Creative Research from Mai Khanh Tran

Increasingly we are asked to present our research in innovative, creative and accessible ways and Mai Khanh Tran (Mika), one of our PhD students has done just that.  Mika is not just a talented researcher but her contribution in Birmingham Museum’s ‘Images of Research’ exhibition showcase her artistic talent.  She first submitted the Innovation Ecosystem in 2015 and followed this up with being placed as the winning runner up in 2016 with Composer of Ideas.  Below you can find art work as well as a short paper to support the images.  We look forward to seeing what Mika will produce in 2017!



AUTHOR: Mai Khanh TRAN (Mika)


Images of Research Exhibition is an annual event for postgraduate researchers in University of Birmingham to capture their entire research project in one image. Organised in Birmingham Museum and Arts Gallery, this event has opened a venue for Art meets Research and engagins a public audience. Works are displayed amongst an internationally important art collection and entries to the event will then tour around the city, such as being displayed in Thinktank Birmingham Science Museum or The Library of Birmingham. The images are also disseminated in digital forms as some can be found in magazines including National Geographic and Slovenian Bird Life. As a unique way to upgrade profile of researchers, this event is also a big challenge to the researchers in terms of creativity and capability to transform their academic knowledge into visual material accessed by bib-specialists. Participants are encouraged to be inventive and creative as they want with their entries’ forms. The image can be created from various approaches, from a photograph representative of their works, a depiction of data extracted from the research, or an artwork of their own creation.

Joining the Images of Research Exhibition 2015, the author has submitted a freehand sketch illustrating a collaborative innovation environment in product innovation. Using the structure of the Earth and ecosystem analogy, the author transfers the concept of Innovation ecosystem and its importance in expanding sources of development. The innovation ecosystem also highlights the complexity and necessity of different actors and the interactions between them in aiding the firms in achieving innovation purpose.



innovation ecosystem

Sketching the image, the author placed the firm seeking for product innovation as the inner core of the Earth, covered by the crust constituted by different co-creator groups. Customers can be found as the dominant component in the image to highlight their pivotal roles in innovation for many reasons. First, customers are known for their contribution in inventing radical product innovation and generating improvements for new product development (NPD). This can be found in a record of the primary role of customers in 82% of major functional improvements in scientific instruments, 85% major pultrusion-processing machinery innovation (von Hippel, 1999) and other product improvements in various industries, from medical to consumer products. Second, extant research has suggested that deeply integrating customers into innovation process could decrease the failure rate (Piller & Lindgens, 2011). Third, the evaluation of a product or service innovation relies on how customers evaluate its attributes with certain use purposes and situations in mind (Vandecasteele & Geuens, 2010; Gardial, et al., 1994). With this respect, an innovation is perceived to be successful and meaningful only when they are adopted by consumers (Hetet et al., 2014). The emergence of NPD literature has witnessed the shift of notions of innovation towards a customer-centric approach. If traditional viewpoint classifies innovation into radical and incremental stages (Cooper, 1998), recent studies have shown a broader perspective with commercially attractive innovation, positive societal impact, or technology dependency (Schweizer et al., 2014; Garcia & Calantone, 2011). Whilst the term innovation is deemed notoriously ambiguous, the current approach focuses on the core value of NPD, which is helping customers pursue a better quality of life and adding value to customers (Lee et al., 2012, O’Sullivan & Dooley, 2008). This has construed the notions of user-friendly and user-experience enhancement in product innovation.

Emphasising the role of customers as a critical group in the innovation ecosystem, the image also depicts them with different portraits. This stems from the author’s epistemology of the heterogeneity of customers in co-creating values differently in an innovation process. Besides theories explaining customers in their co-creation activities based on their lead-user characteristics (Piller et al., 2011, von Hippel, 1986) or high expertise in technology (Hoffman et al., 2010; de Bont & Schoormans, 1995), recent studies have proposed using personality traits as a theoretical lens to gain insight of the customer co-creation in NPD literature (Stock et al., 2014; Boeddrich, 2004). To respond to their call for empirical research, the author contends that the types of new product will be suggested by types of idea owners and each personality traits can be pertinent for different co-creation activities. The Big Five theory with five personality traits, as depicted in the image, has become the main body of knowledge which is deployed in conducting the research.

