Social Business

Social Business

Subrahmanyan S. and Gomez-Arias, J.T. “Poverty in a marketing class?” Responsible Management Education and the Challenge of Poverty: A Teaching Perspective. Ed. Gudic, M., Parkes, C., and Rosenbloom, A. Sheffield, UK: Greenleaf Publishing, 2016.

The purpose of this chapter is fourfold. First, it argues that the marketing discipline can provide a unique contribution to an understanding of poverty related issues, and also that it is important to discuss these issues even in a core-marketing course. Second, it discusses some pedagogical ways poverty issues can be addressed in a marketing class. Third, it explores how faculty at Saint Mary’s College of California engage students in these issues, how this topic is aligned with faculty research, the goals of the different programs within the college and the support students and faculty receive from administration. Fourth, the authors reflect on the pedagogical challenges of addressing poverty in a marketing course and identify some ways of integrating the topic better at both course and program curriculum levels. 

Bachani, J. and Vradelis M. Strategy Making in Nonprofit Organization: A Model and Case Studies, Business Expert Press, 2012.

The leaders of business and non-profit organizations that provide social services will find a set of principles that apply specifically to their organizations. The need for better management and social innovations is critical as the demand for essential social services is growing even as the budgets available from the government and non-profit foundations are declining. How are social enterprises different and what are the management challenges unique to them? Using case-studies and theories of management, we offer some principles that are uniquely applicable to social enterprises. Such organizations provide mission critical or essential social services under severe resource constraints. They often work with volunteers in highly political contexts. They are purpose driven organizations led by people committed to their causes. They face growing demand that typically outstrips available supply. They face competition for resources in the external environment. These organizations rely on harnessing the creativity of their people through processes that are poorly understood by outsiders. These organizations focus on delivering the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental impact. This book articulates the management problems unique to such organization and offers a set of principles for addressing these.

Bachani, J. and Vradelis “Non-Profit Leaders and Listening," Great Lakes Herald, Vol 6 (2), pp. 1-18, 2012.

In this interview-based study of nonprofit leaders, we find that listening to their stakeholders from within and outside their organizations is an important activity. The leadership literature does not focus on listening as an important leadership skill and activity. We review the literature on listening and argue that more research is needed in the combined area of leadership studies and listening. Specifically, our data show that successful nonprofit leaders use their listening skills to gather input from various stakeholders and then use values, their own and their organization’s, to construct their legislative power and influence and build an engaged community that supports their mission and values.


Banbury, C, Herkenhoff, L and Subrahmanyan, S., “Understanding different types of subsistence economies: The case of the Batwa of Buhoma, Uganda,” Journal of Macromarketing, 2014.

This article provides an exploratory case study that describes how a remote indigenous community, the Batwa of Buhoma, in South Western Uganda transitioned from a subsistence yet sustainable hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the forest to one where its basic needs are met through interventions by charitable nonprofit orgranizations, and to a lesser extent by a combination of nature-based and market-based activities. This paper's primary objective was to provide a case study of the Batwa of Buhoma, Uganda and in doing so, bring their story to the world. In addition, different types of subsistence markets are identified, namely, within community and cross community markets. This then raises several questions for future research and for subsitence communities like Batwa's regarding how to achieve sustainability.


Kamath, S., Lee, Y.-J. and Zhang, X.T. "Social enterprise models: creating the fortune at the base of the pyramid," International Journal of Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation (IJSEI), Vol. 2, No. 3, 2013.

This article develops on the legacy of C.K. Prahalad's seminal work on the base of the pyramid (BoP) by focusing on the aspect of income generation at the BoP. After reviewing the literature on creating sustainable livelihoods and employment at the BoP, we develop a set of archetypal social enterprise models that underlie the creation of business ecosystems and successful businesses at the BoP. Also provided are examples of sustainable models in microfinance, value chains, health and education provision, goods and services and infrastructure development. This flows from the health, opportunity, peace, education, infrastructure, and microfinance (HOPEIM) focus of integrated ecosystem development work conducted by us with BoP livelihood creation projects in India, Philippines, Rwanda, Thailand and Uganda. The paper offers several major findings in terms of how successful BoP ecosystem development can be initiated and sustained.


Onuh, W.O., Zhang, X. T. & Lee, Y. "Outsourcing and Labor Productivity: Evidence from Firms in Philippine Economic Zone in Cavite, Philippines," Journal of Business and Policy Research Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 1-18, 2012.

Existing research on offshore outsourcing mainly studies firms in developed countries. The link between domestic/offshore outsourcing and labor productivity for firms in emerging economies has not been fully explored. We use a unique firm-level dataset to investigate the relationship between outsourcing and labor productivity for firms in the Philippine Economic Zone. Our study shows that offshore outsourcing has a positive and significant impact on labor productivity. However, both foreign-owned firms and Filipino-owned firms do not benefit productivity wise when engaging in domestic outsourcing. The findings raise policy concerns on the local government requirement for firms located in the economic zone.

Natale S. & Doran, C. "Marketization of Education: an Ethical Dilemma," Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 105, No. 2, pp. 187-196, 2012.

