Welcome to the CERS blog! CERS, Centre for Relationship Marketing and Service Management, has a blog for its researchers and collaborators to write about research, services, marketing, and academic life. All contributions are wished welcome. Please contact Coordinator Annamari Huovinen: annamari.huovinen(at)hanken.fi
In Finland, we consume on average almost four times the amount that is
environmentally sustainable. Calls for changing our consumption patterns in
response to the climate crisis, biodiversity loss, and other environmental
problems have for years resulted in only little change. The current global
pandemic appears to have succeeded where threats of environmental crises have
so far failed.
The current consumption changes are of course likely to be only
temporary, as most of us are eagerly awaiting to get back to normal.
Unfortunately, the climate crisis is
here to stay and requires a more permanent change to our consumption patterns.
In our efforts to mitigate climate change and other environmental problems, can
we learn something from the current crisis?
If the current crisis has taught us one thing, it is that waiting until
we are in the middle of a crisis to make changes is not a good strategy. The
drastic reductions in consumption that we are seeing at the moment are neither
socially nor economically sustainable. Many are losing their jobs, companies
are struggling to stay afloat, and the national debt is expected to skyrocket. Since
our economies and societies are built around high levels of consumption, sudden
disruptions to this trajectory are disastrous.
Changes to our consumption patterns require accompanying changes to how
our societies are structured. It requires rethinking and restructuring of the
economic system. The current pandemic has shown us that, in the face of crisis,
political decisions that dramatically change our everyday lives can happen very
quickly when needed. But it would be in all of our best interests not to wait
for environmental problems to keep worsening and instead make efforts to tackle
them before we are in the midst of the crisis. Acting before the storm hits.
Olemme hukkua muoviin! Sosiaalinen media on
täynnä kuvia muovilautoista valtamerissä ja muoviin sotkeutuneista linnuista.
Silti jokapäiväinen elämämme on täynnä muovia pakkausten sekä muovipussien ja
-kassien muodossa. Jotain tulisi tehdä, ajattelemme.
Maailmassa kulutetaan 500 miljardista
biljoonaan muovipussia vuosittain, mikä tarkoittaa 1,4–2,7 miljardia muovipussia
joka päivä tai miljoona muovipussia minuutissa. Luvut ovat pöyristyttäviä, ja
siksi eri toimijat ovat tehneet aloitteita muovipussien kulutuksen
vähentämiseksi. Eri valtiot ovat reagoineet tähän globaaliin ongelmaan joko
kieltämällä muovikassit täysin, tekemällä niistä maksullisia, solmimalla yksityisiä
sopimuksia tai käyttämällä kaikkia näitä keinoja. Suomessa toimiin on ryhdytty vapaaehtoisten
Green Deal -sopimusten kautta (ks. Kuva 1).
Kuva 1: Kansalliset toimet muovikasseja vastaan
Ympäristöministeriö toteaa sivuillaan, että
”Green deal on vapaaehtoinen sopimus valtion ja elinkeinoelämän välillä.
Tavoitteena on yhdessä edistää kestävän kehityksen tavoitteita etsimällä
ratkaisuja ilmastonmuutoksen hillitsemiseksi ja kiertotalouden edistämiseksi.”
Muovikassisopimus on ratkaisuista ensimmäinen ja solmittu Suomen
ympäristöministeriön ja Kaupan liiton kanssa vuonna 2016.
suomalaiset kuluttivat vuosittain 68 muovikassia henkeä kohti. Tavoitteena on, että Suomessa käytettäisiin vuosittain
enintään 40 kassia henkeä kohti vuoden 2025 loppuun mennessä. Tähän mennessä 27
yritystä on sitoutunut sopimukseen; mukana on suuria vähittäiskauppoja, kuten
Kesko ja S-ketju.
Jo nyt media on raportoinut hienoista tuloksista muovikassien ja -pussien
vähentämisessä. Mutta mitä hyötyä yritykset kokevat saavansa tällaisesta
sopimuksesta ja miten kuluttaja reagoi, kun hänen kassinsa maksaa tai sitä ei
olekaan saatavilla? Tästä ottivat selvää Hankenin gradunkirjoittajat Daniela
Karjalainen ja Theresia Lundberg.
Yritykset, jotka osallistuivat Karjalaisen ja Lundbergin tutkimuskyselyyn,
olivat sitä mieltä, että muovikassisopimuksen tekemisestä oli enemmän hyötyä
kuin haittaa. Kauppojen sitoumukset ovat kuitenkin hyvin erilaisia vaihdellen
työntekijöiden koulutuksesta muovikassien hinnoitteluun tai niiden poistamiseen
valikoimista kokonaan. Kaupat kokivat vapaaehtoisen sitoumuksen joustavuuden
merkittäväksi hyödyksi, ja sen avulla ne voivat välttää tiukempia lakeja.
