Dr Gillian HopkinsonSenior Lecturer
From my previous professional career I developed an interest in marketing channels - or routes to market - and in the relationships between suppliers, retailers and consumers. I have pursued these interests academically through a PhD that examined franchisor franchisee relationships in car retailing and subsequently in a variety of sectors, most especially the FMCG/grocery sector.
My initial conceptual interests in power, narrative and sensemaking in marketing channels lead me now to take a rather unconventional approach in my studies. I am particularly interested in how the multiple parties in the channel make sense of their world and how they communicate that to influence others. This in turn has led me to encompass a broader definition than that which would classically be defined as 'the marketing channel'. Actors such as government, the media and consumer groups can also be very active in making and negotiating sense and these actors can be very influential in shaping availability of and access to products. This approach seems particularly apposite with respect to the routes to market for food - and this lies at the centre of my recent and current work.
In recent projects I have examined markets and access to food around two 'controversies', the male dairy calf and sustainable fish. With both there is a confusion of ways of understanding and interpreting the issues. Both have been debated in public arenas such as the media. In both cases key actors involved in developing and asserting a way of understanding the issues have included celebrity chefs, activist groups, food producers, retailers and governments. Both demonstrate the effects of an emergent (if temporary and partial) consensus that is important in shaping the ways of working amongst food producers and retailers, the availability of particular foods in retail and our access to foods as consumers. This approach shares some common terrain with those from other disciplines who are exploring food systems, my distinctive marketing-based contribution lies in the particular attention I pay to the food industry and retail as important participants in broader sensemaking systems.
I would welcome approaches from organisations, researchers or prospective PhD students who share some of my interests in food controversies, food systems and food access. Important topics of the moment that share some characteristics I have mentioned above include (but are not limited to) questions of nutrition and especially sugar and also genetically modified foods.
As a brief guide to publications that will help elucidate my approach - my publication with Keith Blois in the International Journal of Management Reviews (2014) introduces the role of sensemaking and negotiation as overlooked aspects of power in marketing channels. Using the male dairy calf case, my paper in Industrial Marketing Management (2015) explains and illustrates how sensemaking and subsequent managerial action occurs through the interaction of multiple parties. The chapter in Untold Stories in Organizations (2015) takes a more longitudinal approach to show how 'the issue' with respect to male dairy calves has been defined and re-defined. Recent work with James Cronin in The Journal of Marketing Management (2015) explores changing access to sustainable fish, especially as this was defined through celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Fish Fight.
I have worked with several major companies, most especially through collaborative sector-wide groups. For example, research I undertook and reported to The Responsible Alcohol Sales Group fed into the development of a new inter-agency collaborative approach to reduce alcohol sales and harm amongst young people (Community Alcohol Partnerships).
As an undergraduate I studied history at the University of East Anglia. I think this has hugely influenced my current academic interests and particularly my social constructionist beliefs. The discipline at the time was moving towards a greater concern for the more marginal actors and away from a 'big man' explanation of history. Consequently this directed my attention to the multiple perspectives on any situation that drive diverse actions. History also reinforces the idea that nothing is perfectly knowable. Our understandings of all events are continuously revised both as new source material is found and in the light of contemporary concerns that direct us towards alternative explanations. Thus I am deeply suspicious of realist and positivist accounts of social life and I place great weight upon narrative forms of knowledge and upon multiple explanations.
Subsequently my ‘first career’ was in the tourist industry where I travelled extensively and also gained experience in both contracting. My primary role was building and managing relationships with suppliers (and to a lesser extent customers). This experience underpins my academic interest in marketing channels. It also allowed me to develop a passion for language - a feature which I draw on frequently in analysis.
My next move took me to Bradford where I completed an MBA and stayed to conduct doctoral research. Since completing my doctorate I have been on the faculty firstly at UMIST (now Manchester Business School) and now at Lancaster University Management School. I lecture primarily in areas of industrial/organisational marketing and channel management and also enjoy teaching related to research philosophies and methods.
229 - Routes to Market
Postgraduate (MSc in Advanced Marketing Management)
406 - Managing Marketing Channels
Deputy Head of Department, Marketing
International Teaching Partnerships Coordinator, Department of Marketing
BA (Hons) in Modern British History MBA PhD
Selected recent/current research projects
A study of cashiers’ perceptions and behaviours in young alcohol sales situations.
This work, conducted with Dr Michael Humphreys (Nottingham University Business School), generates an understanding of shop work from the perspective of cashiers in UK stores of diverse formats (superstore, convenience store, community store and off-licence). The work explores how cashiers manage the processes of requesting age identity and refusing alcohol sales to younger customers. It contextualises this aspect of cashier work more broadly within the cashiers’ perspectives on or constructions of shop work, of their organisational environments, and of their relationships with other agencies. The work was sponsored by and reported to the Retail Alcohol Standards Group and presented at the Home Office to a range of policy makers.
How do young consumers live their lives?
I addressed this question with Dr Terry Newholm (Manchester Business School) through a multi-method study that intensively tracked two small cohorts of young people (undergraduates and working graduates) over a period of about six weeks in each case. Our aim was to explore their lives in everyday and mundane aspects as well as the quirky, the exceptional and the (seemingly) contradictory aspects. An emphasis upon narrative allowed us to see how young people used these aspects to account for their lives and produce coherence and a sense of self. Of particular interest to me in the data was the construction of (auto) biography; and also the relationship between this (auto)biographical construction and their construction of career. The work was sponsored by and reported to the Manchester Retail Research Forum.
A narrative and discursive study of conflict in a franchised network.
In this study I developed ideas and extended theories about how organisation is constructed within the inter-organisational arena of a franchised network. Looking at one small car distribution network, where I was able to access participants at several levels and in both manufacturer and franchised dealership firms, I was able to relate particular versions of self constructed across the network to the presence (or absence) of tensions across the various organisations and to the actions through which members approach these tensions.
Institute for Advanced Studies Academic Board
"When people take action ...": mainstreaming malcontent and the role of the celebrity institutional entrepreneur
Hopkinson, G., Cronin, J. 10/2015 In: Journal of Marketing Management. 31, 13-14, p. 1383-1402. 19 p.
Network graffiti: interaction as sensemaking
Hopkinson, G. 07/2015 In: Industrial Marketing Management. 48, p. 79-88. 10 p.
How stories make it: antenarrative, graffiti and dead calves
Hopkinson, G. 2015 In: Untold stories in organisations. London : Routledge p. 285-317. 33 p.
Rejoinder to Hunt's "The bases of power approach to channel relationships"
Blois, K., Hopkinson, G. 2015 In: Journal of Marketing Management. 31, 7-8, p. 765-773. 9 p.
Power base research in marketing channels: a narrative review
Hopkinson, G., Bois, K. 04/2014 In: International Journal of Management Reviews. 16, 2, p. 131-149. 19 p.
The use and abuse of French and Raven in the channels literature
Blois, K., Hopkinson, G. 2013 In: Journal of Marketing Management. 29, 9-10, p. 1143-1162. 20 p.
Boundary work and identity construction in market exchanges
Ellis, N., Jack, G., Hopkinson, G.C., O'Reilly, D. 09/2010 In: Marketing Theory. 10, 3, p. 227-236. 10 p.
Identity challenge: constructing and sustaining a contested workplace self
Hopkinson, G.C., Humphreys, M. 2010 In: 9th International Conference of Organisational Discourse (Amsterdam) - 2010. N/A : unknown
Identity metaphors in Chinese inter-organizational relationships
Ou, J., Hopkinson, G.C. 2010 In: 9th International Conference of Organisational Discourse (Amsterdam) - 2010. N/A : unknown
The changing structure of distribution channels in Pakistan
Aman, A., Hopkinson, G.C. 2010 In: International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management. 38, 5, p. 341-359. 19 p.
I just tend to wear what I like: contemporary consumption and the paradoxical construction of individuality
Newholm, T., Hopkinson, G.C. 2009 In: Marketing Theory. 9, 4, p. 439-462. 24 p.
The construction of managerial knowledge in business networks: managers' theories about communication
Ellis, N., Hopkinson, G.C. 2009 In: Industrial Marketing Management. 39, 3, p. 413–424. 12 p.
Stories: how they are used and produced in market(ing) research
Hopkinson, G.C., Hogg, M.K. 2006 In: Handbook Of Qualitative Research Methods In Marketing. Cheltenham : Edward Elgar p. 156-174. 19 p. ISBN: 1845421000.
Teaching and learning about qualitative research in the social sciences: an experiential learning approach amongst marketing students
Hopkinson, G.C., Hogg, M.K. 2004 In: Journal of Further and Higher Education. 28, 3, p. 307-320. 14 p.
Stories from the front-line: how they construct the organisation
Hopkinson, G.C. 2003 In: Journal of Management Studies. 40, 8, p. 1943-1969. 27 p.
Valuing customer relationships: using the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) to incorporate relationship risk
Hopkinson, G.C., Lum, C.Y. 2002 In: Business Strategy and the Environment. 10, 3, p. 220-232. 13 p.
"What happened was ..." broadening the agenda for storied research
Hopkinson, G.C., Hogarth-Scott, S. 2001 In: Journal of Marketing Management. 17, 1, p. 27-48. 22 p.
Influence in marketing channels: a sense-making investigation
Hopkinson, G.C. 2001 In: Psychology and Marketing. 18, 5, p. 423-444. 22 p.
A factor analytic study of the sources of meaning in hedonic consumption
Hopkinson, G.C., Pujari, D. 1999 In: European Journal of Marketing. 33, 3, p. 273-290. 18 p.
Franchise relationship quality: micro-economic explanations
Hopkinson, G.C., Hogarth-Scott, S. 1999 In: European Journal of Marketing. 33, 9, p. 827-843. 17 p.
Exit, voice, loyalty: a supplier’s perspective
Jackson, K., Hopkinson, G., Jackson, J. , 30 p.
Problematizing the need for warm proximity:: a note on the interpretive potential and social interventionism of watching documentary film
Cronin, J., Hopkinson, G.