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Abstract

The Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science was started 40years ago, at a time when “marketing in society” issues were capturing much attention from marketing scholars. Since that time both the field and this journal have grown and matured, but the marketing in society area has become somewhat removed from the dominant perspectives of marketing scholarship. This paper provides an historical perspective on these developments and offers an examination of the fundamental role of societal interests in our field. Six basic topics are explored: (1) the hundred years of history of marketing thought development, as reflected in the “4 Eras” of marketing thought; (2) the ebbs and flows of attention to marketing in society topics during these 4 Eras; (3) two illustrations of difficulties brought about by this area’s move to sideline status in the field; (4) our concept of the “aggregate marketing system” as a basis for appreciating the centrality of this research area for the field of marketing; (5) the nature of marketing in society research today; and (6) a discussion of several research challenges and opportunities for the future. KeywordsMarketing history–Academic marketing–Marketing in society–Definition of marketing–Public policy research–Aggregate marketing system
Expanding our understanding of marketing in society
William L. Wilkie &Elizabeth S. Moore
Received: 21 July 2011 / Accepted: 27 July 2011 / Published online: 13 August 2011
#Academy of Marketing Science 2011
Abstract The Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science was started 40 years ago, at a time when
marketing in societyissues were capturing much atten-
tion from marketing scholars. Since that time both the field
and this journal have grown and matured, but the marketing
in society area has become somewhat removed from the
dominant perspectives of marketing scholarship. This paper
provides an historical perspective on these developments
and offers an examination of the fundamental role of
societal interests in our field. Six basic topics are explored:
(1) the hundred years of history of marketing thought
development, as reflected in the 4Erasof marketing
thought; (2) the ebbs and flows of attention to marketing in
society topics during these 4 Eras; (3) two illustrations of
difficulties brought about by this areas move to sideline
status in the field; (4) our concept of the aggregate
marketing systemas a basis for appreciating the centrality
of this research area for the field of marketing; (5) the
nature of marketing in society research today; and (6) a
discussion of several research challenges and opportunities
for the future.
Keywords Marketing history .Academic marketing .
Marketing in society .Definition of marketing .
Public policy research .Aggregate marketing system
We are pleased to participate in recognizing the fortieth
anniversary of the Journal of the Academy of Marketing
Science (JAMS) and to pay our respects to its fundamental
role within scholarship in marketing. Our comments here
are based on an extended project in which we have been
inquiring into the nature and extent of marketing thought.
We have learned a great deal while pursuing this work
one significant lesson for us is how very fundamental and
important are the issues studied within the marketing in
societyarea.
As readers would likely agree, however, the importance
and centrality of marketing in society are not recognized by
all sectors of marketing academia today, an oversight that
we wish to address in this article. As shown in Table 1,we
plan to cover six major topics, which range from the past to
the future, cover deficits as well as contributions, and focus
on challenges and opportunities within the academic
enterprise. We begin by placing the field of marketing in
historical perspective.
A brief historical reprise: the 4 Erasof marketing
thought development
Table 2outlines what we (Wilkie and Moore 2003) have
defined as the 4 Eras of Marketing Thoughtin the United
States since the fields formal beginnings approximately
110 years ago.
1
Tab le 2sfirstrow,Pre-Marketing,
acknowledges that considerable thought about marketing-
related phenomena (e.g., concepts of markets, marginal
1
Interested readers may download the article Scholarly Research in
Marketing: Exploring the 4 Eras of Thought Developmentdirectly
from: http://web2.business.nd.edu/Faculty/wilkie.html.
The authors wish to thank Augustus Amato for his assistance in
gathering information for this article.
W. L. Wilkie (*):E. S. Moore
University of Notre Dame,
393 Mendoza College of Business,
Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA
e-mail: wilkie.1@nd.edu
E. S. Moore
e-mail: emoore@nd.edu
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
DOI 10.1007/s11747-011-0277-y
analysis, value, production, humans as social and economic
entities, competition, and role of governments) had been
undertaken within the field of economics prior to the formal
beginnings of the marketing field (e.g., Dixon 2002; Shaw
1995). As of the turn of the 20th century, therefore, the area
that would become marketingwas still firmly ensconced
within the field of economics.
