Some considerations regarding the ecological sustainability of marketing systems.
Electronic Journal of Radical Organisation Theory, 9(1),
Sustainable development is perhaps the most significant and yet the most difficult problem that marketing – and human economic activity in general – face at the beginning of the third millennium. The paper starts by charting the state of affairs for marketing and sustainability so far. It then uses the analogy of a living system to explore the requirements for a sustainable marketing system and barriers to sustainability. Proponents of living systems theory argue that a systemic understanding of life can be extended to the social domain and social systems can be considered as living, autopoietic systems, with self-egulatory functions that allow them to adapt to environmental change. A sustainable marketing system would have to be flexible, decentralised, and open to learning from environmental cues. Experiments to deal with these environmental changes would emerge in various forms and at various places and multiple feedback loops would help to identify viable solutions and spread them. However, there seem to be continuing barriers to such changes that would make the marketing system as a whole more sustainable. The
biggest of these barriers may be the requirement for growth in a capitalist economic system. This obstacle is discussed in the final part of the paper.
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