. En målsättning är att besvara frågan varför parterna väljer att samarbeta antingen integrerat eller sekventiellt. Ytterligare är målsättningen att klargöra hur parterna hanterar spänningen mellan samarbete och konkurrens, samt utreda vilka problem och risker som finns i samarbetet. Den empiriska delen av avhandlingen utgörs av en kvantitativ kartläggning samt fyra fallstudier. Resultaten visar att indelningen av samarbetstyper inte är helt klar. Man kan identifiera rena integrerade samarbeten, man kan identifiera rena sekventiella samarbeten, samt man kan identifiera hybrider av dessa två, där det finns både integrerade och sekventiella funktioner i samarbetet. En funktion i företagets produktionskedja består av olika aktiviteter som kräver olika insats av resurser och kompetenser. Trots att man samarbetar inom samma funktion (per definition integrerat samarbete), kan man dela aktiviteterna mellan parterna i funktionen (sekventiell logik). Eftersom tanken att dela in samarbeten i två typer är oklar, är det även problematiskt att normativt kunna påvisa klara skillnader mellan dessa vad gäller t.ex. motiv och risker. Varje samarbete är unikt. Ett sätt att mildra spänningen mellan samarbete och konkurrens och riskerna parterna upplever i samarbetet är att separera samarbets- och konkurrensfunktionerna från varandra. I intensiva och betydande samarbeten tenderar parterna, speciellt om det är frågan om små- och medelstora företag, att avveckla den direkta konkurrensen genom att t.ex. specialisera sig på olika kunder och nischer (produkter) eller fokusera på olika marknader. Parterna kan definiera när man har rollen som konkurrent och när som samarbetspartner. Personliga relationer, förtroende, gemensamma normer och förfaringssätt förmildrar spänningen och motverkar parternas intentioner att handla opportunistiskt.
  • Kedzior, Richard (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-09-05)
    Changes in consumption related to digital technologies, digitization and the emergence of new media have been topics of great interest to both academics and managers. The backbone of all these changes, the Internet has penetrated consumers’ daily lives and changed the way they work, shop and socialize. The new digital spaces (e.g., social networking sites, massively multiplayer online games, or online virtual worlds) have become important conduits for sociality and consumption as evidenced by the time and money consumers spend online. Yet, frequently the social, cultural and economic significance of digital worlds has been dismissed due to their “immaterial” character. The evidence discussed in this volume demonstrates that consumers experience digital worlds as material, yet materiality in this instance transcends the conventional notions of tangibility and physicality. Thus, this study introduces the concept of digital materiality to more accurately describe the phenomenon of materiality in digital environments, and focuses on the ways in which it emerges in digital worlds. To this end, presented here conceptual framework maps out five distinct processes through which digital worlds become material to their consumers. Each of these processes is driven by a set of consumer motivations which correspond to consumer perceptions of digital materiality. Apart from the theoretical and conceptual contributions to academic literature, this research offers a number of managerial implications which can benefit professionals working with digital media. The ideas discussed here may be especially valuable for public policy makers and product managers struggling with the inherent instability of digital materiality. Some of the insights can also cast light on ways in which businesses could expand their market offering by complementing existing product lines with either digital or physical components. This interdisciplinary work is positioned within Consumer Culture Theory and Digital Consumption Studies, and draws on the extant literature in consumer research, cultural studies, anthropology, and human-computer interaction. Richard Kedzior is an Assistant Professor of Markets, Innovation and Design at the School of Management, Bucknell University. He is a consumer researcher who studies phenomena at the intersection of technology and culture.
