Journal of Marketing Special Issue: Better Marketing for a Better World

Special Issue Editors: Christine Moorman (Duke University), Rajesh Chandy (London Business School), Gita Johar (Columbia Business School), and John Roberts (University of New South Wales)

Marketing has the power to improve lives, sustain livelihoods, strengthen societies, and benefit the world at large. At the same time, marketing can have a dark side—it has the power to hurt consumers, employees, communities, markets, institutions, and the environment that surrounds us. This Special Issue of the Journal of Marketing seeks to bring together wide-ranging research to assess, illuminate, and debate whether, when, and how marketing contributes to a better world.

The focus of this Special Issue on a “better world” emphasizes the impact of marketing beyond just what is good for the financial performance of firms—it emphasizes marketing’s role in the welfare of the world’s other stakeholders and institutions. Topics covered in the Special Issue can range from analyses of “win-win” approaches that contribute to a better world while also improving firm outcomes to critical assessments of the dark side of marketing.

“Better marketing” includes a wide variety of approaches, activities, and systems. It is not restricted solely to the actions of marketing managers within commercial firms. Studies that involve marketing by organizations or individuals for whom profit is not a primary motive (e.g., NGOs, governments, activists, or charitable organizations) are welcome. A key condition is that submissions must address marketing ideas, activities, or systems and their connection to a better world.

Research questions for the Special Issue could include:

  1. Do marketing activities (e.g., the marketing mix, marketing training, leadership, partnership/channel management, controls and incentives, or customer-focused cultures) contribute to a better world? Where, when, how, or why do they do so?
  2. Under what conditions might marketing lead to worse outcomes for some or all stakeholders? How can policy, regulation, or activism-based initiatives improve marketing’s contribution in this regard?
  3. How can marketing approaches that already generate positive outcomes be made more efficient and/or effective? Conversely, how can the negative outcomes of some marketing approaches be reduced?
  4. When and how does marketing foster positive versus negative externalities and how can negative externalities be ameliorated?
  5. How can firms, governments, non-profits, NGOs, and other societal stakeholders work to create win-win situations that benefit commercial as well as non-commercial stakeholders?
  6. What marketing technologies and practices can be used to nudge consumers, managers, markets, communities, and societies to contribute to a better world?

These topics offer a guide to research that would be a good fit for the Special Issue. Other interpretations, research questions, and approaches are welcome. The Special Issue Editors are happy to address questions from authors about topic fit.

Diversity in disciplinary and methodological approaches is welcome, as are new interpretations of what better marketing for a better world means and how it occurs. Scholars from marketing and allied disciplines are invited to submit, as are interdisciplinary teams of scholars. Papers that challenge the premise of better marketing for a better world are also welcome.

While the Editors welcome research on a diverse range of phenomena, stakeholders, and methodological approaches, they expect all papers to focus on marketing activities. Both conceptual and empirical papers are welcome, but the emphasis should be on developing and/or testing falsifiable arguments. Pure advocacy-focused papers are not suitable for this issue.


The rationale for the Special Issue is threefold. First, despite important inroads by scholars with transformative views of consumer and service research, we still know too little about the role of marketing in improving the world in which we live. An overriding emphasis on business performance can blind scholars, managers, policy makers, and other decision makers to the many important ways in which marketing can drive positive change or generate negative consequences. Unless we broaden the set of outcomes we study, marketing scholars risk becoming detached from many of the most important challenges facing the world today.

Second, marketing is rich and multifaceted, yet academic research tends to examine a relatively narrow set of activities, institutions, and processes. By emphasizing a fresh set of phenomena for study, this Special Issue encourages scholarship that broadens the scope of research in marketing.

Third, winds of change in technology, regulation, demographics, and marketing practices offer new opportunities for impact, including among populations not often studied in academic research in marketing. New technologies are connecting ideas, resources, individuals, firms, societies, and markets in unprecedented ways. People around the world are living longer, healthier lives and experiencing entirely new consumption patterns, and marketers are far from incidental to these changes. Yet the world continues to face many vexing challenges—including poverty, inequity, illiteracy, insecurity, disease, pollution, and human trafficking to name a few. Marketing practitioners and academics now have many new opportunities to contribute solutions to these challenges. This Special Issue is designed to stimulate scholarship regarding the role that marketing can play in understanding and resolving these problems.

Process and Timetable

All papers submitted to the Special Issue will go through the regular Journal of Marketing review process, headed by the four Editors of the Special Issue. All manuscripts should be submitted online at The submission deadline on June 1, 2019.

The Editors will host sessions ​at upcoming conferences that involve scholars from across the discipline sharing ideas about how a “better marketing for a better world” perspective might influence research in their area. Look for details on the Journal of Marketing website under “Events at Upcoming Conferences.”

Click here ​for more details on a non-exhaustive set of potential research directions for the Special Issue.


Marketing has much to contribute to the world. This Special Issue seeks to illuminate whether existing marketing approaches are being applied to their maximum potential, whether turbulent environments call for new approaches to doing good, whether any harm that marketing creates can be more effectively minimized, and whether there are areas where marketing could have a bigger contribution to a better world. This Call for Papers is an invitation to all members of the community to consider these issues and submit a paper to the Special Issue.

Go to the Journal of Marketing​​​ for more information about the journal submission process.

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