The Marketing Firm
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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.
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Chapter 4: Specification and Interpretation

Kevin J. Vella and Gordon Foxall


INTRODUCTION Operant methodology requires the use of the three-term contingency (SD: R→Sr/p) as a framework of analysis. The BPM extends this framework to account for the complexities in natural behaviour settings. In the BPM, discriminative and motivational stimuli, as primed by the consumer’s learning history, relate to the scope of the setting and Sr/p to the patterns of utilitarian and informational reinforcement. Antecedent scope stimuli are programmed to qualify the setting, whereas outcome or consequential stimuli are similarly programmed to signal reinforcement. These stimuli are designed to encourage approach and/or discourage avoidance (Foxall 1990, 1999a). The analysis of firm behaviour based on the BPM, therefore, requires the setting to be analysed to identify (a) antecedent scope stimuli that appear to channel approach/avoidance behaviour and (b) consequential stimuli that appear to signal the outcomes of the same behaviour. First, each antecedent scope stimulus, in the form of a marketing cue, is categorised according to the typical effect it appears to have been designed by marketers to produce on the setting scope (relatively open to relatively closed) according to the customer/supplier behaviour to be encouraged/discouraged.1 Secondly, marketers appear to manage consequential stimuli in the behaviour setting to signal the positive consequences to be gained by customers from approaching them as well as the negative outcomes to be incurred for any avoidance. To show how this is done entails an examination of how each consequential stimulus, in the form of a marketing cue, appears to be managed by marketers to signal the...

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