Reshaping the World through Customer and Actor Engagement

Closing date: 28th February 2023

Key deadlines

Submissions open: 1 December 2022

Submission deadline: 28 February 2023

Guest Editors

Jodie Conduit

The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia

[email protected]

Matthew Alexander

University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK

[email protected]

Jaylan Azer

University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

[email protected]


Multiple global challenges are threatening the sustainability of our world; these include pandemics, wars, energy and financial crises, poverty, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Addressing these issues must align with strategies to improve health and education, reduce discrimination and inequality, and spur economic growth all while tackling climate change and preserving our environment. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) provide a framework for focusing our efforts to tackle such issues in a coordinated manner (United Nations, 2022). In recent years, there have been calls for marketing and service scholars to utilize our theories, concepts, and methodological approaches to contribute to solutions for these global challenges (Bolton, 2022; Field et al., 2021).

The concepts of customer and actor engagement can play a role in understanding how actors can help to address these challenges. While much of this field of research has considered how consumer engagement can increase customer value and firm performance (e.g., Pansari and Kumar, 2017), what if the same theoretical perspectives were utilized to consider how we could engage consumers and other actors for the greater good of society. We know that global problems impact one’s basic cognitive processes, emotions, willingness to initiate action, and interaction (Muraven, 2012; van Grunsven, 2020) often with detrimental effects on well-being (Donthu and Gustafsson, 2020). However, if the focus of engagement was on the societal issue, through cognitive, emotional, behavioral, social, and spiritual engagement, we can encourage actors to invest resources for the purpose of enacting societal change (Karpen and Conduit, 2020; Finsterwalder and Kuppelwieser, 2020). Recently, researchers have created several initiatives beyond the firm/customer dyad, emphasizing the role of engagement at a macro-level (e.g., Azer and Alexander, 2022; Brodie et al., 2021). Thus, we recognize that the concept of actor engagement can play a key role in impacting the broader ecosystem (Alexander et al., 2018) and reshaping institutions and markets potentially for societal benefit (Fehrer et al., 2020; Kleinaltenkamp et al., 2021).

The overarching aim of this special issue is to explore initiatives that can contribute to the sustainability agenda using the lens of engagement. Specifically, through service research we can continue to reshape people’s lives and global economies making them fairer, greener, inclusive and more prosperous. This special issue aims to contribute to the engagement literature by revealing its scope for impact beyond the customer/firm dyad to include a broad range of societal contexts including health care, social good, and the environment. In addition, the relationship between engagement and other literature streams including, but not limited to, service technology, TSR, market shaping, and service ecosystems will provide additional originality. Furthermore, the special issue aims to contribute to the UN SDGs in contexts of health and well-being, responsible consumption and production, climate action, peace, justice, and developing strong institutions.

The scope of the special issue

The objective of this special issue is to publish impactful and innovative papers that explore sustainability challenges using an engagement lens. We are interested in all aspects of engagement which could include engagement dispositions (see Sim et al., 2022), engagement behaviors (e.g. van Doorn et al., 2010), collective engagement (Kleinaltenkamp et al., 2019) and developing and expanding existing frameworks and models which explicate the nomological network of sustainable engagement. We would be particularly interested in the role of engagement in wider service ecosystems and networks  (see Brodie et al., 2019) and research that considers how engagement activity can influence wider institutional change (see Alexander et al., 2018; Kleinaltenkamp et al., 2021). With this Special Issue, we seek to continue to extend our understanding of the impact and scope of engagement research beyond its roots in the customer-firm dyad to encompass a broader range of societal actors and settings.

We welcome conceptual and empirical (qualitative and quantitative) articles and particularly encourage multidisciplinary research that considers this topic from alternative perspectives.

Indicative themes for the Special Issue

We welcome papers that explore engagement related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals or other realms of societal benefit. This includes contexts such as poverty, hunger reduction, health and well-being, education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, green energy, work and the economy, innovation and infrastructure, reducing inequality, sustainable communities, responsible production and consumption, climate change, the natural world, and creating strong institutions. Example topics could include:

  • Building engagement for specific sustainable community initiatives
  • Societal outcomes of customer/actor engagement
  • Tackling negative engagement behaviors around sustainability
  • The interplay of cultural factors in facilitating engagement for social good
  • Analyzing engagement around sustainable social media campaigns
  • The role of engagement marketing in the not-for-profit sector: success and failure
  • Service ecosystem perspectives and sustainability engagement
  • B2B, B2C and C2C perspectives of engagement for sustainability
  • The role of engagement for enhancing well-being in digital and non-digital contexts
  • How engagement can be used to avoid discrimination and racial stigmatization
  • Engagement with immersive technologies (e.g., augmented reality, virtual reality) for environmental and social good.


