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Marketers and Price-Fixing Conspiracies: Collusion as Practice

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paperpeer-review

Publication date07/2012
Number of pages0
<mark>Original language</mark>English
EventAcademy of Marketing Conference 2012 - Southhampton, United Kingdom
Duration: 2/07/20125/07/2012


ConferenceAcademy of Marketing Conference 2012
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


The media is replete with stories of marketers committing corporate crimes such as bribery, corruption, or the miss-selling of goods and services. A growing corpus of work has articulated the relationship between certain forms of corporate crime (such as competition law) and marketing. What remains overlooked, however, is how marketers organize certain corporate crimes that may be quite complex in nature, (such as collusion to fix prices between firms that are traditionally competitors). In this study, we examine one form of corporate crime committed by marketers: illegal price-fixing cartels, and explain the possible modes of organizing price-fixing cartels through the lens of Practice Theory.

Studies in economic sociology and marketing demonstrate that markets can be viewed as emergent entities composed by the practices of actors. The notion of practices can be found in the work of a number of divergent authors in the social sciences such as Bourdieu (1992, 1984), Giddens (1984) and de Certeau (1984), to denote the routines, techniques and habits that give rise to social structures and purpose. Practice Theory emphasises the actions of what actors do, with what, how and when. Through the application of Practice Theory and three vignettes of price-fixing cartels in the European Union, we demonstrate that illegal price-fixing networks forged by marketing managers in competing organizations can be viewed as bundles of practices and give rise to contrasting structures or modes of exchange.