Tomas Nilsson

Tomas Nilsson

Senior Lecturer
Department of Marketing School of Business and Economics
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PhD in Service Management and Service Studies, from Lund University
MSc in Business Administration and BSc in Social Science and Communication, from Linnaeus University.

In my research I focus on rhetorical aspects of managerial practices. Put differently, I study how managers at different levels argue to accomplish the work they are obliged to do.

When teaching I am often involved in courses that cover marketing and selling of professional services, management communication, organizational storytelling, and rhetoric.

My PhD thesis "Rhetorical business – A study of marketing work in the spirit of contradiction" investigates marketing work in professional service organizations from a rhetorical perspective. The overall research question – What do marketers do when they do marketing work? – is explored empirically through conversations, observations and daily interaction and argumentation with professionals involved in the marketing of consulting services. The rhetorical theory applied in the analysis builds on the assumption that every reasonable argument can be met with an equally reasonable counterargument, which is not only how we argue but also a representation of how we gain knowledge of the world – namely, by contradicting it. The analysis is organized in three themes – situation, strategy and subject – that address questions such as Where and when do marketers argue for business purposes? What rhetorical strategies are used?, and How can the subjects of marketing work be portrayed? This is followed by a discussion of the analysis under the two headings persuasive marketing talk and marketing work “in-between”. The thesis concludes that marketing work is accomplished by self-reflexive marketers who argue for business purposes in, through and in-between meetings as they employ versatile and expansive language and enact contradictory selves. In so concluding the thesis contributes a multifaceted account of marketing work beyond the framework of normative marketing management. It also shows how rhetorical theory can be used in marketing research to analyse aspects of marketing practice that would otherwise have been poorly accounted for. Finally, the text is written as a “confessional tale” by an author with long experience of marketing work, in the hope that it may encourage self-reflexive inquires among professionals involved in marketing.


Article in journal (Refereed)

Conference paper (Refereed)

Article in journal (Other academic)

Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)

Article, review/survey (Other academic)