New programme: Master’s in Public & Political Marketing For those international (and Swedish!) students thinking of applying to Stockholm University’s School of Business in January, there is a new program to consider. Seeing that I took my undergraduate in Political Science, I would be applying to this master’s if I wasn’t already in a programme! The School of Business has currently added its sixth master’s programme to the academic curriculum- the Master’s in Strategic Public & Political Marketing.
Ian Richardson, a Visiting Assistant Professor from Cranfield University School of Management in the U.K., heads the new master’s programme. It combines political marketing, management, and public strategy to investigate strategic marketing in political and public organisations.
“This will be the largest programme of its kind outside the United States and a number of senior faculty from across Europe have expressed an interest in being involved with the programme,” says Professor Richardson.
As the first semester comes to an end, Professor Richardson delves more into the goals behind the new programme below.
What prompted you to develop this new cross-disciplinary master’s programme?
The motivation for the programme really stems from a recognition that strategizing behavior in contested political markets has, in some ways, fallen between the theoretical cracks of political science departments and their business school cousins. Given the incorporation of market based logic in the political domain, and the critical dependency that exists between business and politics in contemporary liberal democracies, we felt this was a significant oversight and one that necessitated urgent attention.
This new masters programme exists at the nexus of strategy, politics and markets and, not surprisingly perhaps, the Marketing Section of the Business School has been, and will remain, central to its delivery.
Indeed, the recent announcement of a merger between the Marketing Section and the PR & Reklam Department further enhances the resources available – notably in the communications area. It’s our expectation that scholars from political science and organisation theory backgrounds will be involved in the programme and a number of visiting faculty, from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, will collaborate with us on the project.
Has the rise of social media increased the need for public and political organisations to turn to professional marketers? Or has this trend already been occurring over the past decade?
A lot has been said about the impact of social media in politics over recent years and for good reason – one only has to look, for instance, at the role of communications technology in facilitating outcomes in the so-called Arab Spring. However, its significance to political marketers closer to home has been more nuanced and, in terms of the strategic management of political campaigns, it has proven extremely difficult to control with confidence. Within the context of strategic political marketing, which has made ever more use of professional marketers during the past fifty years, I would say – notwithstanding its tremendous potential – it is the latest challenge (and opportunity) to present itself.
Are the theories and literature taught in the programme only applicable to marketing in political and public organisations?
No, not at all. In fact, I would suggest that the field has moved beyond the straight application of consumer marketing concepts in the public and political domain to a position where there are lessons that might now be applied in commercial markets.
If you consider, for example, the sensitivity of marketing and communications activity within public sector (or NGO and third sector) organisations, and the challenge of reconciling ideology, or principles of public service, with market viability, there are a number of important lessons. Let’s not also forget that consumers are increasingly looking for their brands to provide meaning – something that goes beyond platitudes related to ethical practice and potentially into the realms of ideology. This is a delicate – dare I say dangerous – area for many businesses.
It’s also useful to consider the intensity and real-time nature of political campaigns played out in the full glare of a 24/7 news cycle. Business and consumer marketers, even in supposedly dynamic marketplaces, can learn a lot from those who have fined tuned the art of marketing in a split second.
What do you hope students will learn from this programme?
This programme provides students with an interest in pursuing careers in the public sector or political organisations with a much more rounded appreciation of the role and practice of marketing and communication within these domains.
It will also provide marketing and communication insights that, we believe, will become increasingly important to a wide variety of commercial organisations.
As important, however, the programme will ask students to consider serious questions about the profound economic, political and societal consequences of this activity.