The image of the author’s research can still be accessed through the page of Birmingham Museum and Arts Gallery as one of the exemplified images in 2015. After the exhibition event, the idea has been further improved and brought the author to other conferences of Innovation management and Marketing, where her research proposal was accumulatively polished. The objective of research is expected to be achieved through ethnographic study to fully explain the customers’ behaviours and performance during a collaboration process. Findings are aimed to bring contributions in stimulating new ways of thinking of a ‘customer journey’ and innovation notions. In addition, established mind-set of customers’ competence will be challenged to open venue for further research, such as leveraging customers’ creativity and bringing “human flourishing” whilst joining innovation project.


The image can be accessed via this link:



Boeddrich, H. J. (2004). Ideas in the workplace: a new approach towards organizing the fuzzy front end of the innovation process. Creativity and innovation management13(4), 274-285.

Cooper, J.R. (1998), “A multidimensional approach to the adoption of innovation”, Management Decision, 36 (8): 493-502

de Bont, C.J.P.M. and Schoormans, J.P.L. (1995) The Effects of Product Expertise on Consumer Evaluations of New-Product Concepts. Journal of Economic Psychology, 16: 599–615.

Donna L. Hoffman, Praveen K. Kopalle, Thomas P. Novak (2010) The “Right” Consumers for Better Concepts: Identifying Consumers High in Emergent Nature to Develop New Product Concepts. Journal of Marketing Research: October 2010, Vol. 47, No. 5, pp. 854-865.

Gardial, Sarah Fisher, Scott Clemons, D., Woodruff, Robert B., Schumann, David W., & Burns, Mary Jane (1994). Comparing consumers recall of prepurchase and postpurchase product evaluation experiences. Journal of Consumer Research, 20, 548−560 (March).

Hetet.B, Jean, M., and Jean-pierre, M. (2014). A better understanding of consumer’s perception of an innovative brand through perceived novelty. [Access at]

Lee, S. M., Olson, D. L., & Trimi, S. (2012). Co-innovation: convergenomics, collaboration, and co-creation for organizational values. Management Decision,50(5), 817-831.

O’Sullivan, D., & Dooley, L. (2008). Applying innovation. Sage publications.

Piller, F. T., Ihl, C., & Vossen, A. (2010). A typology of customer co-creation in the innovation process. Available at SSRN 1732127.

Piller, F., Ihl, C., & Vossen, A. (2011). Customer co-creation: Open innovation with customers. Wittke, V./Hanekop, H, 31-63.

Stock, Ruth M., Eric A. Von Hippel, and Schnarr, L. (2014). Impacts of Personality Traits on User Innovation Success.” Available at SSRN 2467152.

Schweitzer, F., Gassmann, O., & Rau, C. (2014). Lessons from Ideation: Where Does User Involvement Lead Us? Creativity and Innovation Management23(2), 155-167.

Vandecasteele, Bert, & Geuens, Maggie (2010). Motivated consumer innovativeness: Concept, measurement, and validation. International Journal of Research in Marketing, 27(4), 308−318.

Von Hippel, E. (1986). Lead users: a source of novel product concepts. Management science32(7): 791-805.

Von Hippel, E., Thomke, S., & Sonnack, M. (1999). Creating breakthroughs at 3M. Harvard Business review, 77: 47-57.




AUTHOR: Mai Khanh TRAN (Mika)


People have predominantly seen art and science with strict binary divisions viewing “art on one hand and science on the other”. However, this perspective has been recently challenged by the shift of study of the interplay between art and science within the field of marketing. Therefore, in February 2016, I participated in the fourth Arts & Science festival by University of Birmingham and won a prize with an art submission related to my research.