  • Huotari, Kai (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-08-15)
    In his dissertation, Kai Huotari studied how customer-to-customer (C2C) communication becomes a part of service experience. Using grounded theory, Huotari investigated TV live-tweeting – i.e., people reading and writing Twitter messages about a TV program while viewing it. He interviewed 45 live-tweeters and analyzed more than 4,000 tweets in the U.S. during 2011–12. The study identified four distinct groups of users live-tweeting about TV programs (fanatic TV live-tweeters, systematic TV live-tweeters, sporadic TV live-tweeters, and active Twitter users) and four main categories of TV live-tweets (courtesy tweets, outlet tweets, selection tweets, and analysis tweets); described several TV live-tweeting practices, from preparation practices to reading and writing live-tweets and including certain use of Twitter functions; and revealed that a TV live-tweeter is an empowered TV viewer who can, by experientializing live-tweeting into his or her TV viewing, personalize and control his or her TV viewing experience better than before, can express him- or herself more fully, and can reach a large enough audience and acceptance for his or her ideas. Experientializing is the core concept that emerged from the study. It refers to the consumer integrating two activities with each other in a way that leads to new practices of consumption and to a transformed and empowering experience. The study develops a substantive theory of experientializing live-tweeting into the TV viewing experience. Huotari suggests that the concept can, however, be used also in other contexts and presents two abstractions of the theory: experientializing C2C communication into a consumption experience and experientializing a customer activity into a service experience. The associated tentative models can be used to explain, for example, museum visitors’ willingness to go to museums in groups or how reading on public transportation changes the experience of commuting. The study brings new insight to television studies, especially for the ongoing discussion of the so-called “second screen.” The study repositions the research on C2C communication: it investigates C2C communication as a part of consumption experience instead of considering it only as communication about consumption experience. In addition, the study suggests new ways to categorize C2C communication. For marketing in general, it introduces the concept of experientializing as a customer driven process wherein service providers have only limited visibility. The media industry can take advantage of the empirical part of the study. At the same time, the theoretical contributions of the study have broader applicability and, accordingly, can be made use of in various industries.
  • Liewendahl, Helena (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-08-07)
    Motivation is a popular notion in today’s worklife. Employees, in particular those who work in traditional customer service, should be motivated to care for their customers. Service literature assumes that managers are able to order subjectivity towards employees and see to it that employees are motivated. This study deviates from this viewpoint by adopting a humanistic and systemic stance. It sees motivation as an intrinsic process, and employees as active subjects in worklife as well as owners of their motivation. It takes an employee perspective as it sets out to explore their motivation to live up to value promises. Value promises is another topical concept. Currently, companies promise all kinds of things that should enhance customers’ value formation. Often these promises deviate from what actually occurs in service encounters, and psychological contracts such as value, brand and service promises are broken. Currently employees do, despite the increase of e-services, have a substantial role in delivering promises. The more complex and abstract the promise is, such as “the best service”, the more is required of employees to live up to it. The more emotion work embedded in the promise, the more important motivation for living up to it becomes. Taking value practices, i.e., service encounters and firm internal practices underpinning these as its locus, this study explored employees’ experiences by identifying issues that employees found having an impact on their work in customer interface, and thus influencing their motivation. A number of demotivating as well as motivating factors were identified: Too abstract marketing ideas and fuzzy promises, as well as a paternalistic and objectifying stance towards employees do impinge motivation negatively. Truthful authentic promises that reflect value practices as they are, and employees having agency to participate not only in delivering, but also in enabling and giving promises, to name a few, were found to have a positive impact on motivation. By noting these factors, this study strives to widen our understanding of the mechanisms that underpin employee motivation in a service context. The thesis suggests a Human Service Logic (HSL) as a new paradigmatic perspective to service research, parallel to the other current prevailing service logics. As central to employee motivation, the HSL emphasises social- and service competences. Drawing upon the three promises framework a promise integration (PI) model is suggested. The PI model introduces a new perspective on the TPF model; reordering, reorienting, and reframing it from promise management, governed mainly by managerial control, norms, and procedure, to a dynamic promise-living perspective, directed by human principles and co-active managing of value practices. The HSL framework, and its PI model, describes an employee discourse on motivation in a service context.
