Are We Teaching What Employers Want?

[We’re pleased to welcome author Ellen McArthur of Griffith University, who recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled, “The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia.” The article is co-authored by Krzysztof Kubacki, Bo Pang, and Celeste Alcaraz, also of Griffith University. Below, McArthur discusses key findings of the study:]

Innovative research by Griffith University into graduate job advertisements in Australia shows employers value the personal traits of job candidates more highly than degree qualifications. The study, which is the largest of its kind into graduate jobs in marketing, raises questions about the purpose of a degree, and whether universities are preparing students to be “work-ready”.

While the study focussed on marketing jobs, the findings have relevance for all academic disciplines. The most frequently required attributes were “soft skills” that are not specific to marketing, including motivation, time management, attention to detail, and teamwork. Superior communication skill, particularly writing talent, was also highly demanded, and it was only after the calls for these generic abilities that occupation-specific skills began to rank.

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Among occupation-specific abilities, digital marketing was the most needed, including search engine optimisation, Google Analytics, AdWords, and creating and curating social media content for a range of platforms. Other demanded skills included project management, marketing communications, sales, and customer service and customer relationship management (CRM).

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Some 48.5% of ads called for applicants with experience. This significant figure suggests the need for far greater integration of undergraduate study with initiatives that deliver hands-on practice, including internships, work integrated learning, and practice-based assessments.

General IT skills and a high level of computer literacy are important pre-requisites for applying for marketing positions. Experience in MS Office, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, was specified in almost one in three ads, followed by Adobe Suite, InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. Though students may use these programs ad hoc, such strong demand suggests the need to embed this software use into courses as explicit learning outcomes.

A marketing degree specifically was required in only half the sample of advertisements, with communication, psychology, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics also providing pathways into marketing roles. This reflects the cross-disciplinary nature of marketing careers in the twenty-first century.

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The Employers’ View of “Work-Ready” Graduates: A Study of Advertisements for Marketing Jobs in Australia’, content analysed 359 graduate advertisements (83,000 words) for careers in marketing posted on Australia’s top jobs website in a six-month period in 2016. Full time employment rates for Australian graduates have dropped to new lows, and the research aimed to identify the specific skills and attributes demanded by employers for graduate level jobs in marketing.

The study won a Best Paper Award at ANZMAC in 2016. Click here to read the full article for a limited time.

Griffith University is based in South-east Queensland, Australia, and ranks in the top 3% of universities globally, with more than 50,000 students across five campuses.

Dr. Ellen McArthur, who led the research project, said “large samples of job advertisements are perhaps the most valid way to study employers’ needs, but they are rarely used for employability research.”

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Introducing the New Incoming Editor for the Journal of Service Research

We are excited to announce the new incoming editor for the Journal of Service Research, Dr. Michael Brady. Dr. Brady graciously provided some information regarding his education, career, and experience in the management field:

Mike_BradyDr. Michael (“Mike”) Brady is the Carl DeSantis Professor and chair, Department of Marketing, at Florida State University. Mike’s primary research interest lies at the intersection of customers and employees in frontline service transactions.  He has published articles in many top scholarly journals, including Journal of Service Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and many other outlets.  His research articles have been cited over 15,000 times to date, his 2000 article in the Journal of Retailing is one of the most downloaded articles of all time in Science Direct, and his 2001 article in the Journal of Marketing was ranked the fifth most influential article for future research in services marketing.

Mike’s work has also been covered in the popular press, such as MSNBC, U.S. News, the Chicago Tribune, and Tampa Bay Times.  He has won numerous awards, including the Christopher Lovelock Career Contributions to the Service Discipline Award, the SERVSIG best article award, the Academy of Marketing Science and University outstanding teacher awards, the inaugural College of Business Distinguished Teacher award,  the University graduate studentJSR_16.2_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpg mentoring award, and the William R. Jones award for mentoring minority doctoral students.  Mike is a past president of the American Marketing Association’s Academic Council and an Associate Editor for the Journal of Service Research and Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science.  He is currently co-editing a special issue of Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science and he just finished co-editing a special issue of Journal of Service Research.

Mike currently lives with his wife of twenty
years and two children in Florida. Before earning his PhD, Mike played baseball at Florida State and was then drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers, playing professionally for four years. Baseball runs in the Brady family, as Mike’s father also played professionally for the Detroit Tigers before assuming the university provost and president roles at Jacksonville University. Mike’s academic year consists of teaching large online sections of principles of marketing and will take on the role of Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Service Research later this year.