Toinen tärkeä etu oli, että tiukan paikan tullen sitoumukseen voitiin
vedota. Osa yrityksistä oli saanut sitoumuksen myötä myönteistä julkisuutta,
osa taas ei. Muovikassien maksullisuus ei ollut niinkään tuonut taloudellisia
etuja vaan vähentänyt kassien sisäänostoja. Sitoumuksesta koettiin saatavan
hyötyä lähinnä asennemuutoksen myötä sekä madaltuneena kynnyksenä tehdä
vastaavia sitoumuksia myöhemminkin.
haitoiksi yritykset kokivat neuvotteluiden ja raportoinnin kustannukset. Koska kilpailijatkin lähtivät mukaan, sopimuksen allekirjoittamattomuus koettiin
riskinä, samoin kuin se, että jos mukaan ei lähdetä vapaaehtoisesti,
viranomaiset voivat säätää tiukempia lakeja. Vähemmän merkittävinä haittoina
koettiin liian matalat tavoitteet, tietovuotojen mahdollisuus sekä pitkäaikaisten
kannustinten puute. Yritysten ehdottomasti suurin huolenaihe oli asiakkaiden
mahdollinen kielteinen reaktio. Yritysten kokemat hyödyt ja riskit näkyvät koottuna
Kuva 2: Yritysten hyödyt ja riskit vapaaehtoisesta muovipussisopimuksesta
Miten kuluttajat sitten kokevat muovikassien
ja -pussien puuttumisen kaupoista? Eivät aina positiivisesti. Kuluttaja on
tapojensa orja ja hakee helppoa arkea usein unohtaen hyvät aikeensa. Kuluttajan
sosiaalinen ympäristö ja hänen identiteettinsä vaikuttavat siihen, poimiiko hän
muovipussin käteensä vai ei. Vierailla ihmisillä ei ole hänen valintaansa suurtakaan
merkitystä, mutta myyjät voivat vaikuttaa. Siksi on ollut tärkeää, että
vähittäiskaupat ovat kouluttaneet työntekijöitään kertomaan asiakkailleen
Tutuilla ihmisillä, kuten ystävillä,
sukulaisilla ja perheellä, on huomattavasti suurempi merkitys kuluttajan
valintoihin kuin täysin vierailla ihmisillä. Sosiaalinen ympäristö ja sen
osa-alueet vaikuttavat kuluttajan valintoihin, mutta on myös muita tekijöitä:
tavat, tunteet ja konkreettinen tieto. Muovikassin hinnalla voidaan vaikuttaa
sekä tapoihin että tunteisiin, mutta hinnalla saattaa olla myös negatiivinen
vaikutus. Kuluttaja kokee, että jos hän ostaa tuhannella eurolla tuotteita, hän
on oikeutettu ilmaiseen muovikassiin, on se sitten ympäristöystävällistä tai
Toisaalta muovikassi voisi olla niin ruma,
ettei kuluttaja kehtaisi ottaa sitä edes ilmaiseksi. Vaikka tietoa muovikassien
haitallisuudesta on ja internet pursuaa kuvia muovikasseihin kuolleista
merenelävistä, kuluttaja on tapojensa orja. Kassi tulee otettua mukaan kaupasta
ja kestokassi tai vanhanajan kauppakassi jää usein kotiin odottaman tapojen
muuttumista. Näitä kuluttajan kokemuksia kuvataan alla kuvassa 3.
Kuva 3: Tekijät, jotka vaikuttavat kuluttajan
institutions are proactively conducting research to inform us of fast-changing
trends due to the pandemic. Research results confirm that people have already changed
their shopping behavior in fundamental ways: stocking up on products they wouldn’t otherwise stock up on, purchasing
products they wouldn’t otherwise have purchased, shopping online when they
would usually shop in store, and shopping in new stores.
the crisis, we do our best to stay healthy, keep the social distance instructed
by the authorities, adapt our shopping habits and may try new brands, services
and products that are available in stock out situations. How lasting will this
change be? Are consumers going to go back to their normal routines after the
crisis, or will this have a permanent effect on purchase patterns and behavior
overall? Let’s see what information is available today to ease our headache!
What do sales data tell?
immediate short term changes in consumer behavior are evident, based on sales
statistics, and even visible to the eye while observing the empty shelves in
the grocery stores: People are stocking up on rice, pasta, porridge, bread, soap, minced meat and toilet paper.