  • Díaz Ruiz, Carlos A (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-08-05)
    From street activists to corporate managers, a rising debate is questioning whether markets can be reimagined to meet environmental, social and corporate goals. However, one problem to advance the debate is that markets are often evoked but not investigated; in other words, pundits rely on representations of what a market is and how it works often lacking correspondence with actual markets. Subsequently, the dynamics in the correspondence between representation and markets constitute an important and topical gap of knowledge whose investigation can be fruitful to restructure how markets and society interact. At the core of this dissertation is the concept of market representations where complex social reality is simplified into coherent, yet incomplete views of how markets work either now or in the future. Market representations are important because of their capacity to enable and constrain a repertoire of actions for acting in markets. As such, market representations are conceptualized to be “in action” - following the performativity turn in marketing literature – by investigating how the world of ideas has effects in the real world. Therefore, by providing conceptual foundations and empirical evidence, this dissertation demonstrates that representational practices are part and parcel of acting in markets. The dissertation is composed by four essays spanning a wide range of methods: literature review, a qualitative in-depth analysis, quantitative testing and content analysis. Essay one focuses on the assumptions mobilized about markets in literature originating in marketing and economic sociology. Findings reveal that commonly held beliefs about markets- such as competition, profit maximization, the centrality of exchange and the existence of supply and demand - are assumptions that are not featured in every market. Essay two mobilizes in-depth methods to investigate how commercial market researchers put together representations for their clients. The study tracks how market researchers select and privilege representational objects to create unique representations for their clients to act. Essay three presents quantitative evidence suggesting that market representations can constrain and enable a repertoire of managerial actions. In the context of business marketing, the study demonstrates that the form how the market is understood can have an effect on the actions that managers find relevant and appropriate. Essay four investigates how market research reports are assembled. By analyzing how market representations are assembled, the study explains how market researchers move back and forth between a concern to be accurate and a concern to be actionable. Overall, this dissertation contributes to the subfields of market studies and consumer culture theory in marketing by providing the conceptual foundations and empirical evidence for representations. The debate on the interaction of markets and society is enriched by understanding how assumptions about markets correspond to repertoires of actions.
  • Hellman, Pia (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-06-04)
    The starting point of this research was the increasing popularity of companies introducing e-services because of the expected increase in efficiency. However, the introduction of an e-service does not automatically lead to usage. Research shows that even when consumers say that they prefer to have their transactions handled by digital channels, the adoption rate of e-services is lower than what the company has expected. This study set out to investigate if marketing communication through e-mail could increase e-service adoption rates. There is clearly a lack of understanding of what drives consumers to use e-services. Generally, there are monetary benefits for the company when consumers switch to online services. For the consumers, however, the benefits are not necessarily evident. In order to build positive consumer perceptions of the e-service benefits and increase e-service adoption, the firms need to communicate the benefits to consumers. This thesis investigates if communicating e-service benefits to consumers can increase e-service adoption. Based on a conceptual framework of e-service benefits and e-service communication, the effect of communicating e-service benefits through e-mail in a b-to-c environment was measured. Three studies were conducted, of which the main study was a field experiment. An experimental design was applied to new customers of a telecom service provider. Three benefits were measured: time savings, easy to use, and access to information. The adoption was measured as the web traffic, including e-mail click-through-rates and login rates to the e-service. The effect of each e-service benefit used alone, in pairs or in a combination of all three benefits was measured. The effect of repeat actions was also tested. The findings from the experiment revealed that there were differences between the effects of the treatments on different behaviors in the adoption process. However, this research failed to provide strong evidence supporting a positive effect of e-mail communication on e-service adoption. Nevertheless, the results suggest that companies should carefully investigate which benefits consumers are seeking and how to communicate the benefits during the stages of the consumer adoption process. The study shows that consumers’ interest in and perception of e-service benefits can vary during the different stages of the e-service adoption process.
