The Marketing Firm

The Marketing Firm

Economic Psychology of Corporate Behaviour

Kevin J. Vella and Gordon Foxall

This book provides an expert analysis of the theory of the marketing firm by drawing upon operant psychology, economic theory and marketing to argue that all firms exist in order to market. The authors explore the nature of bilateral interdependence and suggest a framework to analyse the collaborative and competitive mutually reinforcing relationships within which the firm acts.

Chapter 6: Reflections on ‘The Marketing Firm’

Kevin J. Vella and Gordon Foxall

Subjects: business and management, marketing, research methods in business and management, economics and finance, economic psychology, industrial organisation, institutional economics, research methods, research methods in business and management


THE ANTECEDENTS PROPOSITION The preceding analysis shows that firms come under the control of several antecedent events. The formation of Wall’s Direct was also a clear example of attempts to close the setting directly through scope stimuli but also through consequential stimuli, providing support for Foxall’s (1997a) contention that managing reinforcement patterns does, at times, function in the same way as setting closure by channelling behaviour in a particular direction. Discriminative Stimuli and Motivating Operations A range of physical, regulatory, social and temporal antecedent stimuli were identified as residing in the actors’ managerial behaviour setting and were found to be controlling behaviour over two decades.1 These four dimensions of stimuli for consumer behaviour suggested by Foxall (1990, 1992a, 1992b, 1997a) provide an important framework within which to analyse antecedent events and their effects. Equally critical is the distinction in behaviourist literature (Michael 1982; Fagerstrøm et al. 2010) between discriminative stimuli and motivating operations. Towards the end of 1998, the undertakings agreed with BEW were a regulatory stimulus designed by the Commission to constrain BEW’s behaviour, thereby opening the behaviour setting. It appears that the Commission assumed that BEW, as it had done before, would comply with the undertakings. In addition, the Commission appears to have assumed that the ability to discriminate was the one strategy BEW sought to protect. By imposing punishment on BEW, the setting would be more open, as independent wholesalers, now unfettered by the aversive consequences the relativities in terms created, would be able to compete...

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