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Enhancing Theory Development and Strengthening Knowledge Development in the Marketing Discipline. Rajan Varadarajan Texas A&M University Varadarajan@tamu.edu AMA 2010 Marketing Theory Preconference (August 13, 2010. Boston). Theory is the Oxygen of Academic Disciplines.

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enhancing theory development and strengthening knowledge development in the marketing discipline
Enhancing Theory Development and Strengthening Knowledge Development in the Marketing Discipline

Rajan Varadarajan

Texas A&M University

Varadarajan@tamu.edu

AMA 2010 Marketing Theory Preconference (August 13, 2010. Boston)

theory is the oxygen of academic disciplines
Theory is the Oxygen of Academic Disciplines

What Explains the Effectiveness of an Electric Fan as a Mosquito Repellant?

Carbon dioxide, sweat, lactic acid, body heat, wind velocity, and mosquito body mass.

“Studies have found that wind is an effective method against mosquitoes and other airborne pests. The reason seems obvious: it prevents them from circling and landing on you, like a windstorm keeping a plane from its descent. But that is not entirely the case. A fan dilutes and disperses the carbon dioxide you exhale.Carbon dioxide is one of the major chemicals that attract mosquitoes. The wind from a fan also cools you off. Sweat, lactic acid and body heat attract mosquitoes — factors that a fan can help minimize.

In one study in 2003, entomologists at Michigan State University used traps set up in a wetland by the C.D.C. to attract mosquitoes. Releasing carbon dioxide attracted more pests to the trap, and the more carbon dioxide, the more mosquitoes.

Using fan-generated wind of various speeds helped keep them away. But there was no linkbetween wind “velocity” and “mosquito body mass.””

Source: Anahad O’Connor, “The Claim: To Repel Mosquitoes, Use a House Fan,” New York Times, July 12, 2010.

session focus
Session Focus
  • How can theory development efforts be enhanced in the marketing discipline?
  • What factors currently impede theory development efforts in the marketing discipline?
slide5
1. How can theory development efforts be enhanced in the marketing discipline?
  • Theory development in the marketing discipline in the context of multidisciplinary business problems.
  • A broader perspective on the scope of theory development efforts and outcomes.
many important research questions are multidisciplinary
Many Important Research Questions Are Multidisciplinary

“Nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear security research are inherently multidisciplinary. Even at the most fundamental level, nearly all nuclear nonproliferation and security problems involve core aspects of technology, natural sciences, and social sciences. ... Relevant knowledge that typically must be brought to bear includes

  • nuclear engineering, mathematics, and computer science for radiation transport;
  • electrical engineering for signal analysis;
  • computer science for data integrity and verification;
  • physics for particle detection;
  • chemistry for environmental sample analysis;
  • mechanical engineering for robotics;
  • systems analysis for optimizing performance of layered defenses;
  • political science for policy analysis of technology decisions, including game theoretical modeling; and
  • psychology and social science for analysis of adversary intentions.”

Source: Anon

Note: Embellishment such as reformatting material presented as running text in the original source as bullet points are mine.

many important problems confronted by business organizations are multidisciplinary
Many Important Problems Confronted by Business Organizations Are Multidisciplinary

Theory development in the marketing discipline in the context of multidisciplinary business problems.

a broader perspective on the scope of theory development efforts and outcomes
A Broader Perspective on the Scope of Theory Development Efforts and Outcomes
  • Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • First Law of Thermodynamics, Second Law of Thermodynamics, Third Law of Thermodynamics
  • Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
  • Avogadro’s Hypothesis
  • Poincare Conjecture
  • Hubble Effect
  • …Axiom
  • … Conundrum
  • … Enigma
  • … Paradox
  • … Constant
  • … Quotient
  • … Distance
a broader perspective on the scope of theory development efforts and outcomes1
A Broader Perspective on the Scope of Theory Development Efforts and Outcomes

Some Eponyms in Physical Sciences

Some Eponyms in Marketing

Bass’ (1969) Diffusion Model

Howard and Sheth’s (1969) Theoryof Buyer Behavior

Kotler’s (1972) Generic Concept of Marketing

Bagozzi’s (1975) Exchange Paradigm

Hunt’ (1976) Three Dichotomies Framework of the Nature and Scope of Marketing

Bettman’s (1979) Information Processing Theory of Consumer Choice

Churchill’s (1978) Paradigm for Scale Development

Zaltman’s (1982) Methodology for Eliciting Theories-in-Use by Marketing Practitioners