  • Kiehelä, Hanna (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-05-19)
    Consumers’ product assessments are largely based on colour, and a product’s colour can increase consumer satisfaction, awareness and loyalty. However, existing colour research is fragmented and calls for theoretically-enhanced understandings of the role of colour in consumer product perception. The existing colour research mainly focuses on consumers’ immediate reactions when exposed to colours although studies show that consumers evaluate products differently in purchase and in use. Therefore, to fully understand how consumers are affected by colour, it is insufficient to study instant reactions. Existing colour studies often explore colour in general, without a product context, although the influence of colour on consumers needs an interpretative significance. Thus, colour perception cannot be examined independently of the determined object. This thesis analysed how consumers perceive the value of colour in relation to products. This has not been extensively examined before although consumers have been found to relate colour to the perceived value of products. Studying the perceived value of product colour allowed this thesis to widen the time scope from consumers’ immediate reactions to using products in everyday life. Two studies were conducted on how consumers perceived the value of product colour by empirically studying the objects of cars and mobile phones. The first study, based on 39 interviews, resulted in an inductive conceptualisation of how consumers perceived the value of colour in relation to products. This study has several important findings: Consumers perceive the value of product colour on three value dimensions – experiential, symbolic and functional; In each dimension, there is a consumer perceived colour preference scale which consists of desirable, tolerable and unacceptable colours; The colour preference scales of the three value dimensions may sometimes clash when consumers prefer different colours in each value dimension, which leads them to make trade-offs between the dimensions; Additionally, an unacceptable colour in any dimension may lead consumers to decide against making a purchase. The second study – an online study with 655 respondents – corroborated this conceptualisation. This thesis contributes to existing research on perceived value and colour by demonstrating that product colour is an important but neglected aspect of perceived value, by illustrating the dimensionality of the perceived value of product colour and by proposing trade-offs between the value dimensions – a currently understudied area. The recommendation is for companies to acknowledge the dimensionality of the perceived value of product colour. This would enable manufacturers to better evaluate how consumers perceive new product colours, and retailers to provide customers with better service expertise and assistance, thus likely increasing purchase intentions and customer satisfaction.
  • Mickelsson, Jakob (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2014-04-29)
    Due to changes in technology, customers are increasingly empowered in their interactions with companies. Information is readily available, and customers can choose, learn and contribute in ways previously unimaginable. Even though marketers have acknowledged the importance of understanding the customer as an active participant in service, there have been few efforts to systematically understand and illustrate the customer’s structures of activity. Customer activity has within marketing traditionally been viewed as a response to inputs from the provider. Advertising, for example, is seen as having a persuasive function: It should result in the customer’s activity of buying. Similarly, in service research, the customer’s activities are considered to be either directed by service design or as inputs into an interaction process. This thesis presents an alternative view on customer activity: It is a perspective on service use. In contrast to earlier perspectives, the customer activity perspective incorporates service as an enabling or supporting element in the customer’s activities. The thesis defines ‘customer activity’ as a discrete sequence of behaviour that through its outcomes aims at creating or supporting some type of value in the customer’s life or business. This definition enables new types of analysis. By identifying many separate customer activities, service providers can uncover interlinked systems of activity. Customer activities are connected to each other through, for example, frequency links, functional links, resource links, temporal links, cognitive links or geographical links. The role of service is to enable customer activity and serve as an ingredient in the customer’s interlinked systems of activity. Consequently, the thesis takes a customer-dominant stance on service. Customers are seen as controlling and combining the services of different providers with each other to serve their own ends. Customer activity is presented as a focal concept for understanding this process. Moreover, customer activity is viewed as more than simply interactions with a service provider or inputs into realizing a particular service. Rather, activities are elements that customers use to organize their own lives. The thesis contains empirical examinations of the relationship between customer activity and service. These show that customers maintain different types of activity systems, and that the same service can play different roles in the life of the customer. Service providers can use this information as input for service design, communication and customer segmentation.
