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AMA-EBSCO Annual Award for Responsible Research in Marketing | 2021 Recipients Announced

Matt Weingarden

In the wake of an extraordinary year, the American Marketing Association is pleased to announce the second round of recipients of the AMA-EBSCO Annual Award for Responsible Research in Marketing. The nine research groups being recognized this year represent diverse perspectives on how Marketing can can be applied to strengthen delivery of healthcare, aid recovery in the face of trauma, and address social inequality among other business and societal concerns. 

The award honors outstanding research that produces both credible and useful knowledge that can be applied to benefit society. A diverse team of scholars with input from dozens of subject matter expert reviewers, selected the winners out of a pool of over 40 nominations. Nominated works needed to be published within a specific window of time and exemplify the Seven Principles of Responsible Research which supports the general notion of “better marketing for a better world.”


Funded via support from the AMA and EBSCO, the award is cosponsored by the Sheth Foundation and presented in cooperation with the Community for Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM). The winners include:

“When Patients and Their Families Feel Like Hostages to Health Care”

Leonard L. Berry, Tracey S. Danaher, Dan Beckham, Rana L.A. Awdish, and Kedar S. Mate
Mayo Clinic Proceedings
Distinguished Winner

Patients are often reluctant to assert their interests in the presence of clinicians, whom they see as experts. The higher the stakes of a health decision, the more entrenched the socially sanctioned roles of patient and clinician can become. As a result, many patients are susceptible to “hostage bargaining syndrome” (HBS), whereby they behave as if negotiating for their health from a position of fear and confusion. It may manifest as understating a concern, asking for less than what is desired or needed, or even remaining silent against one’s better judgment. When HBS persists and escalates, a patient may succumb to learned helplessness, making his or her authentic involvement in shared decision making almost impossible. To subvert HBS and prevent learned helplessness, clinicians must aim to be sensitive to the power imbalance inherent in the clinician-patient relationship. They should then actively and mindfully pursue shared decision making by helping patients trust that it is safe to communicate their concerns and priorities, ask questions about the available clinical options, and contribute knowledge of self to clinical decisions about their care. Hostage bargaining syndrome is an insidious psychosocial dynamic that can compromise quality of care, but clinicians often have the power to arrest it and reverse it by appreciating, paradoxically, how patients’ perceptions of their power as experts play a central role in the care they provide.

“The Bounce in Our Steps from Shared Material Resources in Cultural Trauma and Recovery”

Stacey Menzel Baker and Courtney Nations Baker
Journal of the Association for Consumer Research

Our research reveals how people employ shared material resources to socially construct their stories and collective identity in times of cultural trauma and recovery. Analysis of a documentary series, interviews, books, songs, and visual images chronicling the recovery of a community following a devastating tornado reveals three themes: (1) a vulnerability narrative about suffering, lost capacity, and responsibility, (2) a resiliency narrative about opportunity, collaboration, and abundant capacity, and (3) a bounce narrative about the power of shared material resources to shift collective identity within the cultural landscape of trauma and recovery. We draw on cultural trauma theory from cultural sociology that explains how a traumatic event shapes collective identity. Our findings extend cultural trauma theory by revealing that vulnerability and resiliency are intertwined processes that are informative when studied together, particularly with respect to the role of shared material resources in empowering shifts in collective identity trajectories.

“Dehumanization and Restriction inside a Maximum Security Prison: Novel Insights about Consumer Acquisition and Ownership”

Ronald Paul Hill, Daniel Cunningham, and Gramercy Gentlemen
Journal of the Association for Consumer Research

There are taken-for-granted assumptions about how consumer acquisition and ownership take place in typical consumption environments. However, there are also extraordinary contexts that disallow everyday access to and use of goods and services that barely meet essential needs for basic survival. One poignant example is total institutions, described by Goffman (1961) in negative terms as places where people are subject to involuntary confinement and, potentially, servitude. Since this initial discussion, many forms of institutionalization have decreased (e.g., for mentally ill), but others have increased as a result of political rhetoric around War on Drugs and Tough on Crime positions. As a result, millions of men and women have been incarcerated, and some spend decades or entire adult lives behind bars. While a literature base was spawned by this work, it has had a limited impact on consumer research. Thus, we heed the call from Denzin (2001) and use participatory action research to disclose, illuminate, and criticize dehumanizing processes and acquisition and ownership restrictions that manifest in a maximum security prison, along with coping strategies by inmates. Implications for transformative consumer research (TCR) on acquisition and ownership are offered in the close.