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Does using clickers in class help students engage and succeed?

With the growing technology advances and integration of new technology into classrooms, professors across the nation have adopted clickers as a means of participation in lectures. Of course, with new engagement strategies comes pros and cons, including how students must remember to bring the clickers, and if lost, will have to pay to replace the unit. The clickers can also prompt students to pay more attention in class, sinJME(D)_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgce clickers can be used to take quizzes, and in turn, keep an online record of attendance.

A recent article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “Using Clickers in a Large Business Class: Examining Use Behavior and Satisfaction,” analyzes the use of clickers in the classroom which yields overall positive responses in content engagement. Authors Nripendra P. Rana and Yogesh K. Dwivedi also provide data on the behavioral intentions of the students in their study. The abstract for their article is below:

As more and more institutions are integrating new technologies (e.g., audience response systems such as clickers) into their teaching and learning systems, it is becoming increasingly necessary to have a detailed understanding of the underlying mechanisms of these advanced technologies and their outcomes on student learning perceptions. We proposed a conceptual model based on the technology acceptance model to understand students’ use behavior and satisfaction with clickers. The valid response from 138 second-year business students of Digital Marketing module taught in a British university, where clickers are extensively used in the teaching and learning process, made the basis for data analysis. The results provided a strong support for the proposed model with a reasonably adequate variance (i.e., adjusted R2) of 67% on behavioral intentions and sufficiently high variance on use behavior (i.e., 86%) and user satisfaction (i.e., 89%).

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Trustworthy Marketing Mixes: A Study of Forestland Owners

[We’re pleased to welcome author Kelley Dennings of the American Forest Foundation, Washington, D.C.. Dennings recently published an article in Social Marketing Quarterly entitled, “Research Into Woodland Owners’ Use of Sustainable Forest Management to Inform Campaign Marketing Mix,” co-authored by Jennifer Tabanico. From Dennings:]

The article titled “Research Into Woodland Owner’s Use of Sustainable Forest Management To Inform Campaign Marketing Mix” came about through a partnership between the American Forest Foundation and Action Research. The American Forest Foundation (AFF) works on-the-ground with families, teachers, and elected officials to promote stewardship and protect our nation’s forest heritage. When AFF embarqued on the creation of a social marketinsmqa_23_1.cover.pngg campaign they brought on Action Research to learn more about the barriers and benefits woodland owners encounter with sustainable forest management. Action Research specializes in changing human behavior through the application of traditional marketing activities blended with cutting edge research findings from the social and behavioral sciences including psychology, sociology, and economics.

This research is imperative as woodlands provide many environmental benefits such as clean air, clean water, recreational opportunities and wood products. However, keeping our forests healthy requires the support of private woodland owners that own the majority of America’s forests. The difficulty with this work is that harvesting trees without the advice of a forester can leave a landowner vulnerable. A forester ensures that the sustainable forest management actions meet the needs of the woodland owner as the forester makes recommendations depending on what the woodland owner wants to gain from their land.

What our findings showed is that trust is very important between a woodland owner and the forester. However, we found that advice from friends and family is highly trusted. Unfortunately this help may not always be the most accurate. This lack of trust is being addressed in the campaign’s marketing mix through peer networks and testimonials. Research into trust can help inform other campaigns outside of conservation and is very useful for those working in rural communities.

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Measuring Organizational Legitimacy in Social Media

[We’re pleased to welcome author Michael Etter of the City University of London, UK. Etter recently published an article in Business & Society entitled “Measuring Organizational Legitimacy in Social Media: Assessing Citizens’ Judgments With Sentiment Analysis,” co-authored by Elanor Colleoni, Laura Illia, Katia Meggiorin, and Antonino D’Eugenio. From Etter:]

8583949219_f55657573e_z.jpgSocial media have given ordinary citizens the opportunity to freely express their opinions and feelings in any tone or style. The heated discussions around various topics from politics, sports, and corporations often evolve in parallel to news media coverage. Accordingly, we have developed the idea that a measurement of citizens’ judgment in social media can give researchers a new way to assess the legitimacy of organizations. Compared to existing measurements that, for example, assess judgments in news media coverage, a measurement based on social media would directly access the voices of ordinary citizens and therefore account for their heterogeneous norms and expectations.

In this article we describe and test how a measurement based on social media data can give indication for organizational legitimacy. We use the method of sentiment analysis that is based on computational linguistics and apply it to a case from the banking industry over a one year period.

