In Search of Marketing Management

Peter Lenney, 2006

This empirical study attempts to craft a richer description, and deeper understanding, of the work of managers in marketing than that elaborated in the managerial work literature and within the marketing management discourse. Perspectives on both the character of the ‘content’ and ‘conduct’ of marketing manager work are sought. Several marketing managers, operating in diverse commercial contexts, were interviewed and observed. The field research deployed an array of longitudinal methodologies including programmes of diary-stimulated interviews, work shadowing, participant self-observation, and action research.

A description of managerial work is developed that rests at an ‘ontic level’ between that of classical / ‘Fayolian’ management theory and the conceptualisations generated through the empirical study of managerial work. The developed model characterises the ‘substance’ of managerial conduct as the ‘shaping and sustaining of commitments’. The model, based on a metaphorical temporal rope, elaborates the various interweaving strands and threads of what is argued to be the quintessence of managerial behaviour, the forms and characteristics of organizational commitments, the character of their crafting and conducing, and the properties of the so-emerged commitment webs.

The ‘content’ of the subject managers’ work is elaborated through the concept of endeavour portfolios, and the inherently political, weak- situation / wicked-problem character of their endeavours is illuminated. The ‘rhetorical technology’ of the marketing discourse is found to permeate the content of the subject managers’ endeavours, and provide adequate labels for the strands and threads of their endeavours. However, outside of their use in the staging of truth effects, the processual prescriptions of the marketing discourse are not evident in their daily work. The marketing management discourse is found not to speak to the milieu, or substance of the subject managers marketing management. This ‘substance’ rests in their pursuit of innovative reconciliations for the complex of contradictions that confronts them.