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Professor Luis Araujo

Formerly at Lancaster University

Luis Araujo

Office Hours:

Friday 16:00-17:00

Research Interests

I am broadly interested in understanding how and why industrial firms form and develop different types of exchange relationshipsa and engage in particular types of market practices. What follows is a description of my current interests.

The vertical scope and boundaries of the firm.

This work is being carried out in collaboration with Anna Dubois and Lars-Erik Gadde from Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg and we have published two papers on this topic (in Industrial Marketing Management and Journal of Management Studies, listed below). Our concern is to examine in more detail how do firms access resources controlled by other actors, namely customers, suppliers and subcontractors. In particular, we are  interested in what accounts for vertical integration and disintegration (outsourcing) decisions and how firms decide what to own, buy or access through relationships. The key difference to most of the work carried out in economics and strategic management on the boundaries of the firm is that we take relationships seriously as a form of economic coordination. In short, we regard access to resources controlled by others as important as the resources controlled by a focal firm. And, in our view, the trajectory of a firm can only be understood in relation to how access and control are combined. Some industrial sectors seem to survive and prosper with a decentralised network of small scale producers, whilst others rely on large, vertically integrated firms. What accounts for these differing patterns of industrial organisation? And what drives changes in these patterns?

Modularisation within and between Firms

This interest has been developed in conjunction with my colleagues Martin Spring and Anna Dubois. In recent years there has been a rapidly growing interest in modular architectures in products and, to a much lesser extent, services. The notion of modularity is not novel in management research. The mixing and matching of modular components was initially seen as a means to increase product variety without sacrificing operational performance. More recently, modularisation has come to constitute the distinguishing feature between mass customisation and pure customisation. Modularity has been elevated from a product design concept to a general systems principle applicable to a wide range of domains – we live in a modular age, as some claim.
However, there has been very little empirical research on how modularity at the product level translates into organisational structures as well as the structure and spatial configuration of supply networks. Furthermore, despite our everyday familiarity with modular services such as the degree programmes offered at Lancaster, next to nothing has been written on modularity in services. There is a good research opportunity, using industrial network concepts, to examine these linkages and investigate their relationship to service elements such as after-sales support, maintenance, upgrading and recycling.


Marketing and Market-Making Practices

This work has been partly inspired by my (modest) interest in the sociology of science and technology and what I have learned through the long-standing cooperation with my colleague Elizabeth Shove (Sociology) and by the recent emergence of a series of special tracks on The Evolution of Market Forms and Marketing Practices at IMP Conferences. The focus is on marketing as a set of technologies that attempt to order and control activities from a distance, and how these technologies constitute the very phenomena they attempt to order. Taking the role of marketing practices seriously implies taking a fresh look at classic issues such as the character and scope of market agency, the interrelationship between marketing institutions and marketing practices, and the nature of marketing professions. I have co-editeda special issue of Marketing Theory (Vol. 8, No. 1, 2008) with my colleagues Hans Kjellberg and Robert Spencer on the subject. A virtual special issue on the same topic is available in the Marketing Theory site.

A recent book entitled Reconnecting Marketing to Markets and co-edited with John Finch and Hans Kjellberg was published in December 2010. The book attempts to explore further the notion that markets are socio-technical constructions and the performative role that marketing plays in the construction of markets. More information about the book and other related activities can be found in the Market Studies website.

This approach raises a number of interesting questions - e.g. how do marketing practices contribute to the formation and operation of markets? What forms do markets take and how do different forms affect and become affected by marketing practices – e.g. how are differences between market forms (sustained by different marketing practices? How do different types of market actors (e.g. buyers, sellers, marketing institutions, trade associations, regulators) shape, and in turn become shaped by, particular market forms and marketing practices?


My early life had little to do with marketing or management. My first degree was in Mechanical Engineering and the interest in marketing only surfaced when I thought in reorienting my career into a technical/ commercial role. It is thus unsurprising that my research interests are confined  to industrial marketing and purchasing.

I was introduced to the IMP group's interaction approach to industrial marketing and purchasing in late 1982 and this has been the critical influence in my academic career. Since 1984 I have been involved in trying to understand relationships in industrial systems and thus my trajectory has largely paralleled developments within this academic community.

Current Teaching


MKTG 301 - Strategic Marketing

Postgraduate (MSc in Advanced Marketing Management)

MKTG 403 - Understanding Business Markets

MKTG 409 - Dissertation Coordinator

Professional Role

Associate Editor of Marketing Theory


Lic. Mech Eng (Porto), MA (Lancaster), PhD (Lancaster)

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