Journal of Business Ethics
Writing in Business and Politics, Santos and Laczniak (Business and Politics 14(1) 2012) formulated a normative, ethical approach to be followed when marketers e ngage impoverished market segments. It is labeled the integrative justice model (IJM). As noted below, that approach called for authentic engagement, co-creation, and customer interest representation, among other elements, when transacting with vulnerable market segments. Basically, the IJM derived certain operational virtues, implied by moral philosophy, to be used when marketing to the poor. But this well-intentioned approach raises a significant “So what?” question. Are such sentiments anything but lofty aspirations for idealists or are there steps to be taken by society and business managers of goodwill to make the adaptation of the IJM by corporations more likely and pragmatic? This paper begins to layout a roadmap that shows “how and why” the IJM might more likely be vitalized. The crux, as described below, is found in the transformational justice dimensions that are embedded in institutions (and supporting institutional arrangements); such external institutions provide a “power” impetus to assure the ethical rights claims that impoverished consumers have owed to them. In this way, the ideal exchange characteristics for bottom (or base) of the pyramid (BoP) markets argued for in the IJM can become actively transformational. The main contribution of this paper is that it begins to chart out the institutional system elements that need to exercise power in order to deliver a “fairer” marketplace for BoP consumers.