  • Nyman, Henrich (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2013-12-18)
    To twist an old saying into ‘service logic’, one could express the ongoing paradigm shift in service marketing as – ‘service is not as usual, anymore’. This thesis argues for adopting service logic on profitability and, thus, for studying ‘service’ (singular) profitability as a divergent concept from ‘services’ (plural) profitability. For the uninitiated into the recent theoretical development within service marketing, the concepts of service and services might at a first glance appear indistinguishable. However, there is more to the concept of service in contrast to services and, hence, to the rationale for conceptualising service profitability as distinct from services profitability, than just omitting the letter -s from the word ‘service’. An increasingly growing body of the service marketing literature challenges the traditional services paradigm, in which services have been characterised as different from goods by four distinguishing ‘IHIP’ characteristics: ‘intangibility’, ‘heterogeneity’, ‘inseparability’ and ‘perishability’. The definitions of the IHIP characteristics are found to be too narrow and outdated as generic service characteristics. What is more, the ‘IHIP’ characteristics are not universally applicable to all services during all stages of the service process and fail to set apart services from goods in general. Most severely, the ‘IHIP’ characteristics are still based on the same goods- or manufacturing-centred logic that they are claimed to differ from. In contrast to services (plural) as a distinct category of market offerings, the contemporary perspectives on service (singular) represent various ways of thinking and, thus, logics or mental models on value creation from the customer’s point of view, founded on ‘value in use’. However, in emphasising value creation from the customers’ perspective, the contemporary perspectives on service pay considerably less attention, if at all, to the financial value of service from the service provider’s perspective and, as a result, to service profitability. Purposely, this thesis adopts a provider perspective on service by conceptualising service as consisting of two distinct processes: the service sales process and the service provision process. Nevertheless, the customer perspective on these processes is imperative for the financial consequences of the service. From the customers’ perspective, the service sales process deals with value propositions, which indicates that service offerings are not the final result of an economic activity but should add value for customers. Moreover, from the customers’ perspective, the service provision process comprises value facilitation, i.e. the facilitation of the customers’ value-creation activities. Consequently, this thesis argues that the concept of service profitability could be characterised as the financial outcome of service sales and service provision, wherein the service provider’s facilitation and support of the customers’ value creation activities is paramount.
  • Holttinen, Heli (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2013-11-11)
    This thesis investigates consumer value creation as an everyday sociocultural and situational phenomenon. The first objective was to understand and conceptualize how cultural ideals and practices inform consumer everyday value creation. I examined empirically how consumers enact cultural ideals in mundane consumption in the empirical context of a weekday dinner practice among Finnish households. The second objective was to contextualize a value proposition concept in customers’ practices. The approach consisted of a theoretical investigation of how consumers experience and evaluate value propositions in their practices in order to draw theoretical implications. Integrating complementing knowledge from S-D logic, Consumer Culture Theory, and Practice Theory provided me insightful theoretical lenses for the examinations. The findings highlight the primacy of cultural ideals and practices in consumer everyday value creation and value co-creation. They inform the consumers regarding which value propositions are desirable and thereby guide resource integration and thus purchasing decisions. This thesis portrays consumers as pragmatic, flexible and fragmented value-creating agents. It demonstrates how the consumers enact and compromise cultural ideals and identity projects in relation to practices. They compromise identity projects and cultural ideals in some practice(s) but not across practices. As the practices serve different ends for the consumers at different times, the meaning of the practices is constantly re-created by consumers. As resource integrators the consumers accept and use value propositions in the practices in their own ways irrespective of firms’ intentions, in order to enact cultural ideals. Value becomes co-created only when the consumers (as customers) can enact cultural ideals by integrating firms’ offerings with their other resources - and as a result experience value. While this thesis illuminates the interplay among cultural ideals, practices, value propositions, and consumer action, it offers a cultural and practice-theoretical conceptualization of how consumers, material objects and a sociocultural environment interact and co-create each other at a certain time in history and in the consumers’ lives. The findings represent the value of an offering as a dynamic, context-dependent, intersubjective and subjective notion that is constantly co-created and re-created by customers. This thesis introduces firms a sociocultural and practice-theoretical approach for the new offering development process. It means perceiving and investigating customers’ lives and value-creating activities as a mosaic of practices in which the customers try to enact cultural ideals by integrating value propositions with their other resources. By contextualizing the value propositions in the customers’ practices, the thesis helps firms to improve the effectiveness of the new offering development process. Effectiveness here refers to the ability of the firms to create offerings that are both culturally and practically desirable for the customers. By addressing the cultural ideals and the practical realities of everyday life, effective offerings make it possible for the customers to enact the cultural ideals in their everyday lives.
