Evaluating Social Marketing Campaigns

[We’re pleased to welcome author Diogo Veríssimo of Johns Hopkins University. He recently published an article in Social Marketing Quarterly entitled “Does It Work for Biodiversity? Experiences and Challenges in the Evaluation of Social Marketing Campaigns,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Veríssimo provides insight on impact evaluation and behaviour change:]

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Measuring change is hard. But it is also critical to programs hoping to influence human behaviour towards more positive societal outcomes. In a newly published paper, Does It Work for Biodiversity? Experiences and Challenges in the Evaluation of Social Marketing Campaigns, we tackle the challenge of evaluating social marketing campaigns targeting fishing communities in the Philippines with the goal of driving the adoption of more sustainable fishing practices at the community level.

Research on impact evaluation is vital to improve implementation, particularly in high uncertainty high complexity environment such as those in which social marketing operates. By measuring our impact we can first ensure we do no harm and then learn what works, to improve with each iteration. This is even more pressing in the environmental context, as we have lagged far behind sectors such as public health or international development in impact evaluation. Therefore, our goal with this paper was to showcase how we can raise the bar on the evaluation of behaviour change efforts, in this case social marketing, in a particularly changing subject, that of fisheries management in the tropics.

Our work focused on the evaluation of three social marketing campaigns in the Philippines, using a quasi-experiments design of match campaign and control sites. We measured both social indicators through surveys and biological indicators using underwater ecological surveys. We found limited evidence of behaviour change amongst fisherman and no evidence of change in fish biomass as a result of the campaigns. Yet, we also discussed the fact that this last result is fully expected, given how long fisheries take to recover, a timeline often measured in decades, not years. This has implications not only for the way that we plan and implement social marketing campaigns but also for donors who should be aware that expecting biological change in the often short project cycles may just be unrealistic.

Moreover, our research hopes to highlight the difficulties of carrying out competent impact evaluations in a context where both social and biological indicators need to be measured and where both terrestrial and in-water data is needed. This has obvious implications in terms of cost, not only in terms of money, time and staff but also in terms of required technical expertise. Project budgets need to reflect this reality if we are to be truly evidence-based and take responsibility for the interventions we implement. After all it is not about success and failure, it should most of all be about learning.

Apprenticeship Returns: What’s Gender Got to Do with It?

8098077876_60f54b45ae_z[We are pleased to welcome Harry Krashinsky of University of Toronto. Harry published an article in the October 2015 issue of ILR Review entitled “Returns to Apprenticeship Based on the 2006 Canadian Census” with co-author Morley Gunderson of University of Toronto.]

Until the 2006 Canadian Census, there had been no large cross-sectional data sets that separately identified Canadians who completed apprenticeship programs.  That changed with the 2006 Census, and this paper examines the relative pay of these types of individuals along a number of dimensions.  We find that males who have completed apprenticeship programs exhibit earnings that are generally equivalent to males who completed college degrees, and much higher than males who completed trade certificates or completed a high school degree.  But the opposite was true to females: those who completed apprenticeships exhibited earnings that were much lower than women who completed college degrees, and somewhat lower than women who completed trade certificates or high school degrees.  In the cases where there were earnings gaps, we found that other characteristics couldn’t account for these wage differences.

The abstract:ILR_72ppiRGB_powerpoint

To study the effect of apprenticeships in Canada, the authors use the 2006 Census, the first large-scale, representative Canadian data set to include information on apprenticeship certification. They find large returns for males with an apprenticeship certification when compared with no degree, a high school degree, or a trade certificate; these returns are almost as high as those to a community college diploma. By contrast, the returns for females who hold an apprenticeship certification are generally less than the returns to any other educational certification, except for no degree. For both genders, differences in observable characteristics account for little of the overall pay differences between apprentices and the alternative educational pathways, and the patterns tend to prevail across the quantiles of the pay distributions and for instrumental variable (IV) estimates.

You can read “Returns to Apprenticeship Based on the 2006 Canadian Census” from ILR Review by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from ILR ReviewClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Construction image credited to Rob Swystun (CC)



Morley Gunderson holds the CIBC Chair in Youth Employment and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Stanford University and the International Institute for Labour Research in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2002, he was awarded the Industrial Relations Research Association Excellence in Education Award in Labour Economics, in 2003 the Gérard Dion Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Industrial Relations and in 2011 he was the first Canadian to be elected as a Fellow of the Labor and Employment Relations Association.