Designed as a week-long celebration of research, culture and collaboration, the event “brings together leading artists, thinkers and scientists for a free programme of concerts, exhibitions, performances, screenings, talks and workshops” ( This time, the organisers highlighted the “art meets science” phenomenon through a string of collaborative events including: VIVID PROJECTS which presented the culmination of a two year collaboration between six leading biomedical scientists and six animation artists; THE NEUTRINO PASSOIRE transferred the discovery of neutrino oscillations, which won 2015 Nobel prize in Physics, to non-specialist audience with performance by two contemporary dancers; or PERMISSION TAKEN exhibition by artist Antonio Roberts brought together digital technology, copyright issues, and the university’s own collections. Apart from that, the festival opened the Image of research exhibition to invite researchers present their works through a single image. I have submitted my hand-sketch “The composer of ideas” to communicate my research message to the audience. The hand drawn picture captured a pianist playing her chords, releasing the notes floating in the air, transmitting to the brain neurons, then sparking hundreds of idea bubbles. When some of the ideas grew brighter and bigger through the connection with each other, a few aborted. This was an ordinary process of idea generation and development.

Interested in product innovation and unconventional emergence of inter-disciplines, I am conducting research on adopting a musical mind in generating ideas for new products and services. Whilst new ideas are critical in distinguishing a genuine product from copy-cats, the journey of creativity is not so clear cut and new recipe of novel ideas is unfound. Research on music composition, on the contrary, has provided valuable findings including pathway of idea development and positive psychological impact of music on creativity. By immersing myself into real project initiated by renowned organisations, one is a city symphony orchestra and the other is a world leading technology corporation, I develop my research to see how blending aesthetic and technological expertise can enhance the journey of idea development, spark new ideas, and offer intrinsic values for consumers. This ongoing study is expected to enhance personal creative minds and assist each person to be a composer of ideas.


The composer of idea


The image can also be found in the online catalogue accessed via this link:

A busy week in May…

May was an exciting month for the Department of Marketing as we played host to Professor Minette E. Drumwright and Professor HW Perry, from University of Texas, Austin. During their visit they took part in a number of research activities.

Professor Drumwright presented her recent Consumption, Markets and Culture paper; Habitus, doxa, and ethics: insights from advertising in emerging markets in the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Sara Kamal.


Abstract: The advertising industry influences culture through its pervasive messages that reflect and shape culture and through the role that advertising practitioners play as cultural intermediaries. As such, the manner in which advertising practitioners confront ethical issues is important. Drawing on Bourdieu’s theory of practice, this paper examines how the perceptions, practices, and discourses of advertising practitioners in the Middle East and North Africa influence the advertising field’s habitus and doxa. It demonstrates that understanding ethical problems is enhanced by examining them as macro, meso, and micro phenomena. However, that is not enough. Understanding how factors at the three levels interrelate, interact, and reinforce one another is critical to understanding the habitus. Underlying biases that shape the doxa can be explained by ideas central to behavioral ethics. A better understanding of the forces that shape the habitus and doxa with respect to ethics is key to moving toward a culture that encourages ethical advertising practices.

Keywords: advertising; Bourdieu; doxa; emerging markets; ethics; habitus; marketing and society



Professor Drumwright also delivered an evening seminar on “Why Good People do Bad Things” which drew on her research on marketing ethics. This session was chaired by Dr. Finola Kerrigan and Professor N. Craig Smith acted as discussant.


Having looked outward to the marketing industry, the next event that week focused on life in the academy and Professor Drumwright and Professor Perry as well as UoB’s Professor Christina Goulding and Dr. Finola Kerrigan shared research insight and personal experiences of ‘Women in Academia’. This was a well attended session and reflected discussions heard at conferences from others in academia.


The following day saw the closing event of a busy and stimulating week with a timely discussion on Freedom of Speech and Hate Speech: American and European Perspectives when Professor H.W. Perry was joined by Dr. Mona Moufahim from Durham University. Professor Perry and Dr Moufahim drew on their extensive research on areas related to hate speech, far right politics and freedom of speech to provide a thought provoking insight into contemporary politics.

The various events that week provided welcome relief in a period dominated by exam marking and we were sad to say goodbye to our visitors!


Drinking properly: Encouraging Australians to do it!

Summer is always a busy time, despite what the general public thinks!  We were delighted to welcome leading social marketing scholars Dr Marie-Louise Fry from Griffith University and Dr Josephine Previte from University of Queensland in June for an engaging seminar on social marketing and alcohol consumption. This links to social marketing research undertaken by UoB colleagues Professor Isabelle Szmigin and Dr Sarah Forbes and provoked lively debate.