The marketing of education has become epidemic. Business practices and principles now commonly suffuse the approach and administration of higher education in an attempt to make schools both more competitive and “branded.” This seems to be progressing without reference to the significant ethical challenges as well as the growing costs to society, students and educators in pursuing a model with such inherent conflicts. The increased focus on narrowly defined degrees targeted to specific job requirements rather than the focus on raising the level of students’ ability to engage in more abstract and critical thinking is accelerating. The impact on student world views and the lack of engagement with meaningful and challenging discourse has severely impaired their ability to become both engaged and reflective. This model has also impacted faculty morale as concern with lack of academic rigor continues to grow. An ethical crisis has emerged within education internationally and intervention is urgently needed.


Doran, C. & Natale S. "Empatheia or Caritas: The Role of Religion and Traditional Values in Fair Trade Consumption," Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 98, No. 1, pp. 1-15, 2011.

There is much still to learn about the nature of fair trade consumers. In light of the Pope’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, this article sought to advance the current understanding by investigating the role of religion in fair trade consumption. In this study, fair trade consumers and non-consumers across many religions as well as the non-religious described their consumption of fair trade products as well as the use of their religious beliefs in their purchase behavior. It appears that the non-religious are slightly more inclined toward buying fair trade products. Of the religious observers studied, Buddhists have a greater propensity to buy fair trade. The relationship between religion and fair trade consumption is complex in that religious affiliation – group membership – alone is not enough to encourage members to buy fair trade; rather, it is the use of religious beliefs as a criterion in consumption behavior that linked religion to fair trade consumption.

Doran, C. "Fair Trade Consumption: In Support of the Outgroup," Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 95, No. 4, pp. 527-541, 2010.

Two sets of self-transcendence values – universalism and benevolence – act as a source of motivation for the promotion of the welfare of the other rather than the self. This article sought to determine the exact nature of the interaction between these sets of values and the consumption of fair trade products. In an earlier study, universalism values were found to have a significant influence on fair trade consumption whereas benevolence values did not, despite their shared goal and values theory. Additionally, there was supporting evidence in the extant literature that benevolence values should influence fair trade consumption behavior. This study took a closer look at the individual values that make up the value categories universalism and benevolence to better understand and describe this universalism–benevolence distinction in fair trade consumption. It was established that perhaps group membership has an influence on the decision to buy fair trade products. Specifically, it seems that an overriding sense of responsibility to one’s own group – the in-group – prevents some consumers from identifying with, empathizing with, and subsequently sharing resources with fair trade producers; members of out-groups in far-flung corners of the globe. It appears that the universalism–benevolence distinction in fair trade consumption might also be described as an in-group–out-group distinction.


Doran, C. "The Role of Personal Values in Fair Trade Consumption," Journal of Business Ethics, No. 84, pp. 549-563, 2009.

Research in the U.S. on fair trade consumption is sparse. Therefore, little is known as to what motivates U.S. consumers to buy fair trade products. This study sought to determine which values are salient to American fair trade consumption. The data was gathered via a web-based version of the Schwartz Value Survey (SVS) and was gleaned from actual consumers who purchase fair trade products from a range of internet-based fair trade retailers. This study established that indeed there are significant interactions between personal values and fair trade consumption, and that demographics proved to be useless in creating a profile of the American fair trade consumer.


Subrahmanyan, S. & Gomez-Arias, T. "Integrated approach to understanding consumer behavior at bottom of pyramid," The Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 25, no. 7, pp. 402-412, 2008.

It is estimated that the poorest of the world, termed as being economically at the bottom of the pyramid (BoP), have a purchasing power of $5 trillion. This paper aims to study what and why they consume, and how firms can best address those needs, an area that is relatively new. The authors categorize the products and services people at the bottom of the pyramid consume with specific examples of both products and companies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, and look at the theoretical frameworks that could explain those consumption patterns.  The authors find that despite income and resource constraints, BoP consumers are sophisticated and creative. They are motivated not just by survival and physiological needs but seek to fulfill higher order needs either to build social capital, for cultural reasons or as a compensatory mechanism. They also find that when firms offer products that also fulfill these higher order needs, especially through linkages to education and job offerings, there is a greater chance of their success. The evidence is based on inference from examples in literature and related research on developmental economics. Empirical research to uncover motivations and their linkages to product success in different BoP markets would help to better understand sustainable approaches to BoP marketing. Practical implication: BoP markets offer profitable opportunities. A lot can be learnt from both local and multinational companies successfully operating there. Firms should go beyond the mentality of merely removing features or services to make them cheaper. The lesson here is relevance, adaptability and tailoring products to suit specific BOP needs in an efficient manner. Also, enabling BoP education and providing marketplace services make for more sustainable approaches. The study adds to BoP literature by examining consumption of this segment in an integrated manner: across various categories and linking it to motivation theories. This broad perspective would be useful not only for potential BoP marketers, but also for government and aid agencies.

Subrahmanyan, S. "Effects of price premium and product type on the choice of cause-related brands: a Singapore perspective," The Journal of Product and Brand Management, vol. 13, no. 2, pp. 116-124, 2004.

This exploratory study investigates whether product type, utilitarian versus hedonic, affects consumers' likelihood of choosing a brand linked to a cause. The sample consists of 128 young Chinese Singaporeans. Unlike prior research done in Western countries, the respondents in this study were more likely to buy cause-linked brands for practical than for hedonic products. They were also more likely to pay a price premium for cause-linked practical products. This difference is attributed to the Confucian values that are espoused by the Chinese. Additionally, it finds that specifying the amount donated to the cause increases the likelihood of purchasing cause-linked brands that are priced at 10 to 25 percent premiums over comparable alternatives. The article also discusses implications for marketers and future research directions.