“Mobile Phone Visual Ethnography (MpVE): Bridging Transformative Photography and Mobile Phone Ethnography”

Benét DeBerry-Spence, Akon E. Ekpo, and Daniel Hogan
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Mobile phone proliferation in developing economies has arguably affected the everyday lives of subsistence consumers and entrepreneurs like no other technology in recent times. This impact is evidenced by mobile phones’ embeddedness in everyday consumption and business practices. Surprisingly, mobile phones have only minimally been incorporated into bottom-up research approaches in subsistence marketplaces and/or ethnographic transformative research methodologies and methods. To begin addressing this important gap, the authors conducted a systematic review of the literature on mobile phones and ethnography and then gained practical experience with a new bottom-up methodology called mobile phone visual ethnography (MpVE). Using research experiences as data, the authors share micro-level details about African microentrepreneurial everyday life and highlight important methodological issues associated with conducting MpVE in subsistence marketplaces. They find that MpVE affords methodological naturalism, unpacks informant perspectives of everyday life, captures human mobility within marketplaces, and begins to democratize the research process. In doing so, this article offers a new way of giving voice to subsistence marketplace populations through more active and visible participation in research.

“Understanding the Calorie Labeling Paradox in Chain Restaurants: Why Menu Calorie Labeling Alone May Not Affect Average Calories Ordered”

Christopher Berry, Scot Burton, Elizabeth Howlett, and Christopher L. Newman
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Menu calorie labeling is now required nationwide for chain restaurants in the United States; however, a number of studies have found that calorie labeling does not reduce average calories ordered. This research examines how different food value orientations are associated with divergent consumer responses to restaurants providing calorie information on menus and menu boards. Results from two pilot studies and two experiments, including a restaurant field experiment, indicate that calorie labeling is effective in decreasing the number of calories ordered by health value–oriented consumers. However, for quantity value and taste value–oriented consumers, menu calorie labeling may result in an increase in calories ordered. These influences counterbalance one another, leading to an overall nonsignificant effect of calorie labeling on calories ordered in restaurant settings. These findings offer a compelling explanation for the many studies showing nonsignificant effects of menu calorie labeling and inform ongoing policy debates regarding chain restaurants nationally implementing menu calorie labeling. The conceptual contributions and implications of these findings for public policy and consumer well-being are discussed.

“The Self-Perception Connection: Why Consumers Devalue Unattractive Produce”

Lauren Grewal, Jillian Hmurovic, Cait Lamberton, Rebecca Walker Reczek
Journal of Marketing

This research investigates the mechanism by which the aesthetic premium placed on produce contributes to consumers’ rejection of safe, edible, yet aesthetically unattractive, fruits and vegetables, which results in both financial loss to retailers and food waste. Further, the authors identify a novel way in which the devaluation of such produce can be reduced. Five experiments demonstrate that consumers devalue unattractive produce because of altered self-perceptions: merely imagining the consumption of unattractive produce negatively affects how consumers view themselves, lowering their willingness to pay for unattractive produce relative to equivalently safe but more attractive alternatives. This discrepancy in willingness to pay for unattractive versus attractive produce can be reduced by altering the self-diagnostic signal of consumer choices and boosting consumers’ self-esteem. An experiment in the field demonstrates the effectiveness of using easily implementable in-store messaging to boost consumers’ self-esteem in ways that increase consumers’ positive self-perceptions and, subsequently, their willingness to choose unattractive produce. This research, therefore, suggests low-cost yet effective strategies retailers can use to market unattractive produce, potentially raising retailer profits while reducing food waste.

