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Publication details for Professor Nick Ellis

Dean, A.K., Ellis, N. & Wells, V.K. (2017). Science ‘fact’ and science ‘fiction’? Homophilous communication in high-technology B2B selling. Journal of Marketing Management 33(9-10): 764-788.

Author(s) from Durham


This study deepens our understanding of the processes underpinning the diffusion of innovation by critically exploring the language that scientist sellers and buyers employ to facilitate sensemaking in their spoken marketing communications. Pervasive complex technical terminology within business-to-business (B2B) high-technology sales relationships results in numerous sensemaking challenges. Using a discourse analytic methodology, sellers and buyers from nanotechnology companies are interviewed to better understand how culturally close (homophilous) or culturally distant (heterophilous) sales talk influences sensemaking. Although a need for ‘marketing’ is begrudgingly acknowledged, these boundary spanners all appear to enact centralised identities as ‘scientists’ engaged in selling and buying. Working towards maintaining homophily, participants claim to jointly use linguistic tools such as metaphors and popular cultural references to enable a functional level of sensegiving and making.