In an uncertain situation facing social pressure, it is understandable to buy larger
amounts of groceries in preparation for home quarantine. According to AppAnnie
statistics, there has been strong growth in downloads of games, as consumers turn to mobile to stay entertained and pass the
time while under quarantine.
What do consumers say?
already national research results describing early signs how the shopping
behavior has changed and will change in the future. In China, consumers have
reported that their purchase of the following items has increased and will
increase even after the corona virus outbreak is over: epidemic prevention (air purifier, disinfectant, and masks), cosmetics,
drugs, food and beverage, household cleaning, medical/ life insurance, and
of the following items is estimated to increase after the outbreak: gym, hair salon/manicure,
personal care, out of home dining, out of home entertainment, travel, wealth
management and stocks. In contrast, after the outbreak consumption of luxury
items and online entertainment will decrease. New phenomena found were that people
have taken collaborative initiatives making group
orders with neighbors. On the
positive side, 84% of respondents have tried at least one new service for the
first time during the outbreak. These results are based on 1.000 respondents
nationwide in China, including 200 responses from the worst-hit Hubei Province in
February 2020 (Kantar[i]).
What do researchers predict?
Harvard Business School published some predictions on the 16th of March[ii]. Researchers are experts in their own fields and predictions of the impacts of COVID-19 vary. As experts in the public health and finance fields, Dr. Macomber and Dr. Allen predict that in the long term more money will be spent on fans, filters, ductwork, chillers, heat exchangers, and dehumidifiers—and on the energy to run them. He also thinks that information who enters the building and when is collected in the future with facial recognition and infrared cameras. He speculates further that time series data will be collected from your temperature and what was in the breaths you exhaled, captured over weeks and years. Air quality data is collected collectively from handheld sensors and sent to third-party rating databases via mobile phones. Sure, but if consumers know that this type of biometric data is collected automatically e.g. in certain hospitals, housing or even elevators in the future, it surely affects where consumers choose to go and not to go.
What do simulations tell?
Simulations on how
viruses spread provide estimates and visualizations that help us get a grasp of
how quickly the health situation can change affecting the whole society.
Similar simulations regarding changes in consumer behavior haven’t been
published yet. It may be difficult to build reliable predictive models or
simulations due to many uncertain factors as well as the fact that there is no historical
data on a global level of similar situations in the past. However, germ games
or other types of visualizations help us to discuss alternative futures. In
these uncertain times, scenarios can elicit imagination and may help us be
Keep your eyes and ears open!
We can all help by
observing and documenting weak signals of peculiar changes in the market. Now,
people are e.g. posting pictures of their toilet paper mountains in the social
media and creating new networks to support others. What do you think will be
the next thing or a change in human behavior that will have an impact when we
look back a few years from now? Hopefully understanding the reasons behind
conscious and even subconscious behavior will help us survive, support each
other, and become more robust to similar crisis situations, in the future.
Fiskars scissors, Moomin mugs and an Aalto vase? Maybe also striped towels from Marimekko and a stool with legs of bent plywood (be it Artek, or a replica). How about white kitchen cabinets, grey floor tiles in the bathroom, and one of those woven seagrass baskets, the ones with handles? A eucalyptus branch as decoration? The list continues, I keep on checking “yes, got it” item after item, amused at the realization that my home is indeed quite the cliché of Scandinavian modernism.
Such “Which of these items do you have in your
home” lists have been circulating in both social and traditional interior
decoration media. Apart from being just fun online tests, they also – in the
eyes of a consumer researcher – illuminate some intriguing consumption
phenomena. How come so many of us have all these same possessions in our homes?
Even when we think that we make unique and personal choices and devote time and
effort into making decisions about what we think looks good in our homes, the
outcomes are surprisingly conformist. Why is that?
As a researcher, I have been trying to
understand how we consume objects in the home through the concept of taste.
That is, how we make judgements about aesthetic objects, what we prefer and what
we find appropriate for a specific situation. What we find as tasteful versus
bad taste. But to understand consumption, should we settle with the thought
that “there is no accounting for taste”, that people’s tastes for consumption
objects are just different and subjective, and thus rather impossible for a marketer
Not according to sociologists and culturally oriented consumer researchers, who claim that taste is a product of socialization, a practice, and a way for us to express social distinction through what, and also how, we consume. For instance, interiors that consist of just the “right” items can be judged as impersonal and catalogue-like, if they are not skilfully spiced up with the occasional second hand bargain or other item giving just that right personal tough, signalling the consumer’s ability to constitute a carefully curated combination of décor resources.