Our findings show that, indeed, an analysis of 14’000 tweets reveals a different judgment than the analysis of 730 news articles. Compared to the news media, citizens judge the bank in a much more negative way. Also we find that the bank is discussed by 6000 citizens and for a broad variety of topics (around 400 hashtags). Clearly, social media data gives researchers access to different judgments than found in news media, which are written by a few journalists that adhere to professional norms and standards and are subject to various selection processes. We therefore encourage researchers to take into account social media, such as Twitter, in order to achieve a richer understanding of legitimation processes in a digital world. For practitioners, sentiment analysis of twitter data is a tool to monitor and identify issues and sentiment in a timely manner.

Cell phone photo attributed to Jason Howie (CC).

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How to turn a Cinderella product into a market queen

[The following post is re-blogged from the London School of Economics and Political Science Business Review. Click here to view the article from LSE. It is based on a paper recently published in Administrative Science Quarterly titled “How Cinderella Became a Queen: Theorizing Radical Status Change.“From LSE:]

The case of Italian grappa shows that more than marketing is needed to raise a product’s market status, write Giuseppe Delmestri and Royston Greenwood

Quality, we know, is often necessary, but it’s far from a sufficient condition for market status. Better technologies lose format wars — as Betamax did against the inferior VHS videotape in the 1980s, and as artisanal bakeries did to industrial mass producers.

Losing status, however, is much easier than gaining it. Ask law firms, accounting firms, even universities how they might break into the elite status group within their industry, and there is typically no response. Turning low into high status is profoundly difficult — irrespective of quality, and especially if the starting point is from the base of the market status pyramid.

In the case we discuss below — Italian grappa — several attempts by entrepreneurs to improve the status of grappa and of their artisanal production methods resulted in failures and even bankruptcy — even though the quality of the product was superb. But Italian grappa did achieve the dramatic status move from the bottom to the top of the status ladder. It rose from a plebeian underdog of whisky and cognac to become a lifestyle product served at eminent social gatherings and offered by starred restaurants. How did this happen?

Until the 1970s, Italian grappa was considered a cheap, almost stigmatized beverage consumed at the margin of society and as being only appropriate for workers, peasants and alpine soldiers. It was associated with stigmatized artisanal and even clandestine production in hidden shacks. At the time, artisanal family firms were considered primitive — paradoxical in a country that would later give rise to the Slow Food Movement that praised such organizations. It is intriguing, therefore, that it was a young lady, Giannola Nonino — the wife of Benito, an exceptional distiller but marginal entrepreneur in the North Italian Friulian province — who turned the savoury spirit from a social no go to an hedonic must of Italian after-dinner tasting.

Giannola and her family, thanks to their Grappa di Picolit, created a beachhead into the expensive high status category occupied by foreign spirits; other artisanal producers followed and, eventually, the whole meaning of grappa in Italian society turned on its head. Grappa became “lo spirito nazionale,” at equal level with whisky and cognac (see figure below).

Figure 1. Category positions in the superordinate class of spirits in the Italian marketfigure-1-grappa-nonino

What can we learn from this story on how to elevate the status of a whole market category? We discovered that turning a weak low status position into a strong high status one is possible thanks to theorization by allusion — in other words, by performing a sort of cultural judo, never attacking directly the powerful market incumbents while relying on a perfect understanding of the cultural context of the market and of the own distinctive strengths.

Fundamentally, the strategy of allusion is based on three interconnected tactics:

  1. Detach yourself from the category in which customers put you. You should first confuse your customers and stakeholder. Giannola designed the bottle and presented herself in a way that contradicted restaurateurs’ and critics’ expectations on what grappa is and should be. When looking at the design and shape of the tiny minimalist bottle (see picture below) they wondered: ‘Is this grappa?’ When confronted with a young passionate lady dressed in Armani fashion, sommelier in restaurants were puzzled, but listened. Moreover, although the Noninos initially gave their precious bottles as gifts to prominent Italians, afterwards the price of Grappa di Picolit was set at an ‘astronomical’ level — again, as a way of distancing themselves from the low status traditional ‘grappa’ category. Finally they avoided any direct cooperation with grappa producers. They sought to avoid any risk of stigma by association. In the first stage of status elevation you should avoid bad company. All these tactics detached the product form the grappa category. But, puzzling your customers and stakeholders is not enough—you need a second tactic…small-grappa-nonino

