Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Management & Marketing


The accepted view within the for-profit literature is that the marketing concept can be operationalised within an organisation via adoption of a market orientation, and is associated with improving organisational performance. It is also considered that a market orientation can benefit organisations within the not-for-profit sector. Relative to within the for-profit sector, research into market orientation is an underresearched area within the not-for-profit sector (including the charity sub-sector). An aspect with virtually nil research is how to successfully introduce a market orientation within not-for-profit organisations.

This thesis examines the process of introducing and legitimising a marketing discourse into charity organisations and subsequently develops a conceptual best practice framework to guide the management of change within charities as managers try to improve organisational performance. The management challenges of introducing a discourse transformation are examined, focussing particularly on how to increase the market orientation within operations with employees who did not necessarily understand the need for change. A discourse transformation, in other words, organisational change, can be considered to have occurred if participants understand or ‘know’ the world differently and act differently than they did previously. The experiences of managers and employees in three Australian charity organisations are examined and the thesis reports on the process, impact on individuals and the change in organisational focus and language following the discourse transformation.

Whilst various literature suggests a market orientation is relevant for charity organisations, research in this thesis shows introduction of market orientation is not straight-forward. A key finding is that charities must firstly become more businesslike (via new managerialism) and professional prior to attempting to increase market orientation. Secondly, management of the charity must choose the specific form of market orientation that can be successfully legitimised within the organisation, and select appropriate strategies to enable the legitimisation. What can be legitimised is typically based around key aspects of the previous culture and legacy discourse, thus different charities are likely to acquire differing perspectives of market orientation. The results explain three contrasting case studies of how change was introduced and the type of change. A conceptual best practice framework is developed that identifies the optimal approaches for management to adopt in introducing an appropriate style of market orientation to improve organisational performance. The thesis thus provides a significant contribution to filling gaps in academic knowledge as well as contributing to the advancement of managerial practice.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.