A Social Marketing Partnership Framework: An Extension of Morgan and Hunt’s (1994) Commitment - Trust Key Mediating Variable Model
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The type of transformational change needed to address the complex and wicked issues that permeate today's society cannot be facilitated without the adoption of multi-sectoral social marketing partnerships. This research, undertaken in the field of public health, identifies the challenges faced by social marketers when embarking on a partnership approach to social change. A dynamic solution is presented through the conceptualisation of the social marketing partnership entity. As no theoretical definition of social marketing partnerships currently exists, the identification of key social marketing partnership characteristics became a central outcome of this research. Through the extension of Morgan and Hunt's (1994) Key Mediating Variable (KMV) model a social marketing partnership framework was developed which infused the social marketing and relational marketing paradigms. Trust and commitment are identified as central to the development of sophisticated social marketing partnerships, their presence acting as precursors for long term cooperation. The role of three additional constructs in the social marketing partnership process were intensified, namely shared values, communication of expectations and cooperation. This research contributes to an understanding of the skills required to strategically select, evaluate and maintain sustainable social marketing partnerships for social innovation in Irish society when addressing wicked issues. The type of systemic change needed calls for a long term visionary approach working across departmental, organisational and sector boundaries, and therefore is enhanced through the existence of this social marketing partnership framework. These skills enable managers to broaden the pool of potential partners related to the social marketing issue whilst differentiating between stakeholders. From a strategic transformational perspective, this social marketing partnership framework also offers guidance on how to co-build structures and institutional rules, enabling access, engaging people and exemplifying desired changes.