    1. Emulate a proximate high status category. In other words, in addition to confusing potential clients and consumers you should provide a key by which to answer the confusion. The Noninos, supported by the anarchist maverick food and wine critic Luigi Veronelli, did so by adopting the vocabulary and practices of high status French wine (single grape, appellation of origin, cru). They also networked and convinced distinguished wine sales agent to distribute their grappa. And they directly addressed sommeliers in reputed restaurants. Doing so gave these stakeholders a language for talking about grappa in distinguished terms. Importantly, emulation is not the same as directly competing with high status members of the category in which you are located – the Noninos did not try and emulate and thus directly challenge premium cognac nor whisky.
    2. Engage in storytelling that connects tradition and cultural innovation. All of the previous tactics and efforts will be useless if you fail to engage in appropriate storytelling. It is necessary to embed and engage your product in stories beyond your immediate market, stories that resonate with wider cultural debates. Such cultural engagement is pivotal. Otherwise, why should a sommelier or a wine critic believe in the analogy between grappa and French wine? The Noninos used a kind of tightrope storytelling. On the one hand they reinterpreted and praised fading cultural traditions and national institutions: they fought for the preservation of traditional Friulian grapes, boldly presented themselves as a family business, promoted artisanal methods as authentic, and linked their bottles to traditional Venetian glass manufacturing. On the other hand, they connected grappa to the emerging Milanese art design and fashion movements and launched a Literary Award to anchor their story to an upward wave of national identity affirmation that resonated with the values of the Italian emerging elites.

    It is unlikely that the push for radical status elevation could be delegated to a PR agency. What we learned from this case is that unusual success only occurs when authentic messages are conveyed by authentic messengers that put their face and themselves at stake. And status dynamics of market categories are not important for consumer products only! Consider that institutional entrepreneurs are much needed in our organizations if we want to address the grand challenges of our times. Take these two examples: How to elevate the status of vegetarian meals in order to favour the reduction of carbon-intensive meat and dairy consumption? Or how to reduce the status of private in comparison to public transportation for the same aim?

    Notes:

    • This blog post is based on the authors’ paper How Cinderella Became a Queen Theorizing Radical Status Change published in Administrative Science Quarterly, December 2016.

    • The post gives the views of its authors, not the position of LSE Business Review or the London School of Economics.

    • Featured image credit: Nonino grappa distillery, by Riccardo Cattapan, ©Nonino 

    • Before commenting, please read our Comment Policy.

How Superstitions May Impact Risky Behavior

Superstitions, particularly in Eastern cultures, often inform decisions, from the mundane to the life-changing. Existing research links a superstitious mindset to 544623640_258eaf528a_ba higher likelihood of engaging in riskier behaviors, such as gambling. A new Social Marketing Quarterly article seeks to explore different styles of superstition and the way in which these styles may impact a tendency towards risk. In their paper “Exploring Different Types of Superstitious Beliefs in Risk-Taking Behaviors: What We Can Learn From Thai Consumers,” authors Sydney Chinchanachokchai, Theeranuch Pusaksrikit, and Siwarit Pongsakornrungsilp examine differences between passive and proactive superstitious consumers. Passive superstition involves a strong belief in fate or destiny; these individuals feel that their luck is beyond their control. Proactive superstitious individuals, however, may practice certain rituals for to attract good luck or ward off evil forces. The researchers summarize:

The impact of superstitious beliefs on decision making and how they affect both business and consumers has been observed for several decades. Chinese consumers are willing to pay premium for something that contains number “8” and Thai consumers will do the same for number “9”. Those numbers are considered good luck and prosperity in the cultures. There are times that consumers make irrational decisions based on superstitious beliefs. Our paper explores different types of superstitious beliefs and how they affect risk-taking behaviors. We chose Thailand as a context because Thai consumers are known for their superstitions. We found that people who are “passive superstitious” (meaning that they believe in fate and generally do not take any superstitious action to control the situation) make riskier decisions when they received superstitious objects (e.g., lucky charms). These people do not usually go out and seek superstitious objects or practice superstitious rituals. As online gambling, online financial investments, and other risk-taking activities become more accessible to consumers, knowing that individuals may be either proactive or passive superstitious, the marketing campaigns for these types of products should be carefully monitored and regulated as some promotional tactics may trigger risky decisions.

So while passive superstitious consumers may be highly influenced by magical objects, proactive superstitious consumers are less likely to modify their behavior based on such an object.

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*Image attributed to Tiago Daniel. (CC)