INTRODUCTION The theory of the marketing firm is an interpretation of operant and economic principles applied to create an explanation of firm marketing behaviour. With its critical origins (Baum 1994) and application to consumer behaviour (Foxall et al. 2007; Foxall 2009, 2010), operant theory has much to contribute to our understanding of the nature and behaviour of the firm.1 An operant inquiry into the essence of firms is equivalent to an inquiry into their behaviour as behaviour is environmentally influenced, i.e., shaped by the consequences of corporate action that increase or decrease the rate of emission of such behaviour in future. Yet, as firms are dependent on several forms of relationships, their behaviour and its consequences must be understood by examining these firm↔stakeholder (especially supplier↔consumer and competitor) relationships. In other words, a proper account of firm behaviour requires looking at (a) how both firms and consumers behave in their context-dependent inter-relationships and (b) how this behaviour affects rivals. The theory of the marketing firm locates firm behaviour within markets characterised by vigorous competition vying for the attention of a large number of consumers who have a discrete amount of disposable income and by minimal government intervention (Foxall 1999a). THE THREE–TERM CONTINGENCY Behaviour, the sole focus of inquiry, is environmentally determined (Baum 1994). An individual operates on her environment producing reinforcing and/or punishing consequences which respectively increase or decrease the rate of future emission of that behaviour. Economic behaviour is concurrently reinforced and punished (Foxall 1990) – when an...
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