Marketing, morality, and the natural environment
This thesis is a study of morality in marketing, focusing specifically on marketing in relation to the natural environment, i.e. green marketing. An interdisciplinary approach is adopted, incorporating a broad range of literature pertaining to issues of morality in marketing. The contribution of this literature is analysed, and the green marketing literature is assessed according to the moral perspectives applied. The need for greater insight into the development and communication of moral meanings in the marketing process is thus identified, and an organization culture perspective is articulated by which to effect this in the context of green marketing. This cultural perspective is then used as the basis for the exploratory, empirical research which forms the core of the thesis. Utilising an interpretive, comparative case study approach, and following a grounded theory methodology, data is presented to illustrate the content and process of green marketing strategies and tactics in three types of organizations - conventional, social mission, and business-NGO collaboration. The moral tone of these projects is examined and the cultural dynamics which attend the greening process are explored in order to reveal the moral meanings subsequently communicated and legitimised within and around the case organizations. Consequently, a picture of contemporary green marketing practice grounded in empirical data is developed, and the theoretical implications discussed. Moreover, the proposition is advanced that there is a tendency in corporations for green marketing to be accompanied by a process of 'amoralization', i.e. a removal of moral meaning and significance for the natural environment. Specific actor roles and processes of amoralization are set out, and potential explanations advanced. The implications and wider ramifications of these findings are discussed, and the possibilities for introducing greater moral consciousness and feeling into marketing are discussed. Finally, some management implications and directions for further research are considered.