Purpose, Strategy and Activism: An Exploratory Inquiry into the Strategic Construct of Purpose-driven Brands within For-Profit Corporations

Brendel, Dominik (2019) Purpose, Strategy and Activism: An Exploratory Inquiry into the Strategic Construct of Purpose-driven Brands within For-Profit Corporations. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire. doi:10.46289/BUSG1496

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The concept of purpose-driven brands has drawn increasing attention in practice, and also increasingly among academia. The literature, in the substantive area of research on marketing, brand and corporate strategy acknowledges the existence and importance of a higher-order purpose for organizations. However, the body of knowledge lacks explanations and definitions concerning the construction of such higher-order purpose. Furthermore, there is ambiguity concerning the position and role of such a purpose within the overall normative, strategic framework of a firm. In addition, the managers’ motivation to apply such a strategy in practice is overall not evident. Therefore, this research aims to develop a substantive theory concerning the construct of purpose-driven brands and their role in normative strategy frameworks and to explore further the motivations behind managers’ adoption of such a strategy. The researcher adopts a critical realist’s stance and applies a classic grounded theory (CGT) methodology. As the data collection method, 42 semi-structured interviews were conducted with managers who were selected applying CGT’s theoretical sampling strategy. The participating managers work in marketing and strategic leadership positions at US and European for-profit corporations that claim to apply a purpose-driven brand strategy. The sample covers consumer goods, industrial goods and service industries. The application of CGT’s coding paradigm guides the analysis of the qualitative data and the abstraction towards the emergent grounded theory. The theory is then triangulated with practitioners’ literature from within the substantive area of research. The study’s findings provide evidence that the conceptual idea of higher-order purpose is based on the managers’ conviction that businesses, as social entities, should pro-actively contribute to society’s challenges at large through their business initiatives, beyond a financial contribution to its shareholders. The emergent CGT of the purpose-driven brand embeds the constituting tenets and elements and their interdependencies and relationships around the core category of Activism, though higher-order purpose. The findings suggest that the constitution of the purpose-driven brand is dependent on a firm’s corporate purpose and foundationally related to the guiding principles and strategies of an organization, which are codified through the implementation of a normative strategic framework. The emergent theory is embedded adjunct to brand strategy theory and discussed with reference to extant theory from within the substantive area of research. This thesis contributes a theoretical model, grounded in data, to close the gap in theory and practice regarding the construct of the purpose-driven brand and its place within the overall normative framework of a firm.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Warr, Richardrwarr@glos.ac.ukhttps://www.glos.ac.uk/staff/profile/richard-warr/
Uncontrolled Keywords: Purpose-driven brands; Corporate marketing strategy; Grounded theory
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD58 Organizational behavior, change and effectiveness. Corporate culture
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD60 Social responsibility in business
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 18 May 2021 13:11
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 11:03
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/9701

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