Managing a Market-orientation in Government

Examples from Tony Blair and Helen Clark

Authored by: Jennifer Lees-Marshment

Routledge Handbook of Political Management

Print publication date:  August  2008
Online publication date:  March  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415962254
eBook ISBN: 9780203892138
Adobe ISBN: 9781135897499


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One of the basic principles of marketing is that organizations should be responsive to market demand; in other words, be market-oriented. Political marketing is no different. Political party leaders or candidates who want to win control of government often try to be, or at least appear to be, in touch with the public; making significant use of public opinion research and strategic consultants. Tony Blair in the UK won a landslide election in 1997 with his New Labour design arguably because of his ability to convey market-oriented behavior. However in government Blair faced challenges in maintaining his responsive image, as have other leaders who copied his strategies, such as the prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark. This chapter will explore what leaders can do to maintain or re-gain a market-orientation, by examining tools and techniques used by Blair and Clark in their later terms of office. The focus will be empirical, because although there is a significant body of commercial marketing literature addressing the nature, antecedents and strategies for implementing and no doubt maintaining a market-orientation, political marketing literature has not as yet addressed this issue, but we can learn from practice and consider these examples when developing new theoretical frameworks in further research.1

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