There is myriad research that explores the nature of marketing generally, and more specifically within SME (small to medium sized enterprise) contexts. Most of this research, however, focuses upon orthodox and relational marketing. Recently, it has also been argued that the literature fails to pay adequate attention to the role that critical studies might take in helping to understand marketing. Moreover, qualitative approaches to researching SME marketing have recently gained favour. This thesis takes the opportunity to employ a qualitative approach to researching SME marketing while at the same time exploring the implications for education, training and development (ETD). This research explored how the subjective individual can make sense of particular social arenas. Adopting a social constructivist approach involving the researcher and participants, this research offers some clarity to the SME marketing ETD context. To illuminate new ways of seeing, this research looked to both SME and ETD participants to be part of a study located in the North East of England. The study employed a semi-structured interview that, when transcribed, provided research texts that were then analysed through a Discourse Analysis lens. This allowed discourses to emerge from the texts that illuminated aspects of marketing in a SME context, as well as aspects of ETD. It is clear from the research that the extant nature of orthodox marketing’s central model, known as the 4Ps, is for the SME participants obvious and in the background. For the ETD participants this model is still central to how they see marketing ETD for SMEs in their role as educators, trainers and developers. However both SME and ETD perspectives include relational components, particularly networking. Critical components, in the light of Critical Theory and the turbulent business environment, can also be seen in the discourses of this thesis. The standpoints that the participants of this study combine, adapt, juxtapose or shape to fit conditions to their everyday lives, were exposed. The research texts contain metaphoric and other references that negotiate key tensions leading to confrontation and resistance to the dominant orthodox marketing form. This thesis explores the ways that participants use marketing-related discourse to inscribe their behaviours in a complex ideological system, immersed in social worlds. Marketing realities are found to be more critical than at first assumed. A schema is developed that portrays the relationships between these actors and this social arena. I therefore assess themes that emerge from the narratives of participants and within each theme discourses are used to describe participants’ world views. This thesis provides a new way of seeing marketing and develops the relational, orthodox and critical (ROC) schema of SME marketing, applied to ETD. This schema informs thinking on a range of issues such as flows of information, relationships, network coordination and specific competencies. The schema should be considered carefully before the design and delivery of any form of SME marketing ETD programme and any materials are devised. The findings of this thesis suggest that the ROC schema is potentially applicable to other marketing contexts.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 26 Feb 2008|