Three Essays on Market Shaping Dynamics in Digital Local Food Markets
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The overall purpose of this research was to investigate how and why markets emerge, change and vary. In traditional consumer and marketing literature, adoption models, such as the theory of planned behavior and the diffusion of innovations, explain why consumers choose to adopt products and services developed by producers and providers. However, a growing number of studies have sought to reveal how consumers both generate and shape markets. One such approach currently unfolding in the marketing literature is the market system dynamics (MSD) perspective. This perspective suggests a contrasting view on traditional consumer adoption theories, one that is centred around understanding markets as social, multilevel systems that are co-created between consumers and producers. This dissertation argues that such a perspective may help shed light on the complexity of how and why multiple stakeholders shape, and are shaped by, markets. The research context is the fast-growing Scandinavian local food phenomenon of REKO markets. A literature study and a nearly three-year-long ethnographic investigation provide the data for the three complementary essays covered in this thesis. The thesis overview is written to reflect the emergence of the research question and the complementary articles. I first started this study with exploring how traditional perspectives on what may be regarded as the local food phenomena, often in the traditional literature was explained with theories on adoption and diffusion of innovation. Through addressing RQ 1: How are traditional perspectives on consumer adoption and diffusion applied in research in order to understand local food markets, and how is consumer adoption of local food markets understood from an MSD perspective? I found that they fell short in explaining how contemporary markets such as alternative local food markets, emerge, change and vary. I found that by applying the novel MSD approach, these limitations could be addressed. In the course of my ethnographic journey, the market shaping phenomenon of moral policing emerged. My emergent focus is articulated in RQ 2: How are markets shaped by the moral principles by which they are animated, and how does moral policing affect dynamics in digital local food markets? Addressing RQ2 inspired me to further investigate the complexity of market-shaping dynamics in contemporary local food markets to develop insights on how digital platforms can support the moralization of markets. Abductive inferences developed from extant research on morality in contemporary markets is explored in RQ3: How do particular digital affordances influence the moralization of digital local food markets? As such, the first essay takes the form of a literature review article entitled “Consumers in Local Food Markets: From Adoption to Market Co-creation?” It explores whether traditional models of adoption and diffusion can still be applied to understanding new phenomena, such as local food markets. This study identifies three main challenges within the literature on the adoption and diffusion of local food: the lack of a clear definition of what constitutes local food, divergent market assumptions and disparate consumer assumptions. These challenges highlight the need for new perspectives on consumer adoption and diffusion of local food. The second essay takes the form of an empirical research article entitled “Should You Be Doing That? An Exploration of Moral Policing by Everyday Market Participants.” It investigates one particular aspect of how markets are shaped: the policing of the moral principles undergirding them. This study identifies three inter-related questions regarding the phenomenon of moral policing: What triggers moral policing? How does moral policing vary in markets? And what consequences are likely to be precipitated by moral policing? Finally, the third essay takes the form of a conceptual article: “Can Digital Platforms Support Moralized Markets? An Analysis of Affordances that Matter to Moralization.” This article examines how the affordances offered by digital platforms may support the formation and maintenance of markets with explicit moral principles (moralized markets) guiding the interactions between market actors. This article identifies moralizing affordances that support the moralization of contemporary digital markets
Består avPaper 1: Bentsen, K., and P. E. Pedersen. 2020. “Consumers in Local Food Markets: From Adoption to Market Co-creation?” British Food Journal, 123, no.3: 1083-1102.
Paper 2: Bentsen, K., E. Fischer, and P. E. Pedersen. “Should You Be Doing That? An Exploration of Moral Policing by Everyday Market Participants” (Submitted to Journal of Consumer Research)
Paper 3: Bentsen, K., “Can Digital Platforms Support the Moralization of Markets? An Analysis of Affordances that Matter to Moralization” (To be submitted to Marketing Theory)
UtgiverUniversity of South-Eastern Norway
SerieDoctoral dissertations at the University of South-Eastern Norway;113
Opphavsrett© Kristin Bentsen, 2021
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