The social nature of taste practice is
particularly visible in today’s media landscape where taste is to a lesser
extent than before dictated by cultural authorities such as traditional
lifestyle media like interior decoration magazines. Rather, various online
platforms (Instagram, Pinterest, blogs and Facebook groups to name a few) have
changed the field of taste-making, influence and persuasion, and allowed for
the emergence of different taste regimes. Within such regimes, a specific
aesthetic orientation – such as “Scandinavian modernism” I mentioned in the
beginning, becomes collectively negotiated and reproduced by its members, through
their choices of material objects for their homes (the “must have” products),
in their doings (the ways to combine objects), and in the meanings they assign
Having done netnographic research of such consumption practices, one of the interesting things has been to notice how members often explicitly negotiate what “belongs” within the interior décor style in question and what doesn’t, which seems to support the theoretical idea of taste indeed being a social practice, where symbolic boundaries determine who does and does not belong to a group or class. For instance, if members post pictures from their homes with elements that are less aligned with the general understanding of Scandinavian modernism, like more colourful or decorative elements, the posters oftentimes do this in an almost apologetic manner (“This is not very Scandi-modern, but…) and at times, if members express willingness to sometimes see pictures of “something else than these white homes”, they may be hinted towards other aesthetic communities, such as groups for retro style decorators. In this sense, these ongoing and social taste practices give rise to very distinct market segments of home décor and furniture customers. And understanding these in sufficient depth is crucial knowledge for the marketing manager in this field.
Arsel, Z., & Bean,
J. (2013). Taste regimes and market-mediated practice. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(5),
Arsel, Z., & Bean,
J. (2018). Social distinction and the practice of taste. In Arnould, E.A. &
Thompson, C.J. (Eds) Consumer Culture Theory.
Syrjälä, H., & Norrgrann, A. (2019). “When your dog matches your decor” Object agency of living and non-living entities in home assemblage. Consumer Culture Theory (Research in Consumer Behavior, Volume 20). Emerald Publishing Limited, 39-54.
Our online activity is evolving and new
forms of social media and online communication and interaction are constantly
developing. Recent trends include, for example, continued growth of messaging
platforms, the rise of augmented and virtual reality, TikTok’s rising
popularity among Gen Z users, and increasing social (media) commerce. So, a lot
of new exciting things are happening all across the Web. There is one type of
online space, however, that seems to be largely forgotten: the traditional
Internet forums, or online message boards, have
been around as long as the World Wide Web itself, but have seen a decline in
popularity over the last decade or so. The main reason is of course the rise of
social media. Much of the discussions online around shared interests, topics,
or questions are now taking place on, for example, Facebook. So, why bother
about Internet forums? Well, I think a lot of interesting stuff is still
happening on the traditional Internet forums. In fact, I think many online
message boards offer things to people that social media cannot, or at least
Compared to social media, Internet forums
typically have a superior level of organization, structure, searchability, continuity
and last but not least, anonymity. And all these characteristics of the
Internet forum can be really helpful and valuable for anybody in search of
information about, or an interest to discuss, a certain topic or question. Some
Internet forums have evolved into encyclopaedias of collected wisdom and
knowledge and stretch as far back in time as 20 years. These forums also
continue to be gold mines for marketing researchers and companies trying to
understand consumers’ opinions, preferences, activities, and experiences.
A great example of an Internet forum that still
sees a lot of activity is MacRumors. MacRumors has a very active community of
Apple users that discuss everything from purchasing decisions to technical
aspects across the entire array of Apple products. This particular forum has
been around since 2000 and also features a great archive of old discussion threads.
It is interesting to go back and read these old discussions and see, for
example, how wrong initial consumer reactions can be.
As many of you might know, Steve Jobs
introduction of the iPod in 2001 not only saved Apple from bankruptcy, but also
set the company on a trajectory towards becoming the consumer electronics giant
we know today. However, in a thread labelled “Apple’s New Thing (iPod)” a few loyal
Apple fanboys of the day were quite sceptical of this new product:
“This isn’t revolutionary!
I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about an MP3 player? I want something new! I want them to think differently!
Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!” – WeezerX80, posted October 23, 2001
“No ***** Way
All that hype for an MP3 player? Break-thru digital device? The Reality Distortion Field is starting to warp Steve’s mind if he thinks for one second that this thing is gonna take off.” – nobody special, posted October 23, 2001
Of course, there were also a few positive
reactions in the same discussion thread of the forum:
“not that disappointing
The reason why everyone’s disappointed is because we had our hopes up for this incredible device that would do everything you could possibly use the word “digital” in and most of the things you can’t. The truth is that is really is revolutionary. 5 gigs? Where do you see 5 gigs in an Mp3 player?
