Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

From marketing systems to systems marketing

Zhu, Zhichang


Zhichang Zhu


Robert L. Flood


This thesis attempts to explore an alternative taking us beyond the paradigmatic tension which currently dominates and stagnates the discipline of marketing study.This is done in the light of Habermas's critical theory and contemporary critical systems thinking (CST). It is argued that there is an urgent need to bring together the strengths of 'critical' and 'systems' so as to facilitate collective complementarity while at the same time preserving opportunity for pursuing individual development among heterogeneous approaches.Based upon an investigation of how systems approaches have been employed as analytical techniques for improving marketing efficiency, as conceptual models facilitating comprehensive understanding of marketing activities, and as a guide to theoretical development to co-ordinate divergence and convergence in research, the thesis contends that systems approaches can be employed in a perhaps more rewarding way to investigate, address and tackle the present paradigmatic tension.The thesis proposes a critical systems reconstruction of marketing study: first reorienting marketing as a communicative action system driven and constituted by rationally contesting human technical, practical and emancipatory interests in consumption needs, then suggesting a conceptual typology for categorising marketing approaches into technical, practical and normative marketing which systematically nurtures technical enhancement, subjective experience and social norm formation inmarketing activities.It is asserted that under such reconstruction, mutual understanding and support among heterogeneous approaches is not arbitrary, but is an inherent feature of marketing knowledge inquiry. The thesis urges marketing researchers to enter into a critical dialogue to establish plurality in the long term, to promote mutual learning through fusion of horizons, and to pursue complementarity in practical problemsolving intervention.In the effort to revitalise systems approach as a facilitating model, the thesis concludes that given the stagnating paradigmatic unease currently prevailing in marketing study, the future for competitive marketing systems lies in systems marketing - serving human contestable interests in consumption needs through communicative reasoning among various marketing systems.


Zhu, Z. (1995). From marketing systems to systems marketing. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 15, 2011
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Management
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Management Systems and Sciences, The University of Hull
Award Date Sep 1, 1995


Thesis (28.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1995 Zhu, Zhichang. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations