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Nilsson, Johan
Publications (6 of 6) Show all publications
Nilsson, J. (2018). Constructing Consumer Knowledge in Market Research: An Ethnography of Epistemics. (Doctoral dissertation). Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Constructing Consumer Knowledge in Market Research: An Ethnography of Epistemics
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Market research pervades society. It is an endeavour that connects marketing practice with methods similar to social science. Further, market research results appear as knowledge produced to inform recipients towards making productive business decisions and as a commodity sold to commissioning clients. I suggest that such commissioned knowledge production must be approached taking into account both the making and the marketing of such material. The position of market research between concerns to know through research and to market goods and services, including its own, has been approached differently in academic scholarship. Examples range from criticism against surveillance and manipulation, to calls to defining the benefits of market research techniques for organising markets and societies. Researchers have tried to explain this knowledge making for market research as a construction of objects of knowledge or as a performative phenomenon. This thesis takes an ethnographic and cultural approach to market research work and the researchers that undertake it. Based on fieldwork with Swedish firm Norna (pseudonym) and handbooks from industry organisation ESOMAR, the thesis inquires into the epistemic practices and epistemology of market research, how market researchers consider their work influenced by the relations that they maintain and how ideas and practices in market research inform understanding of commissioned knowledge production.

The thesis consists of four articles dealing with the ideas, actors and processes that engage market researchers. The first article assesses market research industry handbooks and discusses the contribution of performativity approaches in light of this local epistemology. The second article studies how market researchers shape their respondents as part of producing consumer knowledge. The third article assesses how the work processes of market research knowledge production rely on the production and distribution of ignorance to successfully keep respondents and clients at the right certainty interval. The fourth article examines client relations and how market researchers produce materials to satisfy clients as well as shape clients’ preferences and understanding.

The findings of the thesis point to how market research features its own local epistemics and reflexivity on the part of researchers, but also the tensions and ambiguities involved. Market researchers handle commercial pressures and epistemic quandaries in parallel and overlapping relational practice through the production and deployment of both knowledge and ignorance. Dealing with clients and respondents transcends the distinction between the commercial and the informative. The text informs a further understanding of market research, its techniques by means of engaging with how its researchers view this activity. Further it challenges the social study of knowledge production by showing how in this case it includes concerns that are not simplistically commercial or epistemic.

Abstract [sv]

Marknadsundersökningar är en verksamhet i gränslandet mellan marknadsföring och samhällsvetenskapliga forskningsmetoder. Det material som marknadsundersökare tar fram ska både informera kunder och säljas till dem. Denna uppdragsbaserade kunskapsproduktion måste förstås både som kunskaps- och marknadsföringspraktik. Det är en dubbelhet som har hanterats på skilda sätt i tidigare forskning. Kritiker har diskuterat marknadsundersökningar som del av en manipulativ marknadsföringsindustri medan försvarare snarare förordat förbättrande av kunskaper kring människors behov. Skapandet av kunskap i marknadsundersökningar har ömsom setts som en konstruktion och ömsom diskuterats som ett fenomen där beskrivningen formar det som beskrivs.

Avhandlingen tar sig an marknadsundersökningar genom en etnografisk studie av marknadsundersökare och deras arbete. Med utgångspunkt i handböcker från branschorganisationen ESOMAR, samt deltagande observation på det svenska marknadsundersökningsföretaget Norna (pseudonym), diskuteras marknadsundersökningar utifrån en rad fokusområden: Utsagor om kunskap såväl som praktiker i kunskapsproduktion, hur marknadsundersökare ser sin verksamhet i relation till kunder och respondenter samt hur undersökningar görs säljbara och användbare för uppdragsgivare.