If Apple had gone with something completely and utterly new, it would probably go down the hole that the cube and the newton went down… they were ahead of their time, and suffered because of it. Apple can’t have another disaster like the Cube, so they decided to stay just a bit ahead of the game. As long as apple markets it effectively, I think it’s gonna do really well.
The product really looks great, give it a chance guys!” – greatm31, posted October 23, 2001
“Wow! Great Job Apple!
This is not like any other MP3 player on the market, imagine being able to store several days worth of music at once! The iPod will be great for travelers, students, heck anyone who is really into music.” – schmoe, posted October 23, 2001
Now, the really exciting thing is that we
could, in the same way, backtrack the buzz and customer sentiment on this forum
following literally every product launch made by Apple since 2000. It might not
give us insights as to which products will fail or succeed in the future, but
could definitely further our understanding of topics such as customer loyalty, e-word-of-mouth
(WOM), customer feedback, customer acceptance of innovations, customer buying behaviour,
customer engagement, customer perceptions, emotions and attitudes. Internet
forums in their traditional forms might slowly be dying, but they arguable
still have a lot to offer to observant marketing and consumer researchers.
It is a rainy Friday morning in January, with heavy grey skies. The wind rips my clothes and the rain feels like needles against my face. It is one of those days you’d rather not have gone out at all. I am on my way to a business meeting, and I‘ve got a few minutes to spare. What to do?
Conveniently, there is a
café just around the corner. Their ad board by the entrance stating their
promise catches my eye: “With us, Friday feels a bun crumb better off”. I
wonder what it means, but at least there is a promise of a Friday feeling embedded. Cosy and homey comes to my mind.
Weekend … Friday! The best
day of the week. A Friday promise always feels nice. Surely, I am worth a bun!
It is Friday after all, and the workweek is almost done. Early weekend celebration.
And I’ve got time. I step inside and immediately sense a nice and warm
atmosphere. I feel instantly better. Maybe a bun crumb better off. Lounge music
is playing quietly and some of the customers are working with their laptops,
while sipping their coffees and munching on their … Friday buns.
The employee at the counter
greets me friendly, and smiles. “Would you like to start your weekend with a
nice cinnamon bun,” she asks me and chitchats something nice about the (awful)
weather. A cosy vibe settles over me. I go for the bun. Indeed, now I feel many
bun crumbs better off than a few minutes ago. Clearly, the café has done their
promise gym. The employee knows what she is doing. Says and dos are aligned.
That is not always the
case. On a daily basis, we as customers are targeted by a myriad of promises
companies make. Brand promises, service promises, sustainability promises… The
list is long. All these promises that more often than not fail to be kept. Unfortunately,
research shows that this is the name of the contemporary marketing game. And of
course, as marketers we know that marketing is, among other things, about
making promises. But, also about keeping them, and in practice that is often
the tough part.
Promises are often fuzzy
and vague. Such as: “The best service in the field,“ innovative service
solutions” or “better than our competitors”. What we as customers expect, based
on these promises, varies but research shows that customers expect that
companies live up to what they promise. Today companies overpromise
heavily. I had a good Friday bun experience. I felt many bun crumbs better
off afterwards. Even if my expectation at first was fuzzy, my experience became
exact to the bun crumb point better off.
Research shows that employees want to deliver service that is aligned
with what the firm promises. Imagine yourself in the role of an employee. What does the best
service in the field really mean? How am I to keep a promise
that feels unclear, confusing or fuzzy to myself? Promises of the
fuzzy kind do seldom motivate employees to perform accordingly: In my case the
employee clearly did know how to contribute to my experience. Plus, she seemed motivated and happy. This
made me feel many bun crumbs better off.
Research shows that employees want authentic, honest and keepable promises.
Research shows that employees
want authentic, honest and keepable promises. Employees prefer promises that
describe actual activities and atmospheres in customer interaction. Research also
shows that employees want to participate in promise design. This does, in their
view, ensure authentic promises that are aligned with service activities and
vibes, such as being a bun crumb better off. At best, employee co-active
participation in promise design will result in promises that have an authentic
energy embedded. Promises that communicate the actual feelings and vibes companies
want to expose to their customers.
I have been chewing this “bun
crumb better off” promise quite a bit and have come to the conclusion that it
is a nice, small and indeed a rather precise promise. In its fuzziness and smallness. A promise the
employee seemed motivated to live up to.
If you are
interested to know more about employees’ motivation to align with promises and
value propositions, please read our article: Liewendahl, H.E., and Heinonen, K., “Frontline Employees’
Motivation to Align with Value Proposition” in Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, ISSN:
0885-8624, Publication date: 13 February 2020.
