An Evaluation of Organisational Control Strategies for Relationship Marketing
This paper discusses the issue of organisational control with respect to marketing. In particular it explores the implications of calls by relationship marketers to discard bureaucracy and embrace alternative forms of control which, they argue, are more conducive to the facilitation of exchange relationships. The paper fills a gap in the literature by situating bureaucratic control within the scheme developed by social theorist Max Weber (1946) and amplified by Etzioni (1964). This enables discussion of a number of alternatives to bureaucracy including some that have not previously been discussed by marketing theorists. An assessment of the evidence of the implementation of alternatives to bureaucracy indicates that while each form has merit, they also suffer from drawbacks. Paradoxically alternatives often serve to complement bureaucratic control and may even come to replicate it. Marketers' aspirations towards decentralised, flat structures are called into question in the light of evidence that suggests that centralisation and hierarchy are features even of virtual organisations. Finally it is suggested that reassessed, bureaucracy can in fact be a useful and effective form for the organisation and control of marketing activities.