Avhandlingen innehåller fyra delstudier som i form av artiklar studerar olika aspekter av marknadsundersökningsarbete. Den första artikeln studerar handböcker från ESOMAR och undersöker vilket bidrag som kan göras vid analys givet att undersökarna själva formulerar idéer om sin verksamhet. Den andra artikeln handlar om hur marknadsundersökare formar deltagare i undersökningar som del av sin produktion av kunskap om konsumenter. Den tredje artikeln går igenom Nornas arbetsprocess med fokus kring hur kunskapsproduktion också handlar om att generera okunskap för att respondenter och kunder ska kunna förstå och delta. Den fjärde artikeln avhandlar relationen till undersökningens beställare och hur marknadsundersökare formar sitt material för att tillfredsställa kunden, samtidigt som deras preferenser formas för att producera ett gott mottagande av undersökningsresultat.

Avhandlingen visar hur marknadsundersökningar karaktäriseras av förutsättningar för kunskapsproduktion och hur marknadsundersökare själva är reflekterande kring sitt arbete. Den ambivalens och de spänningar som kännetecknar marknadsundersökningar som verksamhet diskuteras i termer av hur marknadsundersökare samtidigt hanterar kommersiella såväl som kunskapsteoretiska aspekter av arbetet. Genom att fokusera på hur marknadsundersökningar är en relationell verksamhet visas också hur marknadsundersökare hanterar spänningar mellan vikten av att göra undersökningar som hjälper kunden och att få kunder att köpa undersökningar. Genom att utgå från hur marknadsundersökare själva ser på dessa frågor ger studien en sammanvägd bild av hur uppdragsbaserad kunskapsproduktion handlar om såväl relationsarbete som att skapa kunskap som beskriver marknader och konsumenter.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2018. p. 105
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Sciences, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 735
Keywords
market research, commissioned knowledge production, epistemics, Sweden, marketing, ESOMAR, ethnography, epistemography, epistemic culture., marknadsundersökningar, uppdragsbaserad kunskapsproduktion, det epistemiska, marknadsföring, ESOMAR, etnografi, epistemografi, kunskapskultur
National Category
Business Administration Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-144816 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-144816 (DOI)9789176853603 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-03-09, Val, Hus Vallfarten, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-02-01 Created: 2018-02-01 Last updated: 2019-01-08Bibliographically approved
Nilsson, J. (2018). Know your customer: Client captivation and the epistemics of market research. Marketing Theory
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Know your customer: Client captivation and the epistemics of market research
2018 (English)In: Marketing Theory, ISSN 1470-5931, E-ISSN 1741-301XArticle in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Market research requires both making knowledge and maintaining client relationships. This article inquires into how this feature of commissioned knowledge is dealt with by a group of market researchers. Reception determines the value of the knowledge produced, prompting producers to both prepare informative content and ensure that it lands well with the recipient. Therefore, the nature and dispositions of clients and how their reception can be shaped are integral to the making of knowledge. The article explores an ethnographic case of how market researchers attempt to appeal to and shape the dispositions of their clients throughout the research process. Drawing on means of capture as a metaphor, I show how market researchers frame working with clients as a straightforward issue despite conflicting definitions of just who the client is and what it means to help them.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2018
Keywords
anthropology, capture, clients, commissioned knowledge production, ethnography, knowledge, market research
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-150395 (URN)10.1177/1470593118787577 (DOI)
Available from: 2018-08-22 Created: 2018-08-22 Last updated: 2018-08-27
Nilsson, J. (2018). Producing consumers: market researchers’ selection and conception of focus group participants. Consumption, markets & culture, 1-14
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Producing consumers: market researchers’ selection and conception of focus group participants
2018 (English)In: Consumption, markets & culture, ISSN 1025-3866, E-ISSN 1477-223X, p. 1-14Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article inquires into how market researchers produce a relationship between subjects of study and objects of knowledge in consumer research. The relationship is explored through the routines that a group of market researchers use to select and exclude research subjects. Adding to studies of how market research and other marketing activities establish their objects of knowledge in terms of “performing” and “construction,” the article draws attention to how recruitment shapes respondents: research participants are selected through principles beyond clients’ recognition of “their customers,” issues of representativity or resemblance to targeted groups. Selection practices are explored through notes from participant observation and interviews at the research firm studied, as well as the recruitment forms that are used to undertake selection. The assessed recruitment shows researcher concern over identifying respondents useful for producing descriptions of consumers and how common features of a targeted group may be excluded in this production.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2018