“The easier it is to quantify, the less it’s
worth” – Seth Godin
spend a day without your phone, or would you be less smart without techy
gadgets, maybe less capable?
certainly has limits in holding information and in representing reality with restricted
sensory inputs and processing capabilities.
technology certainly extends our abilities and reflects important scientific
advances when assisting us in better discerning cause and effect and in supporting
way it works is through the seamless generation, combination and processing of
new information. But just as the brain is constrained by its capacity to sense
and process information, our technological artefacts are similarly limited by
the type of information generated as well as the processing logics they are
The following portrays some criticism of information technology, specifically focusing on the ‘datafication’ of our experiences and the algorithmic representation of phenomena. The idea is not to paint a sombre picture but to help maintain course in rapid socio-technical evolution.
do the digital tentacles capture all corners of our society?
technologies such as AI, IoT, machine learning, robotics and automated systems
promise to deliver on efficiency and responsiveness, but it looks like they
might be further exacerbating the “unequal distribution of digital benefits in
their design and implementation” (Park & Humphry, 2019, p. 935).
only that access to digital services is largely intertwined with socio-economic
status, but service providers often lean towards relatively normative and
simplified user responses when training their algorithms, with AI-learning
often being skewed towards the majority (Park & Humphry, 2019).
then be comfortable with AI solutions doing things like screening applications
for jobs, for bank loans or insurance?
extent can or does data depict an accurate representation of existing
From a phenomenological perspective, no single
view can ever be complete, as the perception of a referent is altered by its
relationship to context and to juxtaposed voids. We can never enumerate all possible views, but we can’t design with a singular viewpoint in
& Parmiggiani (2019) demonstrate the limits of what they call ‘synthetic
knowing’ with a longitudinal case study of digitally-rendered
environmental monitoring by an oil and gas company operating in the politically
contested Arctic. They reveal how knowing is politically charged, and how
sensors and algorithms increasingly represent phenomenological reality,
‘configurable’ to the guise of profit-making stakeholders.
liquification into digital materiality, real-time knowing can become an
algorithmic phenomenon, and the debate is ongoing on whether enough credibility
is warranted to base consequential decisions on.
algorithmic representation of people and environments may constrain the intelligence
of our services and decision-making, but there is a close corollary when it
comes to how we personally construct our daily experiences, particularly when
dealing with digital representations of our own selves.
of ‘datafication’ of the self is found in the context of self-tracking
technologies such as fitness apps and smart wearables which abound in a growing
‘healthist’ culture, both in the private and organizational domains.
Measurement of activities like running or leisure time, and measurement of internal states such as cardiovascular performance, sleep, caloric intake, stress, etc., is meant to support users in monitoring, managing, and achieving desired performance levels.
What are possible implications of having a ‘quantified self’ on the definition of self, and consequently, on one’s lived experience?
side of the discourse reports feelings of empowerment and control, growing
self-awareness, as well as initial spikes in interest and engagement.
Kristensen & Ruckenstein (2018) point out that initial intensification of
experience, feelings of liberation, and developed inner sensitivity may later
become limiting in terms of self-experience. Of the reasons proposed is the
notion of amplification that the data may bring to certain aspects of
the self at the expense of others.
augmented or a reduced experience?
What are possible implications of having a ‘quantified self’ on the definition of self, and consequently, on one’s lived experience?
psychoanalytic perspective, Andrieu (2015) argues that the ontological
discontinuity between the ‘living person’, the ‘living person as reflected by
the data’ (i.e. the quantified self), and the ‘lived experience’, reflects a
distinction between 3 levels of self-knowledge.
transformation by ‘normal’ knowing of oneself, technology-mediated
self-transformation doesn’t take place only through self-examination by one’s
consciousness. It happens via a ‘confrontation’ between one’s lived self and
the data reflected by tracking technology.
indeed poses some pertinent questions on whether this is a new form of
‘bio-power’, or a mode of subjectivation (i.e. a redefinition of the self); is
it the ‘living self’ that is reflected, or the ‘living self as transformed by
the digital self’?
illustrate, well-being, which was once qualitative and in a way,
non-communicable, becomes numeric and translatable under the illusion of
correspondence between one’s lived physical condition and the digital self – is
it then one’s felt well-being, or is it one’s
Like the above-mentioned
limitations of datafication in our services, ‘algorithms of the skin’ and a
particular ‘bio-pedagogy’ further reinforce certain desirable profiles of
health and physical education (Ardieu, 2015). Here, the consequences relate to how
we perceive and manage our bodies and lifestyles, in addition to the recurring concern
of people having access to the resources needed to perform up to measure.
nutshell, technological dependence may compromise the self-governance of one’s
This runs counter
to the ethos of ‘embodied experience’ where we must learn to rediscover our experiences
through a more holistic integration of mind, body and emotion.
