Tomas Nilsson

PhD, affiliated with the university

Research

Tomas Nilsson is a senior lecturer at the Department of Service Management and Service Studies. Read more about the research on his Swedish profile.

Rhetorical business – A study of marketing work in the spirit of contradiction (PhD thesis)

Marketing has traditionally been understood from the perspective of marketing management. This causes problems when we study marketing practices because the normative discourse of marketing management is not particularly useful for describing the day-to-day work of marketing practitioners. This calls for marketing research from new perspectives.

My PhD thesis Rhetorical business – A study of marketing work in the spirit of contradiction investigates marketing work in professional service organizations from a rhetorical perspective. The overall research question – What do marketers do when they do marketing work? – is explored empirically through conversations, observations and daily interaction and argumentation with professionals involved in the marketing of consulting services. The rhetorical theory applied in the analysis builds on the assumption that every reasonable argument can be met with an equally reasonable counterargument, which is not only how we argue but also a representation of how we gain knowledge of the world – namely, by contradicting it. The analysis is organized in three themes – situation, strategy and subject – that address questions such as Where and when do marketers argue for business purposes? What rhetorical strategies are used?, and How can the subjects of marketing work be portrayed? This is followed by a discussion of the analysis under the two headings persuasive marketing talk and marketing work “in-between”.

The thesis concludes that marketing work is accomplished by self-reflexive marketers who argue for business purposes in, through and in-between meetings as they employ versatile and expansive language and enact contradictory selves. In so concluding the thesis contributes a multifaceted account of marketing work beyond the framework of normative marketing management. It also shows how rhetorical theory can be used in marketing research to analyse aspects of marketing practice that would otherwise have been poorly accounted for. Finally, the text is written as a “confessional tale” by an author with long experience of marketing work, in the hope that it may encourage self-reflexive inquires among professionals involved in marketing.

 

Recent research outputs

Tomas Nilsson, 2015, 205 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)

Tomas Nilsson, 2009, (Unpublished). 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceeding

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