Era I: Founding the Field of Marketing(19001920)
The first era of formal marketing thought began shortly
after the turn of the 20th century, when more structured
academic attention started to be given to a specific portion
of the business system that was evolving and assuming ever
greater prominence in the marketplacethe area of market
distribution. Economists in general had not been handling
this topic, as the thrust of traditional economic theory had
focused on production (and thus land, labor, and capital) as
the creator of economic value, and had placed little
emphasis on services of the sort provided through distribu-
tion.
2
The marketing field began to take on its own distinct
identity when professors at a number of universities across
the country independently began to develop new courses to
examine various aspects of the marketing system, including
distributive and regulative industries(at the University of
Michigan), the marketing of products(University of
Pennsylvania), methods of marketing farm products
(University of Wisconsin), and mercantile institutions
(New York University) (Bartels 1951,1988). Substantively,
these courses reflected the realities of their time and place
(e.g., agriculture was extremely important in these times,
with significant attention paid to distribution of farm
products, thus it is no happenstance that Big Ten universi-
ties have long been leading contributors to marketing
scholarship).
As Era I progressed, from 19101920, articles in
economics journals and free-standing books helped the
fledgling field of marketing to begin to create distinct
conceptual approaches to knowledge development
(Bussiere 2000;Savitt1990). Three of these later came
to be known as the commodity approach (focusing on all
marketing actions involved in a particular product
category), the institutional approach (focusing on de-
scribing the operations of a specialized type of marketing
agency, such as a wholesaler or a broker), and the functional
approach (focusing on the purposes served by various
marketing activities).
Era II: Formalizing the Field(19201950)
During Era II, marketing moved from an ill-formed, nascent
area to a flourishing, vibrant academic field. The rapid
development of the field during this period actually
accompanied (and reflected) a number of profound societal
changesin only 30 years, the United States moved
through boom and prosperity in the 1920s, to the Great
Depression of the 1930s, to the cataclysmic World War II
and into the postwar period of the 1940s. In many respects
this was a remarkable time in the nations history. As the
world shifted and evolved in Era II, so did the marketing
system. Mass production capabilities required more com-
plex and varied distribution systems, as well as more
sophisticated understanding of tools to influence mass
consumer demand. Technological developments led to the
introduction of a vast array of new products. For example,
as electricity was brought into American homes (53% of
homes by 1925 from only 8% in 1908), innovations such as
the electric iron, washing machine, refrigerator, and vacuum
cleaner eased the lives of the average consumer (Cross
2000; Lebergott 1993). Consumerschoices also expanded
exponentially via newly convenient packaged goods,
delivered in new retailing formats such as the supermarket
(circa 1930). The resurgence of the Consumer Move-
mentin the 1920s and 1930s was centered in part on
frustrations with prices, the quality of some products,
and a shortage of product information (and resulting
2
This view was somewhat understandable when markets were entirely
localized. By the turn of the 20th century in the United States,
however, immigration, migration to urban centers, production and
technology gains, as well as improvements in transport and storage
were combining to dramatically change the state of the marketplace,
with the growth and evolution of distribution systems developing
apace. Thus there was a genuine need for some economists to step
forward to embrace and then explain those elements of this new world
that were not incorporated into the body of thought of the time.
I. A Brief Historical Reprise: The 4 Erasof Marketing Thought Development
II. Treatment of the Societal Domain: Ebbs and Flows across the 4 Eras
III. Two Illustrative Concerns of To the Sidelines
IV. The Aggregate Marketing Systemas a Central Organizing Concept
V. Research on Marketing in Society Today
VI. Research Challenges and Opportunities for the Future
Table 1 Six topics related to
understanding marketing in
society research
54 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
consumer confusion), as well as a growing use of
emotion in advertising (Allen 1952;Cross2000). All of
these difficulties were exacerbated by the Great Depres-
sion, then wrenched into a different domestic reality by
World War II, and finally launched into the dawn of an
uncertain new world as the postwar period ensued.
