UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The systems concept in marketing : a survey of the channels of distribution aspect Woolman, Lewis Harry L.


A relatively new body of literature dealing with the concept of system has become more noticeable on the horizons of business thought in recent years. At the same time, some of this new systems literature has begun to permeate marketing thinking and is being reflected in the marketing literature. This thesis is concerned with surveying both the systems and marketing literatures in an attempt to establish some consensus as to the usage and understanding of the systems concept when applied to marketing. Due to the very broad possible nature of such a survey, only channels of distribution are involved in a depth surveying. Necessarily, however, the concept of "marketing system" has to be developed in order to integrate the channels of distribution literature with that of marketing and to provide a useful first step in integrating the systems concept into marketing thinking. The research question involves investigation of how the term "system" is employed in the marketing literature dealing with channels of distribution. The methodology employed to conduct the survey involves three major and clearly distinct steps. In the first step the literature dealing with the concept of system is surveyed and an attempt is made to establish a consensus as to the general content of that body of writings. This first step is necessarily brief and, while it is not contended that a consensus from the literature is established, at least a position is taken of describing the nature, meaning, and content of systems. The second step is a transitional one involving an integration of the systems literature with the marketing literature. Thus, a broad framework is established to permit a more detailed integration of particular aspects of marketing with the systems literature. The last step involves a somewhat more detailed survey of the literature dealing with channels of distribution that appears to utilize some aspects of the systems concept. This literature is appraised and evaluated and some statements are made as to how such writings can be improved and clarified. The conclusions that this thesis presents are general in nature. A first step in integrating the marketing literature that can employ the systems concept is provided. At the same time, a great many irregularities and inconsistencies are clarified and some attempts made to correct them. Some suggestions are made as to topics in marketing requiring elaboration before it is possible to talk extensively and meaningfully of the concept of marketing channel systems. Finally, some tenative hypotheses are postulated as to usage of systems concepts in marketing.

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