Scholars have investigated the role of marketing in impoverished contexts for decades. A historical review of this literature from World War Two onward identified four key themes: a persistent rhetoric regarding the need for transformation of impoverished contexts; an ongoing lack of investigation of available resources in such contexts; a general consensus that markets therein are inefficient; and an ongoing debate regarding the role of local intermediaries in these contexts. These interrelated themes give rise to the key research questions of the dissertation which are explored across three papers. The first paper explores the potential effects of a transformation recommendation in impoverished contexts. Through identifying and discussing the important resource of community knowledge, this propositional-based paper delineates both the social harm and the benefits that can occur if companies appropriate this resource. It also provides a theoretical framework to guide marketers in their transformation activities. The second paper explores a foundational concept in marketing, that of efficiency, in relation to understudied available resources in impoverished contexts – conceptualized as capitals. It provides a more appropriate goal of efficiency, that of well-being efficiency, and creates an Integrated Capitals Framework, while examining the implications of the relationships between these capitals for marketing and development. The third paper of this dissertation, using an inductive approach, investigates the role of traditional intermediaries in impoverished contexts. The author conducted interviews with small-scale intermediaries and collected observational-based data in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. The findings indicate that these small-scale intermediaries, through pooling, meshing, and mobilizing, contribute to the resilience and well-being of their system, with implications for resilience theory and for the transformation recommendation of disintermediation. Across the three papers, the dissertation furthers marketing scholarship within important theoretical areas. It joins the growing number of critiques regarding approaches to marketing and development through challenging existing assumptions aimed at transforming impoverished contexts by calling for and contributing to a marketing systems perspective towards improving well-being. It also provides insights for practitioners and policymakers who engage in these contexts.
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Thesis advisor: Francis, June
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