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], Indiana University, Bloomington

Laurel Steinfield, [log in to unmask], Bentley University,  Boston

Nita Umashankar, San Diego State University


Conference Director

Madhu Viswanathan

[log in to unmask][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].

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 ResearchJournal of MacromarketingJournal of Marketing ManagementJournal 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].


AIB-L is brought to you by the Academy of International Business.
For information:
To post message: [log in to unmask]
For assistance: [log in to unmask]
AIB-L is a moderated list.