Harry Krashinsky is Associate Professor of Economics in the Department of Management at the University of Toronto Scarborough. He holds a cross-appointment to the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources. Prof. Krashinsky’s research currently focuses on labour economics, including wage inequality and differentials, the impact of training and accreditation on earnings, self-employment and job loss. He also pursues topics that apply econometric methods to wide-ranging policy issues, including the determinants of teen pregnancy and causes of variation in voting participation rates. He teaches courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels in labour economics and research methods.

Muhammed Saidul Islam on Why Farmed Fish Costs More Than You Think

fresh-fish-for-sale-1342715-mIf your New Year’s resolution was to eat healthier or lose weight, you mostly likely came across advice to eat more fish. The American Heart Association, for example, recommends 3.5 oz servings of fatty fish two times a week. But things can get a little confusing at the grocery store when you’re faced with the dilemma of getting a piece of salmon labelled “wild caught” or “farmed.” What’s the difference? Why not go with the cheaper option?

In the latest issue of World Future Review, associate editor Rick Docksai interviewed Muhammed Saidul Islam, author of “Confronting the Blue Revolution: Industrial Aquaculture and Sustainability in the Global South.” In the interview on aquaculture business, Docksai and Islam discuss sustainability, workplace conditions, marketing schemes, and more.

In coastal communities throughout the developing world, farmers are WFR_72ppiRGB_powerpointcordoning off swaths of beaches, lakes, and rivers to cultivate stocks of fish, shellfish, and shrimp for markets in the more affluent parts of the globe. These “aquaculture” industries, as the fish farms are known, satisfy a massive global consumer demand for seafood while bringing considerable business profits to the farmers and distributors who make their livelihoods in them. But the business carries a heavy price for the communities in which the aquaculture industries set up shop, according to Muhammed Saidul Islam, an assistant professor of sociology at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Islam investigates the expansion of aquaculture businesses up-close in his new book, Confronting the Blue Revolution: Industrial Aquaculture and Sustainability in the Global South (University of Toronto Press, 2014), and finds widespread destruction of marine estuaries, wetlands, and coastal forests in their wake. What’s more, nearby farmlands and subsistence fishing industries have been ruined as a result of these aquaculture farms, to the point where whole communities have risen up in protests—protests that local governments have often suppressed with shockingly brutal force. Meanwhile, the farms are dependent on large cadres of impoverished workers who suffer many overuse injuries and debilitating infections due to slavishly long hours, poor sanitation, and lack of health care.

You can read “The Hidden Cost of Seafood: An Interview with Muhammed Saidul Islam” from World Future Review. for free by clicking here. Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and have all the latest news and research from World Future Review sent directly to your inbox!

A Cornucopia of Book Reviews!

Looking for holiday gift ideas or just a good read to relax with over the long weekend? We’ve provided you with three insightful book reviews to sink your teeth into.

80140100838090LSaru Jayaraman. Behind the Kitchen Door. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2013. 208 pp. ISBN 978-0-8014-7951-9. $15.95 (Paperback).

Read the review by Janice Fine of Rutgers University, published in the October 2014 issue of ILR Review:

Behind the Kitchen Door is a powerful exposé of the labor practices of the contemporary restaurant industry intended to make the case that the treatment of workers is at least as instrumental to theILR_72ppiRGB_powerpoint goals of the burgeoning sustainable food movement as free-range chickens, grass-fed cows, or organic, locally sourced, non-GMO produce. Written by Saru Jayaraman, co-founder of the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY), which is the organization that emerged in the aftermath of the tragic deaths of 73 workers at the iconic Windows on the World restaurant on 9/11, the book is a trove of information about industry structure and employment practices.

9781780323091Órla Ryan. Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa. London and New York: Zed Books, 2011. 182 pp. ISBN 978-184813-005-0. $14.95 (Paperback).

Franklin Obeng-Odoom of the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia published his review in Review of Radical Radical Political Economics.

This book is interesting, but strange. It is hard to dismiss, but difficult to call a masterpiece. The RRPE_v46_72ppiRGB_powerpointbook talks about two countries without being comparative, but in a way that helps comparative studies and thinking. This is a book about the raw material that is used to produce the chocolate you have been eating, about the fair trade you have been supporting, and about how the output of smallholder farmers acts as steroids for the economies of entire nations.

9781442208742_p0_v2_s260x420Wallach, Jennifer Jensen. How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2013. 240 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1442232188. $24.95 (paperback list).

13122087Bobrow-Strain, Aaron. White Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2012. 257 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0807044780. $17.00 (paperback list).

Kim K. McKeage of Hamline University wrote a review of both of these books, which appeared in the Journal of Macromarketing.

