Designing a Model for Agenda-Setting of Electoral Policies with a Political Marketing Approach

Research Article

Austin J Bus Adm Manage. 2021; 5(1): 1048.

Designing a Model for Agenda-Setting of Electoral Policies with a Political Marketing Approach

Behnampour B¹, Paykani MH²* and Zazerani MRY³

¹Islamic Azad University, Isfahan Branch (Khorasgan), Iran

²Department of Management, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan Branch (Khorasgan), Iran

³Department of Political Science, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan Branch (Khorasgan), Iran

*Corresponding author: Mehraban Hadi Paykani, Department of Management, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan Branch (Khorasgan), Isfahan, Iran

Received: March 01, 2021; Accepted: March 29, 2021; Published: April 05, 2021


The purpose of this study was to design a model for determining the agenda of electoral policies with a political marketing approach. This study is a qualitative research that has been performed using grounded theory method and Strauss and Corbin model, which is based on three stages of open, axial and selective coding. In this regard, in-depth interviews were conducted using theoretical snowball sampling with election experts, deputies, governors and university professors. The number of samples continued until the responses reached saturation (with 17 interviews). Data analysis was performed in three stages of open coding, axial coding, and electoral coding and then the intended model was explained based on the paradigm model of grounded theory. (Executive issues of the electoral institution, weakness of the party system, misunderstanding of political marketing and legal and supervisory problems) were identified as contextual factors, and the (cultural, political, economic) dimensions were identified as contextual factors from the perspective of research participants. Strategies are included in three dimensions: solving executive and supervisory problems, reforming the understanding of political marketing, strengthening the party system and the resulting consequences including upgrading the country’s party system, upgrading the country’s electoral system and the country’s political development.

Keywords: Agenda setting; Electoral policies; Political marketing; Grounded theory


Identifying a public problem is usually accompanied by processes that relate it to the realm of public authority and attribute the action of solving it to that realm. Attributing a problem to the realm of public authority and government policy-makers is the result of the efforts of actors whose job it is to politicize public problems. Among public policies, electoral policies are important for advancing the goals of a system and ensuring the legitimacy of a system. Policy lies in whatever governments choose to do or not to do. The most important stage in the policy-making cycle is the “agenda setting” stage, which determines how items or issues are placed on the government’s agenda [1]. In fact, it must be said that the preparation of the agenda is necessary, because if the issues are not included in the agenda, they can not be considered for action. Issues and problems should be considered before choosing a policy. In political systems, competition between political actors for power or influence within party decisions largely depends on how they market themselves and their political, public, and social activities and public opinion. It should be noted that in politics, and especially in democracies, the biggest problem is environmental uncertainty, which itself is affected by the large number and complexity of elements of the political environment. Thus, political marketing addresses political organizations and political parties, parliament and government sectors, and uses techniques such as market research and product design and concepts such as the desire to satisfy demands and reaches the business world and tries to achieve its goals, such as winning the elections and passing laws. Given the importance of the agenda and the use of political marketing approach in determining the agenda, it is important to note that the greater the agreement on the definition of a public problem and the wider the scope of the problem, the greater the possibility of the problem being on the government agenda and its serious consideration, and not paying attention to it puts policymakers in an unfavorable political situation. Now, according to the above, in the present study, we seek to design a model for determining the agenda of electoral policies with a political marketing approach.

Theoretical Foundations and Research Background

Setting the agenda

Communities are increasingly faced with complex, outdated, and highly interconnected problems that have a high degree of uncertainty and potentially face problems - malignant problems such as climate change, resource scarcity, or crisis. Despite this discourse and the referred problems, policy-making is trying to find new ways to address these complex challenges. However, the co-production of interdisciplinary knowledge is recognized as tackling social challenges due to the transfer of sustainability. Public literature leads to better production of decisions and increased legitimacy and is one of the most prominent reasons for launching and conducting participatory processes. In addition, at EU level, public participation is sought to strengthen EU citizenship and build trust in EU institutions, and projects such as the 2006 Meeting of Minds, the consultation of senior citizens on brain science, can be followed.