“Service Innovation is Urgent in Healthcare”

Leonard L. Berry
AMS Review

Healthcare is a service setting where meeting the needs of customers (patients and their families) is uniquely challenging. But the necessity, complexity, cost, and high-emotion nature of the service, as well as technological advances and competitive dynamics in the industry, make the imperative for service innovation in healthcare especially urgent. Forward-thinking healthcare institutions around the United States are succeeding in establishing a value-creating innovation culture and in implementing operational and strategic service innovations that benefit them and their stakeholders. They view continuous innovation as a non-negotiable goal, prize institutional self-confidence, and include patients and families on the innovation team. Cancer care, in particular, faces a pressing need for service innovation, and some progressive oncology centers are demonstrating what is possible to improve the patient and family service experience. The imperatives, now, are for service innovation to become part of the fabric of how all healthcare institutions, not just the groundbreakers discussed in this article, operate—and for academics in the field of marketing to play a crucial role in that effort.

“Shopping While Nonwhite: Racial Discrimination among Minority Consumers”

Aronte Marie Bennett, Ronald Paul Hill, and Kara Daddario
Journal of Consumer Affairs

“Shopping While Black” refers to negative experiences that African American consumers endure in the marketplace. The term was coined before the turn of the century and the tabulation of the 2000 census. However, this term may be antiquated—not because African Americans no longer have disparate consumer experiences, but because these experiences impact all American minorities. This study examines the prevalence of racially motivated discriminatory experiences across consumer contexts. Specifically, it offers an empirical look at ways that racial minorities believe they are treated in a variety of consumption environments. Results show that minority groups experience similar levels of perceived discrimination: Asian Americans and Hispanic Americans are as frequently victims of marketplace discrimination as are African Americans. Interestingly, these shared experiences do not necessarily translate into similar beliefs in the continued existence of discrimination as a derogatory force for American minority consumers.

“Toward an Optimal Donation Solicitation: Evidence from the Field of the Differential Influence of Donor-Related and Organization-Related Information on Donation Choice and Amount”

Tatiana M. Fajardo, Claudia Townsend, and Willy Bolander
Journal of Marketing

The present research decomposes consumer donation behavior into two components: donation choice (i.e., whether to donate) and donation amount (i.e., how much to donate). It then considers how information related to the donor and information related to characteristics of the soliciting organization may differentially influence the two decisions. Results from four field experiments suggest that donor-related appeals have a greater effect on the donation choice decision (vs. organization-related appeals), whereas organization-related appeals have a greater effect on the donation amount decision (vs. donor-related appeals). This might lead one to conclude that presenting both types of appeals in a solicitation is ideal. However, the studies presented herein also suggest that this strategy may backfire. The simultaneous presentation of donor- and organization-related appeals can hamper both donation response rates and average contribution amounts. To address this issue, the authors identify and test an alternative solicitation strategy for maximizing solicitation effectiveness. This strategy involves a multistep request process that capitalizes on an understanding of the differential influence of donor- and organization-related information on donation choice and amount decisions.

About the American Marketing Association (AMA)

As the largest chapter-based marketing association in the world, the AMA is trusted by marketing and sales professionals to help them discover what’s coming next in the industry. The AMA has a community of local chapters in more than 70 cities and 350 college campuses throughout North America. The AMA is home to award-winning content, PCM® professional certification, premiere academic journals, and industry-leading training events and conferences.

About the Sheth Foundation 

Founded by Dr. Jagdish & Madhu Sheth, the Sheth Foundation supports the academic scholarship, publications, education and research of tax-exempt, publicly-supported educational organizations, primarily focusing on the discipline of marketing, by providing support to grant awarding Recipient Organizations.

About Responsible Research in Business and Management (RRBM) 

Responsible Research for Business and Management (RRBM) is dedicated to inspiring, encouraging, and supporting credible and useful research in the business and management disciplines.

Matt Weingarden, Vice President, Communities & Journals, leads the diverse team that supports the AMA’s network of community leaders from its three broad communities and four scholarly journals.