Formalizing consumer tribes: Towards a theorization of consumer-constructed organizations

Elissavet Mamali, Peter Nuttall, Avi Shankar

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Abstract

Marketing theory on consumer tribes explores how these ephemeral collectives can grow into more formal, organizational systems that become subject to the various demands of the market. But how tribal doctrines endure in communities that are formalizing their market engagement remains under-theorized. To address this, we draw from literature on hybrid organizations and ethnographic data from an art-house cinema tribe that is formalizing its operations into what we conceptualize as a ‘consumer-constructed organization’ (CCO). We theorize CCOs as dynamic, hybrid organizational forms that balance the doctrines and characteristics of consumer tribes with their role as market actors. In addition to introducing CCOs as a theoretical and empirical point of reference in consumer research literature, we contribute by theorizing the ongoing tensions that unravel as tribal doctrines persevere or dissipate in the face of market demands and organizational formalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521-542
Number of pages22
JournalMarketing Theory
Volume18
Issue number4
Early online date10 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018

Keywords

  • Consumer-constructed organizations
  • consumer organizing
  • consumer tribes
  • consumption communities
  • formalization
  • hybrid organizations
  • hybridity
  • market logics
  • tribal doctrines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing

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