Agenda-setting as the focal point of policy-making is the most fundamental issue in government policy-making. The agenda-setting process includes showing how an issue is raised at the community level and prioritizing it for analysis and finding a way to solve it. Koop and Ross have defined the agenda as a process by which the demands of different sections of society are turned into conflicting rationales in order to attract the serious attention of government officials. Two categories of external factors and internal factors can be identified as effective factors on policy-making and the agenda process: internal factors including the executive and legislative branches and external factors including economic, cultural and political issues [2]. According to Barbara Nelson, the process of preparing an agenda is that “public opinion experts are informed of new issues and problems, then examine them and set up their own organizations to deal with them” [3]. In fact, it should be said that the preparation of the agenda is necessary, because if the issues are not included in the agenda, they can not be considered for action, issues and problems must be considered before choosing a policy.

Political marketing

Democracy in any country or habitat prefers constructive criticism, differing views, competition, and choice of alternative policies. Discussion is the twin engine of democracy. They are the pillars that represent the support of the government. Violence is the antithesis of political competition in a democracy. On the contrary, fair political practices reflect the democratic process. Therefore, political practices should only be applied through approved competitive approaches and strategies [4]. Usually, politicians and political parties implement different strategies to achieve the set political goals and objectives [5]. In the second half of the last century, marketing began to be seen as a tool to spread the word in politics. Its role in political strategy has reached such a level were marketing is a key element in most political projects today. The basic understanding of marketing is lost on mere newspaper and television coverage of news and messages. In most areas affected by new technologies and operating systems, it is observed that the growth rate of social media and its importance in politics has increased [6].

Political marketing can be defined as the application of marketing concepts, principles, and practices to political issues by individuals, groups, organizations, and nations. The most important goals in political marketing include guiding public visions and ideas, advancing political ideologies, winning political contests and elections, and enacting laws and holding referendums related to the needs, wants, and desires of target market segments. Political marketing is designed to influence people’s votes in elections. Political marketing may involve systematic approaches and relationships that seek to persuade and extract relevant individuals or parties (including facilities and infrastructure support) that may advance personal, group, ethnic, tribal, or professional interests [5]. Political parties use marketing tools as part of their campaign activities. The category of political marketing helps to understand how specific marketing tools are used to improve the technical and strategic aspects of political campaigns. However, the main focus of political marketing is on how political actors use marketing tools. The fundamental question is why do political actors use marketing tools? [7].

Political marketing management analysis uses two different approaches called functional and instrumental perspectives. The instrumental perspective seeks to find the tools and theoretical issues of political marketing and covers most of its studies and research aspects. While a functional perspective discusses how to use these tools to achieve political marketing goals and implement these tools in practice. Most political marketing research is on the instrumental perspective. The tools available in political marketing refer to four elements, called 4Ps for short (product, Price, Place, Promotion). Although similarities can be found between business and political marketing concepts in these discussions, the concept of product as a political marketing tool and a vital element of political marketing theory has not yet been defined in a popular way. This in itself has created a major obstacle to the development of political market theory.

