Word-of-Mouth and Viral


Referrals: Word-of-Mouth and Viral Marketing, Special issue of European Journal of Marketing, Edited by Adam Lindgreen, Angela R. Dobele and Jo?lle Vanhamme; Deadline 1 Jun 2011

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Call for papers

Special issue on "Referrals: word-of-mouth and viral marketing"

European Journal of Marketing announces the call for papers for a special issue on "Referrals: word-of-mouth and viral marketing". Deadline for submission: June 1, 2011.

Purpose of the special issue

Word-of-mouth marketing and, more recently, viral marketing referrals have gained increased attention from marketing academics and practitioners (Anderson 1998; Ennew et al. 2000; Gladwell 2000; Laemer 2004; Spawton et al. 2006). The topic has now developed into a distinctive marketing sub-discipline. Primarily, existing research on referrals (both positive and negative) can be categorised into three focused areas (Dobele 2006). First, studies that consider the frequency and type of referral behaviour; second, studies that examine the effect of the referral on consumers’ product evaluation; and third, social relationships and the impact of referrals on dyads and groups.

While there has been a considerable amount of research into word-of-mouth and viral marketing referrals, our knowledge is still limited and, for the most part, the topic remains a mystery, which is perceived to be in the control of consumers, rather than a practical, manageable marketing tool. That is, word-of-mouth and viral marketing referrals are routinely depicted in an activity-based model showing a person talking to other people within social networks. However, companies’ opportunities to control or manage people’s referrals through such informal networks may be difficult, as these people—for example, opinion leaders and market mavericks—are often uncontrollable.

Practitioner interest in word-of-mouth and viral marketing referrals has generated considerable debate on the topic, with many calling for further research into, for example, the effectiveness of referrals and the interactions with media messages—traditional, as well as online or viral. We refer to, for example, Anderson (1998), Dobele et al. (2007), and Gilly et al. (1998). An increased examination on referrals is warranted, as referrals can be very powerful in influencing consumers’ awareness, attitudes, and purchase intentions (see, for example, Bikhchandani et al. 1991; Day 1971; Gladwell 2000; Henricks 1998; Keaveney 1995; Laemer 2004; Wilson 1994).

The special issue aims to reflect recent advances in academic research and managerial practice within the said focused areas. The issue seeks to continue, and build upon, the tradition of knowledge dissemination on referral offering, behaviour, and dissemination, and to publish within a unified issue a collection of high-quality papers in line with this broad theme. The guest editors welcome rigorous and thought-provoking papers that examine the theme through emergent topics, as well as more traditional perspectives.

We will give preference to empirical papers (both qualitative and quantitative), although theoretical papers that examine fundamental issues in, or offer comprehensive frameworks of, word-of-mouth and viral marketing referrals are also welcomed. All papers should have a clear marketing orientation and should outline the practical implications derived from the research. As well, papers must be relevant to the European and wider world readership of this journal. Specific topics may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Referral marketing in the context of the history of marketing thought.
  • Referral marketing within organisational marketing and traditional marketing plans.
  • Referrals and personality / behavioural characteristics.
  • Referrals and demographics / geographics, including culture’s impact on referral marketing campaigns and consumer behaviour.
  • Referrals, satisfaction, and loyalty—reality or fiction?
  • Consumer feedback on companies’ e-stores.
  • The impact of technology on referrals, including for example viral marketing and web blogging.


Anderson, E.W. (1998), "Customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth", Journal of Service Research, 1 (1), 5-17.

Bikhchandani, S.D., Hirshleifer, D., & Welch, I. (1991), "A theory of fads, fashions, custom and cultural change as information cascades", Journal of Political Economy, 100, 992-1026.

Day, G.S. (1971), "Attitude change, media, and word of mouth", Journal of Advertising Research, 11 (6), 31-40.

Dobele, A. (2006), Positive Word-of-Mouth, PhD thesis, University of Southern Cross.

Dobele, A., Lindgreen, A., Beverland, M., Vanhamme, J., & van Wijk, R. (2007), "Why pass on viral messages? Because they connect emotionally", Business Horizons, 50 (4), 291-304.

Ennew, C., Banerjee, A.K., & Li, D. (2000), "Managing word of mouth communication: empirical evidence from India", International Journal of Bank Marketing, 18 (2), 75-83.

Gilly, M.C., Graham, J.L., & Wolfinbarger, M.F. (1998), "A dyadic study of interpersonal information search", Academy of Marketing Science, 26 (2), 83-100.

Gladwell, M. (2000), The Tipping Point, Abacus Publisher, Oxford.

Henricks, M. (1998), "Spread the word: advertising by word-of-mouth", Entrepreneur, 26 (2), 120-126.

Keaveney, S.M. (1995), "Customer switching behavior in service industries: an exploratory study", Journal of Marketing, 59 (2), 71-82.

Laemer, R. (2004), Full Frontal PR, Bloomberg Press, Princeton, MA.

Money, R.B., Gilly, M.C., & Graham, J.L. (1998), "Explorations of national culture and word-of-mouth referral behavior in the purchase of industrial services in the United States and Japan", Journal of Marketing, 62 (4), 76-87.

Wilson, A. (1994), "Stimulating referrals", Management Decision, 32 (7), 13-15.

Spawton, T., Lockshin, L., & Romaniuk, J. (2006), "Word of mouth and advertising effects on wine brand buying", paper presented to Australian and New Zealand Marketing Academy conference, 4-6 December.

Process for paper submission

Papers submitted must not have been published, accepted for publication, or presently be under consideration elsewhere. Deadline for submission: June 1, 2011.

Submissions should be no more than 5,000 words in length excluding references and appendices. Authors should use Standard English (UK) spelling. Copies should be submitted—via email—in a Word attachment (one file including all figures and tables) to all guest editors. Please do not submit a PDF file. The first page must contain the title, author(s), and contact information for all author(s). On jointly authored papers, one of the authors must be clearly identified as the person to whom all correspondence should be addressed. For additional guidelines, see a recent issue of European Journal of Marketing, or visit the home page at the following address: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/info/journals/ejm/ejm.jsp.

Initial submissions will be pre-reviewed by the guest editors and—if judged a suitable match with the call for papers—sent out for a double-blind review. This means, among other things, that papers that do not comply with the notes on "Author guidelines" or are poorly written (grammar, language) will be desk rejected. Authors must not identify themselves in the body of the paper (e.g., do not submit a Word file with "track changes" active, and please remove all information in the file properties that could identify the authors). The guest editors will keep authors informed about their papers throughout the entire process.

Please address questions to the guest editors (in the first place Adam Lindgreen):

Professor Adam Lindgreen
Department of Marketing and Business Strategy
Hull University Business School
Email: a.lindgreen@hull.ac.uk

Dr. Angela R. Dobele
School of Economics, Finance, and Marketing
RMIT University

Dr. Joëlle Vanhamme
Department of Marketing
IESEG School of Management