The availability of an academic infrastructureformal
organizations, scheduled conferences, and chronicles of
knowledge developments (e.g., newsletters and journals)
is virtually a necessary condition for a vibrant body of
thought in a field. The academic field of marketing became
aformalizedareaofstudyduringEraIIwiththese
developments. Until the early 1920s, the American Eco-
nomic Associations (AEA) conference had served as a
setting for a small number of marketing persons to meet for
discussion, while the AEAs journal had published a small
number of formal articles in this fledgling field (Bussiere
2000). Then, in 1925, the Journal of Retailing was
launched at New York University.
3
In 193637, the
American Marketing Association was formed and its
Journal of Marketing began publication (Bartels 1988;
Kerin 1996).
4
The value of the AMAs infrastructure was
quickly apparent, as the Journal of Marketing published
some 500 articles in the first decade alone (Kerin 1996).
The early textbooks of Era II represented much of the
mainstream body of academic thought, as marketing
journals did not yet exist in numbers. The primary emphasis
in the Era II textbooks was on the development and
integration of generally accepted marketing principles.
Over time, the functional approach especially gained wide
acceptance among marketing thinkers. Many functions
were identified, falling under three general categories: (1)
physically supplying the market, (2) creating opportunities
for exchange, and (3) undertaking auxiliary or facilitating
functions.
5
Grounded in economic theory, functional anal-
ysis also extended interest to the efficiency with which the
functions were being performed. As Era II was ending,
academic books and journal articles began to seriously
address a new topicwhat could the role of theory and
3
The Journal of Retailing was published on a quarterly basis and
contained primarily short articles (15 pages) aimed at understanding
the management of retail functions and processes (e.g., The
Merchandise DivisionWhy it Exists, and Its Job(Mench 1925);
Some Observations on Merchandise Control(Straus 1926)). Thus,
for the retailing sector of the field, a valuable communications vehicle
had become available.
4
In 1924 the National Association of Teachers of Marketing and
Advertising was formed, while in 1930 the American Marketing
Society, representing the interests of practitioners, came into being.
This Society began the American Marketing Journal in 1934, with a
name change in 1935 to the National Marketing Review. In 1936
1937 the teaching and practitioner associations merged to form the
American Marketing Association (AMA), and the new groups
publication was renamed the Journal of Marketing (JM).
5
Though the functional approach achieved wide currency among
marketing thinkers in Era II, lists of functions did vary across authors.
See Hunt and Goolsby (1988) for an excellent further discussion.
Table 2 The 4 Erasof marketing thought
Era Distinctive characteristics
(Before 1900) Pre-MarketingNo distinguishing field of study: issues embedded within the field of economics.
I. (19001920) Founding the FieldFocus on marketing as distribution.
Emphasis on defining the purview of marketings activities as an economic institution (derived
from the field of economics).
Development of first courses with marketingin title.
II. (19201950) Formalizing the FieldDevelopment of generally accepted foundations or principles of marketing.
Establishment of knowledge development infrastructure for the field: professional association
(AMA), conferences, journals (Journal of Retailing and Journal of Marketing).
III. (19501980) A Paradigm Shift
Marketing, Management and the
Sciences
Growth boom in U.S. mass market and marketing body of thought.
Two perspectives emerge to dominate the marketing mainstream:
(1) the managerial viewpoint
(2) the behavioral and quantitative sciences as keys to future knowledge development.
Knowledge infrastructure undergoes major expansion and evolution in keeping with these
changes (JAMS begins 1973).
IV. (1980present) The Shift Intensifies:
A Fragmentation of the Mainstream
New challenges arise in business world: short-term financial focus, downsizing, globalization,
re-engineering.
Dominant perspectives are questioned in philosophy of science debates.
Publish or perishpressure intensifies on academics.