  • Arantola-Hattab, Johanna (Hanken School of Economics, 2013-05-23)
    During the past decade value co-creation has been eagerly discussed in service marketing research. Despite the vigorous interest, the discussion has largely stayed on the theoretical level and perhaps led more to confusion than evolution. In business-to-consumer marketing the focus on investigating value has mainly been on the dyad of provider and customer; however the customer has remained an undefined unit in the interactions. This study argues a deeper investigation on co-creation is needed to clarify the value co-creation concept. The purpose of this research is to explore how a family as a customer experiences co-created service value. This study widens the investigation on co-creation beyond the visible interactions between the provider and a single person to cover often for the provider invisible interactions of different family members. The underpinning framework is the Nordic School’s customer-dominant logic (CDL). This study uses qualitative methodology as the approach to study the research topic. The research method applies ethnography to gain knowledge regarding how a specific group of people interacts with the environment. The empirical study consists of interviews and observations of working mothers who interpret their daily lives, responsibilities, and activities. Based on this background, they discuss their experiences and opinions about their banking service. The empirical study illustrates how mothers discuss their individual and family needs with a bank. Thus, this study widens the scope of a single person being a customer and presents the idea of a family as a customer unit. This study contributes to the current theoretical discussion on value co-creation by presenting a categorisation model for investigating different entities of service value co-creation. The model illustrates how experienced service value is a consequence of co-creation covering both visible and invisible interactions of a family. The study illustrates how service value is experienced by a family as a consequence of value co-creation not only in a dyadic interaction between the provider and an individual, but also in the multiple interactions within a family. The managerial contributions give guidance to companies regarding how to extend their understanding of a customer’s experienced service value and how to become better embedded in their customers’ everyday lives. An increased understanding of different entities of co-creation generates new knowledge regarding how companies can sustain valuable relationships with their customers. The findings illustrate it is essential for a bank as a service provider to shift the focus from dyadic interactions to cover also the multiple interactions within a family as a customer unit.
  • Viio, Paul (Svenska handelshögskolan, 2011-11-14)
    Although previous research has recognised adaptation as a central aspect in relationships, the adaptation of the sales process to the buying process has not been studied. Furthermore, the linking of relationship orientation as mindset with adaptation as a strategy and forming the means has not been elaborated upon in previous research. Adaptation in the context of relationships has mostly been studied in relationship marketing. In sales and sales management research, adaptation has been studied with reference to personal selling. This study focuses on adaptation of the sales process to strategically match it to the buyer’s mindset and buying process. The purpose of this study is to develop a framework for strategic adaptation of the seller’s sales process to match the buyer’s buying process in a business-to-business context to make sales processes more relationship oriented. In order to arrive at a holistic view of adaptation of the sales process during relationship initiation, both the seller and buyer are included in an extensive case analysed in the study. However, the selected perspective is primarily that of the seller, and the level focused on is that of the sales process. The epistemological perspective adopted is constructivism. The study is a qualitative one applying a retrospective case study, where the main sources of information are in-depth semi-structured interviews with key informants representing the counterparts at the seller and the buyer in the software development and telecommunications industries. The main theoretical contributions of this research involve targeting a new area in the crossroads of relationship marketing, sales and sales management, and buying and purchasing by studying adaptation in a business-to-business context from a new perspective. Primarily, this study contributes to research in sales and sales management with reference to relationship orientation and strategic sales process adaptation. This research fills three research gaps. Firstly, linking the relationship orientation mindset with adaptation as strategy. Secondly, extending adaptation in sales from adaptation in selling to strategic adaptation of the sales process. Thirdly, extending adaptation to include facilitation of adaptation. The approach applied in the study, systematic combining, is characterised by continuously moving back and forth between theory and empirical data. The framework that emerges, in which linking mindset with strategy with mindset and means forms a central aspect, includes three layers: purchasing portfolio, seller-buyer relationship orientation, and strategic sales process adaptation. Linking the three layers enables an analysis of where sales process adaptation can make a contribution. Furthermore, implications for managerial use are demonstrated, for example how sellers can avoid the ‘trap’ of ad-hoc adaptation. This includes involving the company, embracing the buyer’s purchasing portfolio, understanding the current position that the seller has in this portfolio, and possibly educating the buyer about advantages of adopting a relationship-oriented approach.

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