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Title: Playing with fire : an MNC's inability to translate its market logic in a culturally complex exchange setting in rural India
Author: Kay, Ethan Jeremy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 3640
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation describes the manner by which a multinational corporation (MNC) enacts a market-based logic with a locally embedded partner in a complex and unfamiliar operating setting to fulfil both business and social objectives. It examines a hybrid partnership between BP, an MNC, and SSP, a rural Indian non-governmental organisation (NGO). Together, the organisations trained rural women, who were affiliated with SSP, as agents to distribute and sell BP’s ‘smokeless’ cookstoves and fuel pellets to households who cook on smoky firewood stoves. The research draws on two theories—neo-institutional organizational theory and real markets theory—to examine the process by which logics are aligned across partners and projected and translated into the rural Indian exchange setting. It constructs a four-actor model (MNC, NGO, agent, customer) to explore the exchange relationships between the actors at the meso- and micro-levels. At the meso-level, it explains how the MNC and NGO’s non-aligned logics, asymmetric power dynamics, and lack of mutual trust contribute to the venture’s failure. In addition, the NGO was so determined to succeed as a professional, market-driven, channel partner that it shed part of its identity as a civil advocacy organisation and adopted mainstream commercial practices that were not sensitive to the needs of its local stakeholders. At the micro-level, the partners did not come to a common understanding with the agents regarding the cultural challenges they faced marketing the stove. Moreover, the marketing strategy glossed over the multi-layered social relationships and culinary, behavioural, and religious practices that needed to be translated for the technology to meet the needs of consumers. Using gritty ethnographic data, the dissertation highlights a challenge that large, foreign companies face when entering ‘Base of the Pyramid’ markets, namely the inconsistency between the MNC’s market logic and the wider associational logics that motivate village agents and customers.
Supervisor: Harriss-White, Barbara; Nicholls, Alex; Loveridge, Ray Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Business and Management ; Business ; International business ; Management ; Political economy of markets and states ; International and macro-economic development ; Development economics ; Microeconomics ; Economics ; Gender ; Households ; Social cleavages ; Women ; Social anthropology ; base of the pyramid ; market-based poverty alleviation ; neo-institutional theory ; clean cookstoves ; last mile distribution ; women's empowerment ; social entrepreneurship ; private sector ; behaviour change ; corporate partnerships ; social structures ; rural India ; glocalization ; economic development