Alexander, M., Jaakkola, E. & Hollebeek, L. (2018). ''Zooming Out: Actor Engagement Beyond the Dyadic''. Journal of Service Management, Vol. 29 No 3, pp 333-351.

Azer, J. & Alexander, M. (2022). ''Covid-19 Vaccination: Engagement Behavior Patterns and Implications for Public Health Service Communication''. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 32 No 2, pp 323-351.

Azer, J., Blasco-Arcas, L. & Harrigan, P. (2021). ''#Covid-19: Forms and Drivers of Social Media Users’ Engagement Behavior toward a Global Crisis''. Journal of Business Research, Vol. 135 No 1, pp 99-111.

Bolton, R. N. (2022). The convergence of sustainability and marketing: Transforming marketing to respond to a new world. Australasian Marketing Journal, 30(2), 107-112.

Brodie, R., Ranjan, K., Verreynne, L., Jiang, Y. & Previte, J. (2021). ''Coronavirus Crisis and Health Care: Learning from a Service Ecosystem Perspective''. Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. 31 No 2, pp 225-246.

Brodie, R. J., Fehrer, J., Jaakkola, E. & Conduit, J. (2019). ''Actor Engagement in Networks: Defining the Conceptual Domain''. Journal of Service Research, Vol. 22 No 2, pp 173-188.

Donthu, N. & Gustafsson, A. (2020). ''Effects of Covid-19 on Business and Research''. Journal of Business Research, Vol. 117 No 284-289.

Fehrer, J., Conduit, J., Plewa, C., Li, L., Jaakkola, E. & Alexander, M. (2020). ''Market Shaping Dynamics: Interplay of Actor Engagement and Institutional Work''. Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 35 No 9, pp 1425-1439.

Field, J. M., Fotheringham, D., Subramony, M., Gustafsson, A., Ostrom, A. L., Lemon, K. N., ... & McColl-Kennedy, J. R. (2021). Service research priorities: designing sustainable service ecosystems. Journal of Service Research, 24(4), 462-479.

Finsterwalder, J. & Kuppelwieser, G. (2020). ''Equilibrating Resources and Challenges During Crises: A Framework for Service Ecosystem Well-Being''. Journal of Service Management, Vol. 31 No 6, pp 1107-1129.

Karpen, I. O. & Conduit, J. (2020). ''Engaging in Times of Covid-19 and Beyond: Theorizing Customer Engagement through Different Paradigmatic Lenses''. Journal of Service Management, Vol. 31 No 6, pp 1163-1174.

Kleinaltenkamp, M., Conduit, J., Plewa, C., Karpen, I. O., & Jaakkola, E. (2021). ''Engagement-driven institutionalization in market shaping: Synchronizing and stabilizing collective engagement''. Industrial Marketing Management, Vol. 99, pp 69-78.

Kleinaltenkamp, M., Karpen, I. O., Plewa, C., Jaakkola, E., & Conduit, J. (2019). ''Collective engagement in organizational settings''. Industrial Marketing Management, Vol. 80, pp 11-23.

Muraven, M. (2012). ''Ego Depletion: Theory and Evidence''. In: Ryan, R. (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Human Motivation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pansari, A. & Kumar, V. (2017). ''Customer engagement: the construct, antecedents, and consequences''. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Vol. 45 No 3, pp 294-311.

Sim, M., Conduit, J., Plewa, C. & Hentzen, J. K. (2022). ''Customer Engagement with Service Providers: An Empirical Investigation of Customer Engagement Dispositions''. European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 56 No 7, pp 1926-1955.

United Nations. (2022). ''United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Available At: Https://Sdgs.Un.Org/Goals'' [Online].

Van Doorn, J., Lemon, K. N., Mittal, V., Nass, S., Pick, D., Pirner, P. & Verhoef, P. C. (2010). ''Customer Engagement Behavior: Theoretical Foundations and Research Directions''. Journal of Service Research, Vol. 13 No 3, pp 253-266.

Van Grunsven, J. (2020). ''Perceptual Breakdown During a Global Pandemic: Introducing Phenomenological Insights for Digital Mental Health Purposes''. Ethics and Information Technology, Vol. No 1-8.