Current debates in public health and alcohol social change reveal an ideological schism dividing perspectives on the role of industry in alcohol reduction strategies. This seminar presents case study evidence from a recent review of DrinkWise Australia’s How to Drink Properly (HTDP) social change initiative. This intervention aims to position moderate drinking consumption in the minds of young Australians. The challenge confronting the acceptance of the HTDP intervention is that DrinkWise is a non-profit organisation funded by the alcohol industry, and its Board includes representatives from the alcohol industry alongside community and public health members.

DrinkWise Australia adopts social marketing as a strategy to create a safer, healthier drinking culture; specifically to change Australia’s drinking culture to one where getting drunk is considered unacceptable. The most recent DrinkWise campaign – How to Drink Properly (HTDP) – engages a national conversation around responsible (and irresponsible) drinking by seeking to shift young adults’ (18–24 years) perceptions of moderation as a socially desirable behaviour. Additionally, HTDP seeks to encourage young adults to reduce the frequency and intensity of binge drinking through an intervention that leverages unique aspects of social media. Using a social media strategy in a social marketing behavioural change approach is an ‘untested’ tactic. In this presentation we discuss insights into the challenges, barriers and successes of using social media to support moderate drinking social change and the role of industry in achieving alcohol social change. In concluding this presentation we open discussion about positioning moderate drinking as a credible consumption entity in the alcohol social change agenda.


Dr Marie-Louise Fry is based in the Centre for Social Marketing at Griffith University. Her research aims to reduce binge drinking among teenagers/young adultss via social marketing techniques. Her research has focused on symbolic consumption, advertising consumption and behavioural psychology within social marketing contexts. She is particularly interested in motivated reasoning for engaging in risky, as well as non-risky behaviour. She has published in the Journal of Business Research, Marketing Theory, Australasian Journal of Market & Social Research, Journal of Public Affairs, International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, and Corporate Reputation Review. Marie-Louise has been involved in a range of commercial and research projects including ARC Discovery grant, small research grants and industry grants including DrinkWise Australia.

Dr Josephine Previte is a member of the Marketing Cluster in the UQ Business School at The University of Queensland, Australia. Her research focuses on social marketing and a critical marketing analysis of gender, technology, and marketplace behaviours. Her research has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Macromarketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, and the Journal of Sociology and Addictive Behaviour. Josephine has worked with a range of organisations involved in applying social marketing thinking to effect social change, including: Queensland Health’s Cancer Screening Services, Queensland Government’s Community Service Unit, the Australian Breastfeeding Association, The Australian Red Cross Blood Service and DrinkWise Australia.


Business Management and Communications alumni fly the flag for UoB

It was great to see Business Management with Communications alumni exercising excellent key message delivery skills this week when they engaged with The Independent’s article on Business Management degrees. Sara Harthill and Emma Williams flew the flag for Birmingham Business School and the suite of Business Management programmes with positive contributions on employability:

BM with Communications Programme Director, Hazel Westwood said “This is a good illustration of how our well engaged alumni naturally act as brand ambassadors for the Business School and pathways run by the Marketing Department.” Key Message Delivery is a module studied by BM with Comms students.

The marketing department got to clown around this week…

Dr Pandora Kay from Deakin University is currently visiting the Department of Marketing. On Wednesday February 24th, she shared her research on creativity and innovation in circus organisations with us at our departmental seminar. Pandora’s talk entitled ‘It’s not just Clowning Around: Investigating Cultural Production as a Means of Understanding Managerial Strategic Insight in the Arts’ provoked great discussion about how contemporary circuses are challenging negative stereotypes and what can be learned about creativity and innovation from looking at organisations in the creative industry.  An interesting point that Pandora highlighted, was the relatively few studies that have chosen the creative sector as research sites to explore creativity.Pandora

Business Management with Communications Alumnus Raphael Szmir shares is knowledge with our students

Year 1 Business Management with Communications students got to see a live demonstration of the setting up of a targeted Facebook ad this week when “with Comms” Alumnus, Raphael Szmir guest lectured on the Corporate Comms module. Raphael now works globally, but is based in Brussels, providing clients with audience insights and targeted ads – on Google and Facebook. Raphael, who called into Birmingham Business School before his next project, for an American travel company in Vietnam, said “I still use the skills and knowledge gained on my Communications modules at BBS every working day, it’s a privilege to be back sharing with students some of my latest practice.” Captured on Panapto, the guest session from the Corporate Comms module will soon be available to share.