In a world of constant distraction, we are
easily alienated from ourselves. It is no surprise that we end up serving other
people’s agendas, working tirelessly like a cog in a machine (Godin, 2010).
But ‘living by the numbers’ can be
counterbalanced by ‘living with the numbers’ in what Pantzar &
Ruckenstein (2017) optimistically describe as a milieu of open-endedness and
In concluding, it is advisable to be attuned,
even wary, of the man-made things that mediate between the world and our
Technology can be fascinating in augmenting
our ability to internalize the world, and to externalize the mind. But we need
to find that sweet spot in our quest for optimization, to make sure it doesn’t
over-rationalize our institutions.
The application round for PhD studies at Hanken
is now open, and closes on February 5th. If you are thinking of
applying, please first check out the official information at Hanken’s web site:
official information packages may get overwhelming at times, I would like to
provide an insider perspective from the Department of Marketing regarding what
it’s like to be a PhD student at Hanken.
I’m now in
my fourth, and hopefully final year of writing my dissertation. Since I started
the program directly after graduating with my MSc degree, many of my peers have
gone on to work in other kinds of jobs in the industry. Naturally, they are sometimes
curious about what my experience has been like as someone who stayed in
academia. On that note, I want to share my answers to some of the most
frequently asked questions I get. Hopefully, this will shed some light on PhD
student life (spoiler alert – it is
certainly different in comparison to MSc studies!). However, bear in mind that
my perspective might be a little bit different compared to students from other
What have been the best things about your work? In general, being part of a community of marketing scholars has been very inspiring. This includes not only my colleagues at Hanken, but also members of the international community, as I have attended a few conferences within my research domain. Conference travel has been a great way to meet likeminded people, getting a glimpse of the latest research within the field and getting the opportunity to travel abroad a couple of times a year.
What has been the most challenging thing for you? This may be an obvious answer, but research itself brings the biggest challenges in my opinion, since the review processes for scientific article manuscripts are surprisingly time consuming. Once a paper is submitted, or even accepted for review by a scientific journal, it is far from finished and being published. In the worst-case scenario, getting a paper published may take years. So far, I have experienced the thrill of having papers accepted for review but have also had to deal with papers not being selected, which does happen to most academics at some point.
Where do you work physically? I don’t work in the main university building, since the Department of Marketing is in a separate building next to it called Arkadia. For me, this was a welcome change when I started three years ago, since I had spent most of my days in the main building during my BSc and MSc studies. We do have some meetings, seminars and courses in the main building, and there is also a student cafeteria offering an affordable lunch every day. Working from home is possible on occasion, which I find helpful when I want to concentrate on writing.
Is teaching included in your work? At Hanken, up to 5% of the work may include teaching assistance, which I have enjoyed a lot as a contrast to research. In my case, the work has included guest lecturing about my thesis topic, supervising BSc and MSc students writing their theses, as well as grading exams and other coursework.
How are you paid for the work you do? Hanken currently offers a 2-year employment contract for full-time PhD students – that is, half of the typical 4-year process. Since I am beyond that timeframe already, I have been granted financial support from external foundations (in my specific case, the Marcus Wallenberg Foundation and the Foundation of Economic Education – but there are multiple options depending on the research field in which one works). Hence, an important part of the PhD process here is to apply for funding for completing the thesis. Hanken has, thankfully, provided support for how to write funding applications, and from my experience, it was a lot less scary or difficult than what it seemed like at first. The greatest challenge for me was to learn how to write about research in a way that non-academics may resonate with.
I hope my
perspective gives some new insight for those wishing to apply to Hanken’s PhD programme,
or those who are curious about PhD studies in general. I would be happy to
answer any additional questions from those who are curious.
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and
working together is success.” This quote supposedly coined by Henry
Ford has never been truer than what it is today. The greater the challenge,
the bigger the need for multi-disciplinary collaboration. President Kennedy
famously initiated Project Apollo not only because of the American
ideological and geopolitical race against the Soviets but also because he
wanted to create a national project so big, that it could only be solved
through seamless cooperation of a vast amount of organizations and brilliant
minds from across society. Some years later, 1969, man landed on the Moon (and
got back safely) and in the process of this human spaceflight program emerged a
number of life-changing unintended innovations, such as water purification,
breathing masks, polymer fabric, and cordless devices.
Today, ecosystems, platforms, collaboration, and network effects are some
of the key words on the lips of researchers and practitioners alike globally.
While the forms and stakeholders involved in business ecosystems are likely to
be different, it is generally recognized that networking across disciplines and
sectors is needed for innovation and future business
resilience. Although they all have their own specific roles to play, the
lines between businesses, public sector institutions, and third-sector
organizations are blurring and all stakeholders including higher education are
increasingly positioning themselves as part of society.
