Marketing as an Interaction System

Marketing thinkers identify concepts of relationship, interaction, and network as useful. Edgar Crane (1972) saw interaction as essential to buyer-seller decision-making. David Ford, Kristian Möller, and Håkan Håkansson followed with explanations of how marketing operates. Christian Grönroos expanded the horizon with ‘interactive marketing’. Evert Gummesson saw interaction as “active contact” and all marketing as relationships and interaction in networks. The Relationship Marketing field flourished – at least for a time. Whilst many proponents of “interactive communication” and “social interaction” do not see the interaction concept as problematic, they focus attention on practices. I choose to re-examine both ‘interaction’ and ‘communication’, and to relate these concepts to the concepts of society and the social process we call “marketing”. The discussion proceeds from the general perspective of humans living among others, to the specific situation of marketing in society. I examine the concept of ‘interaction’, and consider social interaction as exchange –a dialogical view of human communication. The patterning of social interaction in markets as distinct from bureaucracies, solidarity groupings, and co-operative collectives is examined. An alternative sociological analysis of the social is compared with that of the social psychology tradition. Communication is discussed as a mode of interaction, to reveal monologic (technical) and dialogic (humanitarian) conceptions of communication prevalent in the marketing field. Within the context of an ‘Interaction Society’, marketing is explained as a complex dynamic adaptive interaction system, revealing a conversational nature. It is proposed that interaction directs and co-ordinates, but also co-creates – ‘interactional work’ has innovative capacity.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Varey, R. J. (2008). Marketing as an Interaction System. Australasian Marketing Journal (AMJ), 16(1), 79-94.