Knowledge infrastructure expands and diversifies into specialized interest areas.
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 55
science be for this field? This development presaged a
major shift in the future, to Era III.
Era III: A Paradigm Shift in the Marketing Mainstream:
Marketing, Management, and the Sciences(19501980)
The third era was very much built around the arrival of
mass marketing dominance and a period of booming
growth in the United Statesmarketing system. The
infrastructure and body of marketing thought likewise
expanded in geometric fashion during these 30 years.
(Note: because this era presaged the modern world of
marketing scholarship, it is here discussed in more detail
than the others.) Marketing academia was fueled by the
enormous growth experienced in university business edu-
cation programs, as represented by awards of nearly 2
million business Bachelors degrees and almost one-half
million MBA degrees during Era III. Overall, the field of
marketing was growing rapidly during Era III.
The new mainstream A new mainstream for marketing
scholarship was formed during this timea mainstream that
was (1) steeped in science as the basis for marketing thought
development and (2) devoted to viewing the field from the
perspective of the marketing manager, to help him or her in
undertaking successful marketing programs. In earlier times
the efforts of marketing thinkers were somehow more
idiosyncratic: some leading academics seemed to be more
clearly standing apart in order to observe and describe the
operations of marketing. From this perspective they could
offer expert, empathetic, and yet objective and sometimes
critical evaluations of actions being taken by marketers. As
Myers et al. (1980, p. 96) summarize: The study of
marketing as an interesting subject to think about and reflect
on gave way to a much more action-oriented view of the
training of potential marketing managers.
The turn to a managerial perspective Anumberoffactors
were influential in bringing about the shift to viewing the field
from the vantage point of the manager. First, this perspective
certainly brought professional and vocational appeal to
university courses, in the sense of directly preparing students
for jobs they would be undertaking after graduation. Beyond
this, the field had been experiencing a growing impatience on
the part of some thinkers, such as Wroe Alderson at Wharton,
with what they saw as a too-heavy reliance on description of
marketing institutions and activities, as opposed to efforts to
develop theory in the field.
External factors were also very significant at this time.
The world of marketing was now dealing with an exploding
mass market. This was driven by pent-up demand from the
war yearsrestrictions on supplies of consumer goods, as
well as an explosive growth in population. The Baby
Boomhad begun in 1946, bringing an additional four
million babies per year, which began to strain institutional
and market capacities as it flowed through its life cycle,
until a total of 76 million new consumers had arrived in
19 years. In addition, marketers faced new opportunities
through significant infrastructure developments for distri-
bution (such as the new interstate highway system), new
regions experiencing substantial growth, a shift to suburban
living (altering the nature of locations in the retailing
sector), and the development of a new communicator
televisionand a national audience toward which to
advertise each evening during prime time.Overall, the
scope of the real world of marketing in the United States
was becoming much larger and much more national in
character. This changing world offered huge new opportu-
nities, but at the same time it demanded significant
adaptations, trials, and risks by companies and their
marketing managers.
The strength of the shift to the managerial perspective in
marketing during the early portion of Era III is strikingly
evident in the burst of significant new concepts that were
introduced during this time. It is startling to realize just how
many of thesenow almost a half-century oldare still
basic to the field today:
&The marketing concept (John McKitterick 1957)
&Market segmentation as a managerial strategy (Wendell
Smith 1956)
&The marketing mix (Neil Borden 1964)
&The 4 Ps (E. Jerome McCarthy 1960)
&Brand image (e.g., Burleigh Gardner and Sidney
Levy 1955)
&Marketing management as analysis, planning, and
control (Philip Kotler 1967)
&Marketing myopia (Theodore Levitt 1960)
The shift toward the managerial perspective of marketing
was also much enhanced by several key textbooks appear-
ing during the early portion of Era III. Jones and Shaw
(2002) identify three textbooks in particular, by Wroe
Alderson (Marketing Behavior and Executive Action,
1957), John Howard (Marketing Management: Analysis
and Planning,1957), and E. Jerome McCarthy (Basic
Marketing: A Managerial Approach,1960), plus a readings
book by Eugene Kelley and William Lazer (Managerial
Marketing: Perspectives and Viewpoints,1958).
