Towards an Expanded Understanding of Exchange in Marketing

Damien McLoughlin, 2001

It is regularly suggested within marketing that the central concept is that of exchange. Despite this pre-eminent position, the understanding that marketing academics have of exchange is regarded as poorly researched and weakly conceptualised. This thesis sets out to contribute to resolving these issues. The main tool in doing this is an analytical framework developed from an extensive review of the literature on exchange in marketing and other disciplines. Employing a Critical Realist ontology, the analytical framework is applied to a LETS system in the West of Ireland. LETS or Local Exchange Trading Systems are independent exchange systems that use a local rather than a national currency to facilitate exchange. The system studied was widely regarded as the most successful in Ireland, this was its attraction as a research site. The case study begins with a description of the research site. It then employs quantitative measures to describe the exchange activity and dyadic profile of the system concerned. An extensive set of qualitative results are then used to explain the behaviour described in the preceding chapters, at the level of the individual actor and the market. The thesis reveals a complex view of exchange and a Critical Realist approach to understanding exchange with potential for application in a wide range of situations.