Corporate/Organisational Marketing in the 21st Century: Challenges and Opportunities in Turbulent Times
Organisations of all sorts (business, public, voluntary, charitable, royal, political, cultural, temporary etc.) face an increasingly complex, multipolar and variegated world, which poses a myriad of paradoxical and contradictory challenges (see figure) but that also opens up opportunities for new forms of economic, social or cultural engagement and activity.
For example, while corporations and their brands have become a locus for identification, corporate scandals and misconduct have resulted in a reputational crisis undermining their legitimacy with stakeholders. At the same time that mediatisation and new forms of networked communication lead to increased visibility of organisations, stakeholder attention has become a scarce resource for many organisations. Concurrently, communication has evolved from a unidirectional activity aimed at representation and persuasion into a polyvocal and shared activity giving meaning and identity that is constitutive for organisations themselves. Yet, material impacts of organisations (such as economic inequality or environmental degradation) cannot be resolved by communication alone but require a change in actual practices and conduct. While there is a need for greater integration or at least coordination between the communication, symbolism and behaviour of organisations, the growing fragmentation and diversity within and beyond organisations makes this endeavour increasingly complex and often futile. Finally, while large global corporations and other institutions exert growing economic and symbolic power and influence, alternative forms of economic and non-economic organising challenge the incumbent forms of organisation and ask for new explanations. These are just a few challenges and paradoxes for which our field needs to find convincing answers.
Organisations increasingly engage in practices and are concerned with issues related to what is covered by the umbrella term Corporate/Organisational Marketing in order to cope with these challenges and to seize on new opportunities due to economic, social, cultural and technological change.
As such, Corporate/Organisational Marketing (and related fields) seeks to provide academics and practitioners with a general framework for comprehension, reflection and intervention. In practical terms, our field increasingly needs to find and articulate answers to the pressing challenges of our time by also looking beyond the immediate instrumental concerns of organisations. In scholarly terms, there is an urgent need to draw on multiple disciplines and perspectives (also beyond business and management) in order to balance and integrate micro-, meso-, and macro-level explanations.
In combining the cerebral with the practical we are better placed to have meaningful impact – to help the people tasked with leading, managing, representing, and communicating contemporary organisations vis-à-vis multiple constituents and their conflicting economic and social demands and interests as well as to contribute to the public discourse about economic and civic progress in the 21st century.
Both aspects – practical impact and multi-disciplinary insights – have long inspired the ICIG and its supporters and it is befitting to mobilise this legacy and ethos in order to chart new directions that will guide and inform research, business practice and academic teaching within the broad field of Corporate/Organisational Marketing (and related areas) in coming years.
The 19th ICIG symposium seeks to provide a forum for new ideas and insights that move our field forward in light of the many challenges but also opportunities in the 21st century that organisations face.