From the titles, we get a hint that How America Eats: A Social History of U.S. Food and Culture and JMMK_new C1 template.inddWhite Bread: A Social History of the Store-bought Loaf occupy opposite ends of a spectrum. Both are social histories, and both are concerned with food, but one is a wide-ranging history of all things food related, while the other focuses on one item – commercial white bread. How America Eats is a rather impersonal account, while White Bread is embedded in the author’s own experiences and ethos. The differences in perspective, though, provide what turn out to be remarkably similar insights into American food history.

Happy reading!

What Can Yesterday’s Throwaways Tell Us About Sociocultural Branding?

trash-473333-mOne man’s trash is another man’s treasure seems to have been the case with Robert Opie, founder of Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising in London. Opie’s museum houses a multitude of everyday artifacts dating as far back as the Victorian era through recent history. In their article entitled “Throwaway History: Brand Ephemera and Consumer Culture” published in Journal of Macromarketing, Michael Heller and Aidan Kelly analyzed the collections at the museum and found that while the exhibits consisted mainly of low involvement brands, they none-the-less illustrated the evolution of British society.

The abstract:

In this article, we consider how brand artifacts and ephemera can be used to understand social and cultural JMMK_new C1 template.inddhistory. We present an analysis of the Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising in London and examine the collection of exhibits. Our analysis reveals that the museum is predominantly a collection of low involvement brands that reflect important developments in British society and culture over the past 150 years. We begin with a historiography of brands in Britain from 1800 – 1980 drawn primarily from the field of business history. We then analyze the exhibits of the museum and its collections, considering the predominance of low involvement brands in the collection and the relationship between the museum and its corporate sponsors. Finally, we evaluate brands as sociocultural phenomena and explore what the exhibits at the museum imply for contemporary brand management theory. We conclude that low involvement brands have been neglected within brand management research and that our collective throwaway history of brands and packaging are rich sources for understanding society and culture.

You can read “Throwaway History: Brand Ephemera and Consumer Culture” from Journal of Macromarketing for free by clicking here! Like what you read? Click here to sign up for e-alerts and get all the latest news and research from Journal of Macromarketing sent directly to your inbox!

Do consumers travel across state lines to avoid taxes?

cigarette-869762-mExcise tax on cigarettes can vary greatly from state to state. According to the National Conference of State Legislature, state tax amounts in 2011-2012 ranged from the lowest in Missouri at 17 cents per pack and the highest in New York at $4.35 per pack. How does this affect the means by which smokers purchase cigarettes in high tax states? How much tax revenue is lost when smokers seek out alternative purchasing options? Authors Andrew Nicholson, Tracy M. Turner and Eduardo Alvarado discuss in their article “Cigarette Taxes and Cross-border Revenue Effects: Evidence Using Retail Data” from Public Finance Review.

From the article:

This article adds to a growing literature that documents tax avoidance behavior and the implied state tax revenue leakages arising from differential taxation of cigarettes across US states. The ability of consumers to purchase at a lower-tax PFR_72ppiRGB_powerpointprice than that in one’s home state, either through border crossing or through Internet purchases, suggests that requiring Internet cigarette purchases to be subject to taxation and creating interstate coordination of excise tax rates could yield significant gains in the form of higher revenues as well as diminish cigarette consumption. Future research might examine the potential for these gains and the extent to which they are positive even for the states with relatively low excise tax rates, as these states’ retailers also face growing competition from tax-free Internet sales.

Click here to read “Cigarette Taxes and Cross-border Revenue Effects: Evidence Using Retail Data” from Public Finance Review. Want to know about all the latest from Public Finance Review? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!

The Human Right to Clean Water VS Property Rights

drinking-966608-mIn July of 2010, the United nations identified clean water as a human right. However, less than one percent of the fresh water on earth is accessible for human use and global population is estimated to reach eight billion by 2025. But not all nations have and can maintain clean water systems due to the economic burden. Could the answer to this problem lie not in human rights, but property rights? Jeremy J. Schmidt and Kyle R. Mitchell discuss the political and ethical considerations of the rights to clean water in their article “Property and the Right to Water: Toward a Non-Liberal Commons” from Review of Radical Political Economics.

The abstract:

This paper examines the turn to considerations of property in arguments regarding the commons and the humanRRPE_v46_72ppiRGB_powerpoint right to water. It identifies commitments to liberalism in political economy approaches to property and human rights and develops a matrix for identifying non-liberal conceptions of the commons. The latter holds potential for an agonistic politics in which human rights are compatible with ecological sensibilities regarding the dynamics of conflict and cooperation in complex systems.