Parasuraman, Zeithaml and Berry’s (1985) GAPS Model of Service Quality

Buzzell and Gale’s (1987)Profit Impact of Market Strategy (PIMS) Principles

Hunt’s (2000) Resource Advantage Theory of the Firm

  • Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle
  • Avogadro’s Hypothesis
  • Poincare Conjecture
  • Hubble Effect
  • …Axiom
  • … Conundrum
  • … Enigma
  • … Paradox
slide10
Efficient market hypothesis
  • Relatedness hypothesis
conceptual framework a building block in theory development
Conceptual Framework: A Building Block in Theory Development
  • “A framework, like a model, abstracts from reality. It endeavors to identify classes of relevant variables and their interrelationships. A framework is less rigorous than a model as it is sometimes agnostic about the particular form of the theoretical relationship that may exist” (Teece, Strategic Management Journal, 2007, p. 1320).
slide12
What factors currently impede theory development efforts in the marketing discipline?
  • Ambiguity and lack of precision
  • Marginalization of marketing theory in doctoral programs
environmental economics 101
Environmental Economics 101

“If there’s a single central insight in economics, it’s this: There are mutual gains from transactions between consenting adults. …

But what if a deal between consenting adults imposes costs on people who are not part of the exchange? What if you manufacture a widget and I buy it, to our mutual benefit, but the process of producing that widget involves dumping toxic sludge into other people’s drinking water? When there are “negative externalities” — costs that economic actors impose on others without paying a price for their actions — any presumption that the market economy, left to its own devices, will do the right thing goes out the window. So what should we do?Environmental economics is all about answering that question.” (Paul Krugman, “Building a Green Economy,” The New York Times Magazine, April 11, 2010. p. 36)

some specialized streams of inquiry in marketing
Some Specialized Streams of Inquiry In Marketing
  • Base of Pyramid (BOP) Marketing
  • Business-to-Business (B2B)Marketing
  • Cause-related Marketing
  • Direct Marketing
  • Ethnic Marketing
  • Experiences Marketing
  • Goods Marketing
  • Global Marketing
  • Green Marketing
  • High-technology Products Marketing
  • Ideas Marketing
  • Information Products Marketing
  • Internal Marketing
  • International Marketing
  • Internet Marketing
  • Interactive Marketing
  • Macromarketing
  • Megamarketing
  • People Marketing
  • Place Marketing
  • Services Marketing
  • Shopper Marketing
  • Social Marketing
  • Sports Marketing
  • Sustainable Marketing
  • Tourism Marketing
  • Word-of-Mouth Marketing (Referral Marketing)
slide15
Other Specialized Streams of Inquiry in Marketing (Including Some in the Genre of Flavor-of-the-month)
  • Buzz Marketing
  • Gorilla Marketing
  • Maxi Marketing
  • Network Marketing
  • Permission Marketing
  • Stealth Marketing
  • Techno Marketing
  • Turbo Marketing
  • Viral Marketing
  • ...

“Developing general marketing theory requires either integration of new lessons at a higher conceptual level than the theory already in existence, or more radically, a change in its very foundation.” Lovelock and Gummesson 2004, p. 22)

the flora and fauna of a knowledge ecosystem
The Flora and Fauna of a Knowledge Ecosystem
  • What will happen to the fauna (the animals of a given region or time) in a natural ecosystem if the flora(plants of a particular region or time) on which they feed were to disappear?
  • What might be the consequences of similar developments in a knowledge ecosystem (e.g. marketing knowledge ecosystem)? Specifically, the marginalization of marketing theory in doctoral programs in marketing.
  • Under the scenario of doctoral seminars on marketing theory being gradually phased out of doctoral programs, the next generation of scholars (the current generation of doctoral students) will come of age without having been exposed to the requisite skills repertoire to make important contributions to the advancement of marketing theory.
  • Under the scenario of leading scholarly journals in the marketing discipline not being receptive to publishing articles whose potential contribution is limited to advancing marketing theory (and lacking an empirical component), over time they may face gradual extinction from its knowledge ecosystem.
  • In turn, the next generation of scholars (the current generation of doctoral students) will come of age without having been exposed to such papers, and the requisite skills repertoire to think at a conceptual level

Source Credit: Adapted from observations by Dr. Yvonna Lincoln, University Distinguished Professor at Texas A&M University during an informal conversation (March 7, 2008).