EMMA featuring in British Science Week

British Science week will run this year from the 11th until the 18th of March. During this week there are a huge range of events and activities around the country to engage the general public in science.  As part of this, Dr David Houghton and his colleague from the EMMA (Exploring Multimodal Metaphor (and Metonymy) in Advertising) will run a workshop ‘Culture & Metaphor in Advertising’ at the Library of Birmingham.  More details on this event can be found here:  EMMA is funded as part of the MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS programme of the European Union and more information on the project can be found here:




Programme and registration for Arts, Heritage, Nonprofit and Social Marketing Colloquium

13th International Colloquium on Arts, Heritage, Non-Profit and Social Marketing, “Understanding impact in arts, heritage, social marketing and non profit marketing”.


Wednesday 3rd September 2014, 9.15am-5.30pm

Birmingham Business School, UK


  1. 15-9.45 Arrival and registration
  1. 45-10 Welcome

       10-10.45 Keynote from Professor Isabelle Szmigin


Professor Isabelle Szmigin

Isabelle Szmigin is Professor of Marketing at Birmingham Business School, the University of Birmingham, UK. Her interests lie primarily in the areas of consumer research, services, ethical and social marketing. She has held ESRC and British Academy research grants. Together with her co-author Professor Maria Piacentini she is looking forward to the publication of their Consumer Behaviour textbook in 2014.


Keynote abstract: Can and should alcohol companies engage in social marketing?

In 2011 the UK government issued its Responsibility Deal (; an initiative to join with major stakeholders particularly commercial organisations to help tackle public health challenges in the areas of alcohol, food, health at work and physical activity. This received much criticism from many particularly health professionals in terms of ‘allowing’ what many would view to be those responsible for these health issues to be involved in social marketing initiatives.

I want to raise the question as to whether one of the industries (alcohol) involved in the responsibility deal should be ‘allowed’ to engage in social marketing and whether its activities are credible. There is little doubt that some in the alcohol industry, manufacturers and retailers, have been guilty of what many would consider to be irresponsible marketing and promotions.

Are the attempts by a number of companies to engage in particular actions in terms of product development and marketing under the auspices of the current government’s Responsibility Deal credible and appropriate? This discussion will be framed in the light of what Herrick (2011) refers to as counterproductive bifurcation. This stems, she says from the unwillingness of the ‘neo-temperance’ and health lobby to engage with the wider political economy of alcohol and it could be added, its legitimate social dimensions. Using the case study of the one (known to me) alcohol company which supports minimum alcohol pricing, I shall consider whether we should accept social marketing initiatives from alcohol companies.

10.50-12.20 Paper sessions 1

Paper session 1A

The emplaced aspects of taste: Towards the exploration of consumers’ place-dependent capital investments

Alexandros Skandalis, Emma Banister, John Byrom


Decisions, decision: The complexities surrounding the space and place in which to consume film

Andrew Hart


Understanding film consumption in the UK and Ireland

Finola Kerrigan, Nela Filimon, and Manuel Cuadrado


From prefigured to situated experience: Visitors’ contingent sense making practices in museums

Dirk vom Lehn


Paper session 1B

Facilitators and barriers to the ease of assimilation of marketing executives into senior management roles in fundraising charities

Roger Bennett


Cross-creating mind-based value between social and imagined communities

Mari Juntunen, Jouni Juntunen


Brand Community

Jaya Akunuri, Emma McDonald


12.20-13.00  Lunch


13-13.45        Keynote from Beth Cox

Beth Cox

Beth Cox is a Freelance Editor and Inclusion Consultant at Without Exception, and Co-founder and Manager of Inclusive Minds – an organisation established to promote diversity and inclusion by working closely with publishers to change the face of children’s books. Before going freelance she worked at Child’s Play (International) Ltd for nearly eight years, where she was instrumental in ensuring that the books that they developed truly reflected our diverse society. As well as consultancy, editorial and design work, she speaks at various seminars and events, organises inclusive book events for children, runs training for publishing students, publishers, teachers, and librarians, is an OICPS Associate Tutor for the Publishing MA (distance learning), and is an IBBY UK committee member.