Political marketing perspective

According to [8], the phenomenon of political marketing is still relatively new historically, although the trend of political campaigning has been around for a long time. However, the system of regular use of political marketing principles, strategies, and techniques has recently evolved due to the rise of industrialism and the development of voter rights [9]. As an art, political marketing existed before the idea of democracy, and as a set of communication tools and techniques, developed with the progress of the twentieth century [8]. Wring [9] states that the marketing system takes control of political struggles in the second half of the twentieth century. Historically, political marketing has grown from the work of political communication specialists in various fields. Currently, political marketing has grown in its field [10]. Signs of maturity can be found in the publication of political marketing textbooks, magazines, and the use of political marketing terms such as “rotation”, “packaging”, “political propaganda” and “political strategies”, etc. [5]. Political organizations have countless goals and generally seek effective solutions to compete in democratic competitions. The main goal of a political party is electoral success, and political parties use strategies that enable them to gain enough votes in general elections to gain control of the government. Thus, in most democracies around the world, politicians and political parties seek tactical and strategic marketing techniques to relate to elections and reap the benefits of elections or re-election. These politicians and political parties recognize the need to align their political proposals with the core values of their respective audiences [11]. Marketing can become a positive force that influences how politics works, for example, by helping to formulate policy and predict future trends in the political market [12]. In general, political marketing has been proposed to influence the people’s vote in elections. The difference with regular marketing is that the concepts (campaign promises) are sold instead of products and services. Political marketing, of course, uses many of the same techniques used in product marketing, such as advertising, direct mail, and publicity.

Electoral policies

The design of electoral systems has been an important part of the democratic election process. But the design of electoral systems should not be done without regard to the design framework of the constitution and other institutions, which can also be extremely important for various issues such as managing gender representation conflicts and developing the party system. If properly designed, electoral systems can clarify political change and strengthen popular participation, paving the way for the emergence of legitimate representative, and they can meet a wide range of wants and expectations. But if electoral systems are designed to be undesirable, they can impede the path to democracy and even political stability. In order for the process of designing electoral systems to be successful, this process must not only attract the attention and trust of politicians and election administrators, but also the trust of civil society organizations, experts and most importantly, the citizens of a country where democratic reforms are being implemented. The electoral system must not only be efficient in the current situation, but must be designed to adapt to changes that may occur in the future in attitudes and behavior and, consequently, in electoral motivations. Electoral systems can be designed to both strengthen democracy and weaken democracy. Mechanisms for determining constituencies, voting methods, and determining the qualifications of candidates as well as voters are included in the above definition. In short, it can be said that voting methods represent electoral systems ultimately [13]. In fact, this set of operations and techniques related to the fact that the method and manifestation of the sovereign right of the voters in the administration of the country is a complex operation with many steps and components and its implementation is one of the most important measures in any political system. In summary, in this paper, elections are a set of actions designed to select rulers or appoint observers to control power. From this point of view, elections mean selection techniques and different methods of appointing representatives; An instrument by which the will of the citizens can be involved in the formation of political institutions and the appointment of those in charge of exercising political authority.

Research background

Previous research in relation to any new research can be directly or indirectly related to the main issue of the research, which is helpful in any case. In this research, a number of backgrounds have been mentioned:

Hajipour et al. [14] presented a study entitled “Designing a Political Marketing Model in Local Elections”. Today, elections, as the most important arena for political participation, are the benchmark for the popularness of any government. In democracies, winning the most votes and elections has always been one of the main concerns of political currents. Political marketing has doubled in recent decades as a means of achieving practical election victory; So that the victory of political currents in the elections largely depends on the effective use of political marketing models by these groups. In this study, an attempt was made to provide a local model of political marketing in local elections in Iran. In this study, the results of indepth interviews with 13 experts were used in the field of “Grounded Theory”. The apparent approach of the local elections in Tehran revealed the following: 1. The requirements for the effective presence of the party in political competition; 2. Voting market needs; 3. Product design tailored to the main demand of the voting market; 4. Effective marketing and advertising of political product; 5. Selling ideas / candidates and 6. Continuous monitoring of the environment determine the dimensions of the political marketing model in local elections.

Rosa (2018) has studied a research entitled “Participatory agenda setting in the context of the test”. The subject of the addition of largescale participatory processes to regulate the development agenda is questioned, and the results of the large-scale participatory process in Europe are compared by comparative study with 16 specialized studies with a similar purpose. As a result, the development of the use of large-scale participatory methods as agenda-setting processes is known to be important which gives citizens the opportunity to create new and relevant results.

