Strategic marketing evaluation for the social action organization : a formulative policy study

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Social activism and organized voluntarism are important dimensions of the American culture. Social action organizations,the embodiment of these values, often pursue expansive social missions while employing indeterminant techologies and meager resources. The management of these organizations is challenging. Marketing philosophy and practices potentially can help social action policy makers manage their organizations responsively and effectively. Social action organizations, however, appear to be characteristically different than business firms; thus, the concepts and technologies of traditional commercial marketing require constructive adaptation and reformulation within the operating contexts of the social action sector. The research objective of this dissertation was both exploratory and formulative. Concisely, it focused on: the operational formulation of an evaluative policy framework for facilitating the development and adoption of strategic marketing in social action organizations. The research methodology included: (1) extensive literature reviews and syntheses; and (2) an intensive field study of a social action organization. In the literature syntheses, the areas of social action administration, noncommercial marketing, strategic marketing philosophy and policy, and marketing auditing were constructively reviewed. Careful derivation of an operational strategic marketing audit framework was presented. The audit was conceptualized as a matrix interrelating fundamental strategic policy domains with the analytical processes of diagnosis, prognosis and recommendation. The strategic audit was operationalized for specific use in social action organizations. The field study involved a comprehensive formative and exploratory evaluation of a social action organization. The field site was the Voluntary Action Center of Houston and Harris County, Texas. The strategic marketing audit was used to design and structure the field study. Multiple methods of data collection were employed. These included participant observation, document and archive reviews, a policy survey of Board members, depth interviews with policy makers and relevant publics, and critical analysis of client records. The results of the study were presented in the format of a strategic marketing audit report. The field study was used to generate substantive insights into social action policy systems and to enrich the audit framework. The strategic marketing audit was demonstrated, in the study, to be a valuable framework for potentially raising marketing consciousness and precision in the social action sector. Based upon a careful analysis of the field study, the conceptual formulation of the audit was extended. Explicit attention was directed to structural elaboration of the matrix framework and to the process of managing an audit. A utilization role hierarchy was proposed to guide and explain the adoption dynamics of strategic market auditing as an innovative policy technology. While the viability and fundamental role of strategic marketing in the social action sector were elaborated in this study, considerable exploration and formulation are still required. Specific suggestions and priorities for future work were outlined. A framework for conceptualizing distinctive marketing contexts and dynamics was presented as a heuristic for orienting future research in the noncommercial sectors. This framework indicated the importance of studying the implications of substantive problems, technologies, structural patterns, and ideologies on marketing exchange system dynamics in an effort to improve strategic marketing theory and practice.

Marketing, Action research