An inclusive rather than exclusive approach to the textbook development process
Dr James Lappeman is the Head of Projects at the UCT Liberty Institute of Strategic Marketing. With a background in marketing, specialising in consumer behaviour, he has a wealth of experience teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate students in a range of marketing disciplines. He has lectured and convened courses at UCT’s School of Management Studies and UCT’s Graduate School of Business, as well as various other prominent marketing and advertising agencies and schools.
In February 2019, James was awarded a grant from the DOT4D project to develop an open textbook for undergraduate marketing students which explores the discipline in a more localised, South African way.
What is the problem he is trying to address using an open textbook?
The Marketing to South African Consumers textbook, currently in production, addresses two main problem areas: the high cost of traditional marketing textbooks and the fact that many of the textbooks which are currently available are delivered from a global North perspective. As such, they do not always fully represent or reflect local experiences and realities.
James also highlights the fact that textbooks currently in use in marketing courses are poor value, as students often only utilise a small portion of a textbook. In addition to this, in the ever-evolving world of marketing, the rate of practical change often outstrips the rate of curriculum change, meaning that current textbooks in use quickly become outdated.
What is his authorship approach?
James plays the role of author and editor in the Marketing to South African Consumers production process. Working with co-editors Paul Egan, Gillian Rightford and Thabang Ramogase, the book was approached in a pragmatic way by involving authors who were experienced in various elements of the book’s contents. Each author was given a brief and worked with the editors over 18 months to craft the 19 chapters which comprise the textbook. The editors, in collaboration with the DOT4D Publishing and Implementation Manager, then worked with the authors in an editorial process to create consistency in content, flow and design.
The unique choice of chapters came from a ground-up approach where existing marketing theory was incorporated without being bound to traditional marketing textbook structures. A major emphasis was also placed on localised context, which was part of the vision behind the book. Marketing practitioners, academics and students were involved in the writing, editing and peer-reviewing process. This level of collaboration was deemed crucial, as all three groups are stakeholders in the final outcome of the book.
Having taught marketing at all levels of university (and at different institutions), the editors had a view on some of the curriculum needs for an entry-level marketing textbook. After assessing 15 local and international marketing textbooks, a vision was created for the book. This vision included the inclusion of more contextual chapters, which sometimes meant sacrificing theory for application. The editors, with their decades of marketing experience, were able to ensure that the author choice and final content was applicable (and not too theory heavy to be impractical).
The editors made sure to be true to sound marketing fundamentals that form the backbone of the discipline and are practiced by the world’s leading organisations. In line with this, the Marketing to South African Consumers open textbook is aimed at providing a base for a number of undergraduate marketing courses. The marketing curriculum at UCT is currently under a multi-year review process and this textbook is part of the discussion.
The textbook has some of the country's most accomplished marketers, as well as those just entering the field. The editors of the work felt that they did not want to be bound by norms and wanted an inclusive rather than exclusive approach to the textbook development process. The textbook, published in collaboration with UCT Libraries, is scheduled for release in late 2020.