Organizations are no longer only comparing themselves in relation to
their respective competitive environments. Many argue that we are
witnessing the dawn of a new era in the interaction between businesses and
their stakeholders and societies. The list of examples is long and growing: the
Financial Times initiative to redefine capitalism; the Business
Roundtable stance on the roles of companies in relation to their stakeholders;
the European Commission initiated University Business Cooperation programs to
foster societal innovation and entrepreneurship; the Science Based Targets
Initiative developed by the UN and citizen organisations to support companies
in their emission reduction pledges.
It is generally recognized that networking across disciplines and sectors is needed for innovation and future business resilience.
New markets and business platforms emerge as a reaction to this new
era and are powered by opportunities provided by digitalization and scalable
technologies. This development is driving all organizations to
rethink their strategies and visions through strategic partnerships. As a
consequence, we are witnessing closer collaboration between business and
academic stakeholders. Companies are turning to universities for crowdsourcing
and innovation ventures together with multidisciplinary research teams. Similarly,
researchers and scientists are looking for relevance in their research and
access to in-depth market data.
A recent EU-funded project indicated that university-business collaboration initiatives foster the strategic mission of universities; provide a closer connection between education, research and innovation; respond to the evolving needs of the labour market; improve the quality of human resources, and facilitate the flow of knowledge transfer from universities to companies, regions and society at large. My own collaboration with large companies and research centres in Finland such as the KONE Corporate, Fiskars Group and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland support these findings. As Senator Fulbright – the initiator of the Fulbright program for international exchange – put it: “Of all the joint ventures in which we might engage, the most productive, in my view, is educational exchange”. Being a Fulbright alumnus myself from the University of Massachusetts, I can certainly concur with the importance of educational exchange between different, sometimes unplanned connections.
50 years after Apollo we are again confronted with a daunting task –
combat the effects of climate change, and rethink and redesign the ways in
which we go about our daily lives. This can only be done by mimicking the
collaborative and concentrated efforts five decades ago. Successful innovators
ask new kinds of questions, seek actively for new types of collaboration forms,
and look broadly for new forms of impact. Curious and
collaboration-seeking researchers and business leaders will play a pivotal role
in the change ahead.
My best collaboration wishes for the New Year and many inspiring new
time of the year again – when we are about to take a break and spend a hopefully
relaxing and energy-charging Christmas holiday with those closest and dearest
to us. It’s also the time of the year when we can make sound choices with what
we give to others, wish from others for ourselves, what we choose to do and where,
what we eat, etc. Now it is truly the time to deliberate and make smart sustainable
choices to prioritise quality, authentic, local, and personalised options.
At the core here is being
aware of our habits – breaking those that are not sustainable and adopting
those that are. Let me remind you of the classic R’s of sustainability that can
help to identify what habits you could have more, in the new year. Reconsider if you really need the stuff
you are considering to get, Reduce
the stuff you have and believe you need, Reuse
and Recycle to avoid single use items and sort, Replenishand Refill whenever
possible, Rethink before you buy
stuff for you and others, Replant,Restore and Recover to avoid causing
damage to the world, Rot i.e. compost
food waste, Reinvent to engage in divergent/out-of-the-box
thinking and view your actions from different perspectives, and
Respect the world and ecosystem
around us and think about any effects your actions might have. I am sure that
we all can do more at least of Reconsidering,Reducing, Restoring and Respecting,
in the coming year.
What I am sure that we also in the new year could strive for is a healthy work-life balance.
What I am
sure that we also in the new year could strive for is a healthy work-life
balance. Wouldn’t it be nice to continue or finally achieve a sound balance between
personal life, professional life, and family life? For many of
us that would mean devoting more time in the new year to the things that in the
end matter the most. It would basically mean living a simpler life with fewer
belongings, having shorter work hours, stronger relationships and more social
interactions, spending less and consciously, and choosing products that are
practical, well made, and environmentally friendly.
Now there is
an excellent opportunity to start doing some or all of the above in case you up
until now mainly have been just thinking about them. Choose what youwant
to do, keep the good reasons in mind, be realistic and start with smaller
steps, think about potential obstacles in advance and come up with solutions
for how to deal with them, talk about your new habits with others, learn more,
and if you experience a setback, then try again. Remember, you are not only
sustainable and climate smart, but you will also introduce possibilities and
time for new experiences and improve the quality of your life in 2020.
CERS friends a Magical Holiday Season and a Wonderful New Year 2020!
If you want
to read more and for information on what websites I used please see for example: