An investigation into marketing relationships in a London Borough.

May, John Stewart (2003) An investigation into marketing relationships in a London Borough. PhD thesis, Middlesex University.

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Abstract

The primary aim of the thesis was to investigate the theoretical implications of extending relationship marketing to a sector where it had not previously been applied, namely local government in England. The secondary research aim was to investigate the nature of relationships between service providers and service users in the context of a London Borough, with a view to making recommendations on appropriate marketing strategies for different local government services. The research design was based upon a review of elements of the academic literature on relationships, relationship marketing, and local government. The review led to the identification of a new way of describing marketing relationships, namely the 'model' of a relationship. Eight such models were identified in the literature and seven were used in the data collection phase of the study. An embedded case study approach was used to collect and analyse the data, with the London Borough of Barnet acting as the overall case, and three different services provided by the Borough Council serving as the embedded cases. The three services, chosen to reflect the wide range of different activities carried out by a London Borough, were Libraries, Environmental Health and Benefits. Within each of the three embedded cases there were two quantitative, self-completion surveys - one for the service providers and one for the service users. The surveys were used to obtain numerical scores for each of the seven relationship models. The study presents the relationship model scores for the six surveys and shows how they form a picture of the relationships between the providers of a particular service and the users of that service. In particular it is shown that while users do not perceive any relationship between themselves and the service providers, the providers do perceive a relationship - described by either the Taken for Granted relationship model (providers in both the Environmental Health and the Benefits services) or the Weak Ties model (Library service providers). The main finding of the study in respect of the primary research aim is that while there are no theoretical objections to extending relationship marketing into local government, in practice attempts to do so are unlikely to succeed because the service provider/service user relationships involved in the local government contexts examined in this study are typified by levels of interpersonal interaction which are too low to permit the creation and maintenance of viable relationships. The study also notes that the inappropriateness of one form of marketing does not rule out all other forms of marketing in local government, and in particular the concept of marketing Taken for Granted services is discussed in the context of the secondary research aim. One of the characteristics of this type of service is a degree of dissociation in the service user's mind between the service itself and the organisation supplying it. A set of recommended strategies for marketing this kind of service, adapted for local government from the literature of Taken for Granted marketing, is put forward. The marketing implications of the other relationship models are also briefly discussed. The limitations of this thesis are outlined in the conclusion and some avenues for future. research are suggested, including investigation of the possibility that the providers of Taken for Granted services might feel taken for granted, not just by their service users but also by their own employers.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

Thesis submitted in part fulfilment of Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Research Areas:Middlesex University Schools and Centres > Business School > Leadership, Work and Organisations
Masters and Doctorates > Theses
ID Code:6557
Deposited On:27 Sep 2010 15:50
Last Modified:22 Jul 2014 05:38

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