Norazina Madrin [15] conducted a study entitled “Agenda Setting Theory” with the aim of examining what lies in the theory of agenda regulation and tries to determine what is created among the media in relation to the theory of agenda regulation. She asked two questions: 1. What is the theory of agenda setting? 2. What is the intermedia structure? To obtain information and knowledge related to this research, secondary data has been used mainly from library research and the latest articles and research from online databases. As a result, the mass media have special access to help or influence audience perceptions, values, focus and priorities. With such influence from the mass media, media audiences tend to form their own opinion or focus on topics that deserve to be included in their mental programs, and be considered on the agenda as responsible for influencing and shaping public opinion.

Merla Vladimir [6] conducted a study entitled “The Impact of Political Marketing on Party Democracy”. The study addresses the presence of political marketing in today’s parties, and its impact on the level and quality of democracy within this type of organizations with respect to the positive and negative aspects. The study was conducted by interviewing political candidates in the Romanian local elections. . The role of political marketing and its impact on the democratic system within a party has been questioned. The results indicate that another application of cross-party marketing is in which candidates must pay attention to the representative of their local communities and local colleagues and increase the power of the political class.

Research Method

This research is considered as a part of applied research in terms of results, because the researchers sought to design a model for determining the agenda of electoral policies with the political marketing approach of the country. In terms of purpose, this research is part of exploratory research and field research strategy. The methodology of this research is qualitative, using the Grounded Theory 1 (GTM) method or the data foundation method.

Samples and research tools

In this theoretical study, sampling was performed using snowball technique. Areas of study include members of parliament in previous periods, election experts from the Ministry of Interior, governorates and governorships, university professors and representatives of political groups in Isfahan province. The criterion for selecting the interviewees was based on their familiarity with the concept of agenda-setting of electoral policies with a political marketing approach. In this study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 17 experts, which resulted in 13 complete saturation interviews. The frequency of interviews shows that the interviewees have a work experience between 15 and 28 years and the age of the interviewees is between 36 and 58 years. Fifteen interviewees have a doctorate and two have a master’s degree.

Analysis of Research Data and Findings

In grounded theory, the analysis method is such that each part of the data is analyzed in parallel immediately after the collection of that part. The researcher then receives instructions from the original data for access to future data. These guidelines can come from underdeveloped categories, information gaps, or people with insight into the phenomenon. After obtaining these guidelines, the researcher enters the research environment to collect other data. The zigzag process in data collection and analysis continues until the researcher achieves saturation for categories [16].

In the following, the data analysis steps of this research are presented based on the Strauss and Corbin’s paradigm model.

The data analysis process began with Open Coding (OC). Open coding is “an analytical process by which concepts are identified and their features and dimensions are discovered in data” [17]. The next step, called Axial Coding (AC), is the process of relating categories to subcategories and linking categories at the level of features and dimensions. At this stage, after extracting the concepts and categories in open coding and by carefully examining and comparing the categories, the researcher combines the groups and related categories and then integrates them into larger groups or categories, as “axis” or “theme” categories. Then, he selects a category as “axial phenomenon” and relates other categories to the central phenomenon [16]. In this study, researchers identified “Agenda-setting of electoral policies with a political marketing approach” as the main phenomenon of the research and put it at the core of their theory as a prominent feature. They then linked other categories to this axial category. After determining the main phenomenon, the researcher enters the axial coding stage in which themes (peer categories) are placed in certain categories in order to communicate with the axial phenomenon. These categories are the “causal conditions” that affect the axial phenomenon, the “context conditions” and “intervening conditions”, the “strategies”, and the “outcomes” of the implementation of strategies. Therefore, these classifications are made by the researcher. In this model, causal conditions affect the axial phenomenon, the axial phenomenon and the underlying and intervening conditions affect the strategies, and the strategies affect the outcome, and ultimately the outcomes are perceived through the audience community.

In open coding, researchers seek to name the events or objects observed in the data and focus on understanding the features that make these events or objects unique. In general, in the coding stage, 893 significant concepts resulting from open coding and 15 axes resulting from axial coding were identified according to (Table 1).