The Eighth Subsistence Marketplaces Conference:
Symbiotic Academic-Social Enterprise in Subsistence Marketplaces
May 30-June 1, 2020 | Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles
Immediately Following the Marketing and Public Policy Conference at the same location, May 28-30 -
Immediately Preceding the Third Subsistence Marketplaces Bottom-Up Immersion Conference in Puebla, Mexico, June 3-6 -

Conference Co-Chairs
Ashok K. Lalwani, [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>, Indiana University, Bloomington
Laurel Steinfield, [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>, Bentley University,  Boston
Nita Umashankar, San Diego State University

Conference Director
Madhu Viswanathan
[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>; [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>
Loyola Marymount University

Track Chairs In Progress(Topics Forthcoming)
Myla Bui-Nguyen, Loyola Marymount University
Ronald Duncan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Ashley Goreczny, Iowa State University
Hussein Faruque Aly, Lancaster University, UK
Samanthika Gallage, Staffordshire University, UK
Alexander Glosenberg, Loyola Marymount University
Norma Scagnoli, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Jacob Park, Rutgers University
Tejinder Sharma, Kurukshetra University, India
Saroja Subrahmanyan, Saint Mary’s College of CA
Steven Rayburn, Texas State University
Shikha Upadhyaya, California State University
Jessie J. Wang, Miami University

Call for Papers

Subsistence marketplaces consist of consumer and entrepreneur communities living at a range of low income levels, and are concentrated in developing countries and regions such as Brazil, India, China, Vietnam, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, many individuals in developed countries also live in subsistence. The subsistence marketplaces stream of work pioneered at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, is unique in examining the intersection of poverty and marketplaces with a bottom-up orientation. This approach is rooted in a micro-level understanding of life circumstances of consumers, entrepreneurs, and communities. This stream has been reflected in seven biennial conferences, two immersion conferences, and about 60 refereed articles in related special journal issues (, as well as in dedicated session tracks at other conferences and refereed articles in a variety of journals. This conference series has been a leading forum for evolving and sharing research and fostering best practices for improving quality of life in these communities.

Background on Subsistence Marketplaces Conferences

Our biennial conferences are not only interdisciplinary but also inter-sectoral, drawing from researchers and practitioners from business, government, and social sectors.  The 8th Subsistence Marketplaces Conference is intended for a wide audience that spans research or practical interest in subsistence marketplaces, with diverse disciplinary backgrounds such as in business (e.g., marketing, management, entrepreneurship, strategy), development, policy, and related social sciences as well as technical areas.

The seven conferences we have organized cover themes from: consumption and entrepreneurship beyond literacy and resource barriers to consumption and commerce for a better world; impactful research to sustainable innovation; and micro-level insights to macro-level impact. We have spanned geographies and substantive domains, developed pathways at the intersection of research and practice, and extended connections between subsistence marketplaces and sustainability. We debuted a parallel series of immersion conferences unique to our bottom-up approach through field interactions, with the first and second conferences held in India and Tanzania, respectively. Accompanying each biennial conference have been special issues or sections, to encourage research with this bottom-up approach. The research featured at our conferences and published in special issues/sections cover a wide range of poverty contexts from isolated tribal communities to refugee settlements, to rural and urban settings around the world. Moreover, this fundamental understanding has been used to derive implications for a variety of sectors of society.

2020 Subsistence Marketplace Conference

In its eighth iteration, the 2020 conference is titled to reflect the urgency of positively impacting subsistence marketplaces through symbiotic academic-social enterprise, a hallmark of the subsistence marketplaces stream. This approach creates unique synergies between research, education, and social enterprise.

A key emphasis is to look back to the previous seven conferences, the two immersion conferences and the resultant research, education, and practice; as well as to look forward toward new pathways for impactful research, education, and practice. Central here will be the unique synergies between research, education and social enterprise.

The specific themes for this conference will help to organize the broad work in the field and facilitate discussion among participants. We list some topics below for illustrative purposes. The team of track chairs and descriptions will fully formed in the coming months.

The conference immediately follows the Marketing and Public Policy Conference to be held at Loyola Marymount University until the afternoon of May 30. The conference begins with an evening reception and poverty simulation Saturday, May 30, and sessions and workshops from Sunday, May 31 to midafternoon Monday, June 1. The conference purposefully includes a blend of plenary sessions, participatory workshops, special topical sessions, and presentations of papers submitted in response to this call. The emphasis is on sharing nascent ideas and knowledge (or new and provocative questions) among researchers, practitioners, and students.

