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PhD in Marketing

Department of Management and Marketing

PhD Student Research

Courtney Nations Baker is a Ph.D. Candidate in Marketing at the University of Wyoming. Courtney’s research seeks to better understand how individuals consume ritual services to enhance personal transformation during rites of passage. Specifically, she explores how individuals change ritual practices by using alternative services providers or by constructing unconventional practices that better meet their ritual needs. In her research, she works with consumers who have chosen environmentally sustainable burial options over traditional funerary practices in order to understand how consumers make the decision to opt out of traditional practices. Creation or co-creation of these alternative practices is an opportunity for firms that facilitate rituals to simultaneously promote consumer well-being and better meet customer needs.

Courtney has conducted thirty-two depth interviews with consumers of alternative death-care services, including reef ball interment and conservation burial. Her goal with this work is to understand how individuals instigate social and ritual change through personal choices that enhance their well-being. She has also interviewed three providers of these alternative services, allowing a glimpse into their interactions with customers and their motives for developing alternative service offerings.

As a Ph.D. student, Courtney has focused primarily on issues related to Transformative Consumer Research and Services Marketing. In 2013, she received a grant from the Association for Consumer Research and the Sheth Foundation in support of TCR work for her research described above. Recently, her first-author book chapter, “The Role of Body Disposition in Making Sense of Life and Death,” was accepted into Susan Dobscha’s edited forthcoming book Death in a Consumer Culture.

Together with her advisor, Stacey Baker, Courtney also researches issues of consumer vulnerability and social justice. Together, they have explored vulnerability in natural disaster, in poverty, and in everyday circumstances. They have a forthcoming book chapter on consumer vulnerability, as well as a forthcoming Journal of Macromarketing piece on dual exchange systems for meeting needs after a natural disaster.

Overall, Courtney’s research vision focuses on how individuals behave and consume when faced with difficulties in their lives, such as death or disaster. Traditionally, service providers have catered to mainstream ritual practices and served those who can afford them. Courtney seeks to understand how service providers can positively influence meaningful life experiences in ways that are inclusive, co-creative, and responsive to consumer needs.

Click here for more information on the PhD program.

Courtney Baker

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