The emergence of the sciences in marketing The sciences
arrived in stages, slowly during the 1950s (the journal
Management Science was started in 1954), increasingly
during the 1960s, and, as PhD programs completed their
adjustments, in a dominant manner through the 1970s. By
the end of Era III there was no question that the future of
the mainstream of marketing thought would be governed by
56 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
persons having these forms of scientific training and these
basic perspectives about the field.
The tale behind the rise of marketing science is particularly
interesting. It was significantly enhanced in the United States
by two external factors: (1) a national effort to infuse math and
statistics into business schools, and (2) the development of the
computer as a research tool. In the early 1950s the Ford
Foundation began a multi-year initiative to infuse scientific
theory, methods, and analysis into the research agendas, PhD
educations, and teaching approaches of the faculty members at
work in American business schools. The rationale, reflected in
the Gordon-Howell Report (1959), was that business
professors were teaching business in a largely descriptive
fashion representing the past, not the future, and that they
were doing so in part because they had simply never been
trained to do anything else. The centerpiece of the effort was
a special year-long program in 1959 (The Harvard/MIT
Institute of Basic Mathematics) in which a select group of
promising young business faculty members was tutored
deeply for a year by the mathematics faculty. The success of
this effort was felt strongly, and almost immediately, as the
programs marketing participantsincluding Frank Bass,
Robert Buzzell, Philip Kotler, William Lazer, E. Jerome
McCarthy, Edgar Pessemier, Donald Shawver, and Abraham
Schuchmanreturned to their universities and went to
work.
6
In the ensuing years this group contributed to the
diffusion of the new quantitative perspective through journal
articles, influential books, seminal conferences on research
theory and methods, and by training the next generation of
thought leaders in this new approach. A second crucial factor
in the success of marketing science was the rapid develop-
ment of computer technology in both industry and academia.
This new tool allowed researchers to undertake sophisticated
efforts to model complex marketing problems, as with
optimization models of physical distribution, sales force
allocation, and advertising budgeting. In addition, new forms
of multivariate statistical analyses could now be applied to
large banks of information on the growing mass marketplace.
No program similar to the Harvard/MIT math training
was available for the behavioral sciences, however, so that
marketing professors who had not been trained in the
underlying disciplines of psychology and sociology had to
attempt to learn on their own, or to hire new faculty from
these fields. Acceptance into the mainstream of marketing
thought was somewhat slower for the consumer behavior
area, though it was a natural response to the pressing needs
for insights about the mass consumer marketplace
insights for use in new product planning, advertising,
retailing, and other marketing decision areas. The growth
in computers was also a positive here, as it allowed for
large-scale consumer surveys and the dissemination of new
empirical research findings, their causes and implications.
Growth in the academic infrastructure Era III experienced
a sharp increase in PhD degree production in business
generallyif only 10% of these were in marketing, 1,100
new potential thought contributors entered the field during
this time. This addition of many new marketing academics
meant that the nature of marketings knowledge infrastruc-
ture needed to significantly expand to accommodate these
new forces. The first major research journal to appearthe
Journal of Advertising Research in 1960was driven by
the practitioner community. Shortly thereafter, in 1964, the
Journal of Marketing Research was begun by the American
Marketing Association. In 1967, the Journal of Consumer
Affairs began, offering an outlet for studies on the consumer
marketplace. Then, in 1973, the Journal of the Academy of
Marketing Science made its debut, followed in 1974 by the
Journal of Consumer Research. Thus, by the end of Era III
the number of vehicles for advancing marketing thought
had more than tripled.