Keynote topic: Steps taken to ensure equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in children’s books

Beth will be talking about the steps taken to ensure equality, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in children’s books, both in her role at Child’s Play and as a freelance consultant, and the importance and impact of this work. The session will briefly look at the different aspects of diversity, and how these can be represented, and move on to discuss the reasons more inclusive and diverse books aren’t being published, and how Inclusive Minds is working towards changing the face of children’s books to represent every child.


13.50-15.10  Paper sessions 2

Paper Session 2A


The modeling of innovation strategy and performance in the creative industry

Chih-Wen Wu


Researching the impact of creative industries policy interventions on the working lives of individual creative workers in Scotland

Fiona Millar, Nicholas Telford, Doris Ruth Eikhof


The cultural and economic impact of Machinima

Tracy Harwood, Mike Uwins



Paper 2B

The agreement as a market actor

Hanna Niklasson


Flattery or forgery? A conceptual consideration of authenticity in the art market

Chloe Preece, Victoria Rodner


Measuring the value of the RSA new contemporaries exhibition as a platform for emerging artists

Ian Fillis


Paper Session 2C


‘Touchdown in Planet of the Vapes’: UK e-cigarette consumer behaviour and attitudes- A netnography

Tom Farrell, Anastasia Tate


Targeting dis-identification strategies: the case of sexual health risk in men who have covert sex with men (MCSM)

Shona Rowe, David Rowe


An argument to retain frequency in physical activity guidelines using critical social marketing

Sarah Forbes, Kirsten Robertson, Rob Lawson, Damien Mather


15.10-15.40  Coffee break


15.40-17.10  Paper sessions 3

Paper session 3A


Marketing for motivation: The difficulty in marketing the literary heritage tourism sites

Chelsea Bailey, David Arnott


Brand fiction: Branding as a narrative strategy in Graham Greene’s The Human Factor

Terry O’Sullivan


Barriers to engagement: can marketing save opera in Scotland?

Peter Fraser, Ian Fraser


Paper session 3B


Thank you for the Demon

Peter Zachiarison


Pushing theboundaries: Groupies and the transgression of fandom

Gretchen Larsen


Conceptualising cathartic consumption

Anthony Patterson


17.10-17.20  Close


18.30              Pay as you go dinner at local restaurant



Colloquium fee


The fee for the Colloquium will be £50 for members of the Academy of Marketing, £30 for doctoral students and £70 for others.  For information on joining the Academy of Marketing, see Payment may be made by a cheque or through the University’s online payment system.  For online registration, please follow this link:


For catering purposes, can you please register by August 27th.


For further information contact:

Dr. Finola Kerrigan, Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham, University House,
Edgbaston Park Road, Birmingham,
B15 2TY,


Academy of Marketing Special Interest Groups come to University of Birmingham

The Department of Marketing at Birmingham Business School and the Academy of Marketing are hosting 2 research days in September.


On September 3rd, the Arts, Heritage, Nonprofit and Social Marketing SIG will hold their annual colloquium and the following day, September 4th, the Entrepreneurial and Small Business Marketing Symposium will take place.


The calls for papers are below, we look forward to seeing you in September:13th International Colloquium on Arts pdf

AM Entrepreneurial and Small Business Mktg Symposium Call for Papers[3] copy

Roper on Rubbish Research!

On November 20th, the Marketing Department got to hear about what Dr Stuart Roper from Manchester Business School humorously referred to as his ‘rubbish research’.  Branding expert Dr Roper has developed a stream of research on branding and litter which has been published in a range of international journals and attracted funding from international anti-litter bodies.  We heard about the range of innovative methods employed in this research and had a lively discussion of various aspects of the research.  For more details on Dr Roper’s research, see his Manchester Business School page . Image