Keywords
Market research; consumers; selection; respondents; ethnography; focus groups
National Category
Communication Studies Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Social Anthropology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-153751 (URN)10.1080/10253866.2018.1549548 (DOI)
Available from: 2019-01-08 Created: 2019-01-08 Last updated: 2019-01-08
Nilsson, J. & Helgesson, C.-F. (2015). Epistemologies in the wild: local knowledge and the notion of performativity. Journal of Marketing Management, 31(1-2), 16-36
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Epistemologies in the wild: local knowledge and the notion of performativity
2015 (English)In: Journal of Marketing Management, ISSN 0267-257X, E-ISSN 1472-1376, Vol. 31, no 1-2, p. 16-36Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article explores the indigenous epistemology of market research. Industry textbooks are here taken as examples of commonly held understandings about market research knowledge. They are made the object of an epistemographic investigation of how the production and transfer of market research knowledge is understood within the field itself. Particular interest is directed towards what such local epistemic considerations might imply for our scholarly understanding of how economic theories and models shape markets. Our exploration depicts an indigenous epistemology characterised by a number of interrelated tensions (market research as: description vs. recommendation; art vs. science; information vs. source of inspiration; and distance vs. engagement). The article contends that these traits of the indigenous epistemology are important for understanding how market research participates in shaping markets. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2015
Keywords
performativity; actionability; market research; epistemology; epistemography
National Category
Business Administration Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-112252 (URN)10.1080/0267257X.2014.977332 (DOI)000354282600002 ()
Available from: 2014-11-19 Created: 2014-11-19 Last updated: 2018-03-09
Haywood, G., Nilsson, J., Franklin, M., Gilbert, P., Johansson Krafve, L., Lindén, L., . . . Meckin, R. (2014). Valuation Studies: A Collaborative Valuation in Practice. Valuation Studies, 2(1), 71-85
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Valuation Studies: A Collaborative Valuation in Practice
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2014 (English)In: Valuation Studies, ISSN 2001-5992, Vol. 2, no 1, p. 71-85Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This discussion note provides a perspective on valuation studies by a group of PhD students. Based on impressions from the Valuation as Practice workshop at The University of Edinburgh in early 2014 we were inspired by the example of Kjellberg et al. (2013) to debate how we see, understand, and are inspired by the field of valuation studies. It is the hope of the editors that sharing the concerns of early-stage researchers starting out in a field in flux, may be of use to, and perhaps spur, senior contributors to further develop this emerging research landscape. Using the workshop experience as a springboard, we argue that the domain of valuation studies still relies heavily on influences from the study of economics, with a strong emphasis on processes of quantification and calculation. With apparent pragmatism within the field, concern as to what might be lost by this narrower perspective is raised. Additionally, we call for the exploration of the possibility of a common language of valuation, to better define shared features, and identify as well as manage conflicts within the field.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014
Keywords
Values; valuation practices; discussion; pragmatism
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-114481 (URN)10.3384/vs.2001-5992.142171 (DOI)
Available from: 2015-02-23 Created: 2015-02-23 Last updated: 2018-01-11
Nilsson, J. (2013). Studying consumers?: Recent social science interest in market research. Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Studying consumers?: Recent social science interest in market research
2013 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

5TS scholars have come to increasingly study markets and their enactment. Cases have included traders making markets, and economists making economies. Market- and marketing researchers produce knowledge of market constituents - consumers - but have yet to become subject of longer study. This paper explores the space for the study of such researchers and their relation to consumers.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. p. 31
Series
Tema-T arbetsnotat, ISSN 1101-1289 ; 349
Keywords
Marketing, Market research, Consumption, Knowledge production
National Category
Social Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-104535 (URN)LiU-TEMA-T-WP-349--SE (ISRN)
Available from: 2014-02-18 Created: 2014-02-18 Last updated: 2016-04-19Bibliographically approved
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