May 30, Saturday, afternoon is dedicated to a pre-conference workshop designed specifically for doctoral students and junior researchers.

Academics, students, social entrepreneurs, policy makers, and business and nonprofit practitioners are encouraged to submit papers and attend.

Suggested Topics

We invite papers based on research and/or lessons from practice around the following suggested themes, although submissions may go beyond these topics.
Subsistence Consumer-Entrepreneurs

•      Consumer behavior in subsistence marketplaces

•      Facets of scarcity in subsistence marketplaces

•      Entrepreneurship and/or creativity in subsistence marketplaces

•      Reflections on agency of subsistence consumer-entrepreneurs and the changes they help achieve

Social Justice and Well-being

•      Substantive domains of subsistence (e.g., water, sanitation, energy, food, housing)

•      Health, well-being, and justice in subsistence marketplaces

•      Intersectional and/or gender-, class-, ethnicity/race-, language-, able-bodied-, and/or nationality-based oppressions related to entrenched or changing power dynamics experienced by consumers

•      Environmental issues affecting subsistence consumers, consumer-merchants, including aspects related to climate change, war or violence

•      Issues of environmental justice relating to subsistence marketplaces

•      Practices that improve or decrease consumers' well-being, such as technological advancements, economic, social and personal development programs

Marketing Systems & Elements

•      Emergence of marketing systems

•      Sustainable product design for subsistence marketplaces

•      Inventing and re-inventing new products and services for subsistence marketplaces

•      Supply chain and distribution challenges and opportunities

•      Pricing for value and sustainability

•      Marketing communication and education

Organizational Models/Practices

•      Organizational design and redesign for operating in subsistence marketplaces

•      Collaborative models for business innovations

•      Sustainable business practices in subsistence marketplaces

Social Innovations

•      Consumers' relation to social innovations, such as barriers or supporting mechanisms to their adoption

•      The merging of social and business missions through social innovations

•      The adoption of business practices in nonprofit organizations developing social innovations

•      Social innovation alliances and partnerships among NGOs, governments, and businesses


•      Bottom-up and market-based development policies

•      The Sustainable Development Goals, including policies/practices that aid progress and/or result in unintended consequences.

Education: For the Classroom and Practice

•      Pedagogical advancements in subsistence marketplaces, such as economic and financial perspectives (e.g., marketplace and financial literacy)

•      Synergies between research and education about subsistence marketplaces

•      Synergies between education and social enterprise in subsistence marketplaces

•      Pedagogical advancements in bringing subsistence contexts into the classroom, including multidisciplinary teaching initiatives


•      Synergies between research and practice in subsistence marketplaces

•      Innovative research methods

•      Methodologies/Methods to improve the relationship between researchers and research participants

Abstract Submission Requirements

All authors are asked to submit a three-page abstract, from which acceptance decisions will be made and preliminary session planning will be carried out. Proposals for special sessions are also welcome.

Page 1:
Suggested theme(s) for which the submission is to be considered (papers do not have to fit any particular theme),
Author(s) with full contact information including email.

Pages 2-3: Double-spaced abstract of the paper or special session, inclusive of a list of selected references, tables, and/or other key materials.

Format: Please email as a Word attachment to [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.
Submission Deadline: January 15, 2020; Notification of Review Decision: January 31, 2020

Submissions for Journal Review for Special Issue

A special issue or a special section of a journal is likely to be published based primarily on articles developed from research presented at the conference and submitted to the review process. However, submission to the special issue will also be open to research not presented at the conference. Prior conferences have led to a book (Advances in International Management series by Elsevier in 2007), and special issues/sections of journals (Journal of Business Research, Journal of Macromarketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Journal of Public Policy and Marketing, Journal of Consumer Affairs). Further details will be available as they are finalized. A tentative schedule is as follows.

Submission Deadlines for Full Drafts:
September 30, 2020: Deadline for paper submission after incorporation of comments from conference participants and conference chairs
November 30, 2020: Feedback to authors after peer review
January 31, 2021: Deadline for revised submission
May 31, 2021: Final deadline for subsequent revisions

Publication Submission Requirements
Page 1: Title, author(s), and full contact information (including e-mail).
Pages 2-35: Double-spaced paper not to exceed 35 pages including references, appendices, and exhibits.

Format: Please email as a Word attachment to [log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>.

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