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The negotiation of role-related tensions by marketing managers in Islamic banks in the UK: A phenomenological investigation
The purpose of my research is to investigate how Islamic Bank (IBs) marketing managers in the UK reconcile their intellectual capital, moral philosophies and professional ethics - largely acquired through previous financial industry and life experience – with the tensions related to their role within IBs which are based on and operate within legal Shariah boundaries with their own distinct moral identity. My research design is built on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) which is a qualitative approach committed to examination of how people “make sense” of their major life experience (Smith et al., 2009). This method, as proposed by Smith et al. (2009), is chosen due to its unique ideographic and hermeneutic focus to unravel an in-depth “lived-experience” of a research subject. My research focuses on two aspects of IB marketing manager’s role in context of their transition from conventional to Islamic Finance. These are business and ethical tensions related to their role.
Emergence of a service-based perspectives and relational approaches to marketing are challenging the traditional role assigned to marketing manager (as merely a manager of the marketing mix) and extend their role to include internal and external network management, communication, knowledge generation, communication and marketing productivity and effectiveness (Grönroos, 1996; 1999; Gummesson, 2000; 2004; Vargo and Lusch, 2004; 2007). Marketing literature therefore, suggests that expanding inventory of the marketing manager’s role transcends ‘marketing management’ nomenclature and includes vital responsibilities such as efficient knowledge acquisition*, management and dissemination, to both external and internal stakeholders (Griffith and Lusch, 2007, Gok and Hacioglu, 2010), supervising formal market research projects and maintaining customer database (Srivastava et al., 1999; Abela and Murphy, 2007).
The relational nature of the marketing managers’ role requires interaction with a variety of stakeholders - and this can naturally result in interdepartmental tensions. Indeed the literature provides ample evidence of frequent tensions between marketing managers and sales, R&D, personnel, production and finance departments (Gupta et al., 1987; Lucas & Busch, 1988; Carpenter, 1992; Cespedes, 1996; Anderson et al., 1999; Rust et al., 2004; O’Sullivan and Abela, 2007; LeMeunier-FitzHugh et al., 2011).
Beyond interdepartmental relationships, a number of factors such as organisational ethical identity, personal moral philosophy and religiosity of the marketing manager dictate the extent to which the ethical judgement of managers can have an impact on the overall profitability of the firm (Flynn, 2008; Rawwas et al., 2012; Singhapakdi, 2012; Siala, 2013). Accumulative social and professional experience of marketing managers guides them how to negotiate through these interdepartmental and ethical tensions.
Marketing managers in Islamic Banks (IBs) in the UK are not immune to such tensions and in addition to dealing with the above tensions, they have to contend with further tensions generated through a unique environment of the Islamic finance industry which is governed by the principles of Shariah law, while simultaneously subject to the regulatory requirements of the conventional financial system in the UK. A key difference is that the conventional banking system revolves mainly around interest rate differential which is the main source of profit for banks (Rethell, 2011: 80), whereas IBs are prohibited from dealing in interest and speculative investment and accrue profit through either dealing in risk-sharing contracts or cost-plus transactions (Chapra, 1985; Iqbal and Molyneux, 2005:112; Ayub, 2007). Therefore, the above differentiation can be a source of additional tension for IB marketing managers, particularly considering that almost all UKIB marketing managers have transitioned from conventional finance to Islamic finance (IF).
Marketing literature suggests that the intellectual capital of Islamic Banks’ marketing managers has been largely acquired through a combination of their professional experience with conventional financial services marketing and other ethical, social and spiritual experiences (Iqbal and Molyneux, 2005:122). As such, their past experience has a significant impact on how they negotiate through their job-related (marketing) tensions, however, very little is actually written about these managers’ understanding and negotiation of marketing tensions as they attempt to tap into the Islamic Finance market.
Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) method, my research therefore, is aimed at investigating the “life-world” of IB marketing managers. In particular, how these managers “make sense” of the business and ethical tensions and reconcile their intellectual capital, moral philosophies and professional ethics - largely acquired through previous financial industry and life experience – with the business and ethical tensions related to their role within Islamic banks which are based on and operate within legal Shariah boundaries with their own distinct moral identity which may be different than their own moral and ethical persuasions. IB marketing managers’ conceptualisation of, and reconciliation with, these marketing and ethical tensions in the context of their transition from conventional to Islamic finance, is the key phenomenon that my research is attempting to capture. Therefore in the context of my research, IPA is deemed to be the most appropriate qualitative enquiry with its in-depth ideographic focus to uncover and elucidate a true picture of the “lived-experience” of IB marketing managers.
* Used as a comprehensive term to encompass all methods of learning, developing, gathering, absorbing and acquiring knowledge.
Riaz, M. (2016) 'Islamic Marketing Ethics and The Marketing Practices of Islamic Banks'. ISRA International Journal of Islamic Finance. 8(2): pp27-49