In addition, special conferences and workshops began to be
held on behavioral and quantitative frontier topics, as well as
on marketing strategy issues. New associations were formed
to afford increased opportunities for communicating about
research ideas and resultsthese included the Marketing
Collegewithin The Institute of Management Science
(TIMS), the Association for Consumer Research, and the
Academy of Marketing Science. Another important infra-
structure development also occurred in 1961, when a new
think tank, the Marketing Science Institute, was formed in
Philadelphia (later moved to Boston and Harvard) as
collaboration between 29 sponsoring firms and leading
marketing academic thinkers. MSI was an interesting and
bold effort: over the ensuing years the research it stimulated
and supported became a major factor in advancing thought in
the marketing field (Kerin 1996; Bloom 1987).
Characteristics of Era III knowledge development Era III
was a time of great expansion of marketing scholarship, one
in which growth and innovation were much welcomed. In
retrospect, the speed with which thought leaders adopted
and worked with new ideas is a significant feature of the
period.
7
To be sure, not all concepts, theories, and methods
were original with marketing thinkers: unabashed borrow-
ing and trial was characteristic, at times followed by further
6
As an aside of interest, the senior author of this paper was an
undergraduate undecided between a liberal arts and mathematics
major when he was recruited by the recently returned Professor E.
Jerome McCarthy into a new minor, Management Science,that he
was instituting in Notre Dames College of Business Administration.
Some twenty students from various fields entered the new program,
and seven went on for PhD work in business fields.
7
A detailed look at Era III topics is available as Figure 6 in Wilkie
and Moore (2003).
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 57
applications and refinements. Also, the emerging power of
the behavioral and quantitative sciences was quite evident,
as was the way in which they merge within a larger
marketing researchsphere. It is also important to note
that the academic training required to contribute to many of
the Era III topics had changed dramatically from Era II.
This meant that the persons leading the research thrusts of
late Era III were either new to the field, or had re-trained
themselves in the Ford Foundation program or elsewhere.
Finally, the heterogeneity represented by such advances was
very high, calling for increasing specialization by individual
researchers working to push back the frontiers of knowledge.
This is the characteristic that drove the development of the
next period of marketing thought, Era IV.
Era IV: The Shift IntensifiesA Fragmentation
of the Mainstream(1980present)
The overall character of Era IV The fourth era, which
extends from 1980 to the present, is characterized by a
much changed face of the field, brought about by
adaptations and reactions to the powerful shifts in market-
ing during Era III. In a sense, it appears that the pressures
that had been building on the mainstream of marketing
thought finally reached a stress level that demanded relief
through the infrastructure, much as an over-full dam might
burst so that the pent-up waters can find their new courses
and destinations. The new directions taken during Era IV
have had far-reaching consequences for both the marketing
mainstream and for the fields treatment of marketing and
society.
The pressures build and the field responds By 1980, three
powerful forces were bearing on the academic infrastructure
to create Era IV:
&A substantial increase in persons pursuing publish or
perishtracks in marketing academia.
&Pressures for increasingly specialized outlets to reflect
the technical languages, methods, and shared paradigms
at work at the frontiers of research.
&The globalization of business education, bringing new
thinkers from around the world into marketing.
In examining these developments, we were shocked to find
a poignant illustrationthe burst of significant new
marketing journals that began to appear in 1980. The new
entries, by year, were:
&Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management,1980
&Journal of Macromarketing, 1981
&Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 1982
&Marketing Science, 1982
&Journal of Consumer Marketing, 1983
&Psychology and Marketing, 1984
&Journal of Product Innovation and Management, 1984
&International Journal of Research in Marketing, 1984
In just 5 short years then, from 1980 through 1984, the
number of research-based marketing journal outlets more
than doubled (from 7 to 15).
8
The academic publication
infrastructure that had slowly evolved over the previous
45 years had now changed pace and direction. Further,
these new venues had been independently developed,
suggesting the presence of some broader factors at work.
For example, most of these new entries were directly aimed
at narrower constituencies within the marketing field,
reflecting a decisive arrival of research specialization in
marketing. Other changes in the academic infrastructure
favoring specialization soon followed, notably the forma-
tion of the American Marketing AssociationsSpecial
Interest Groupstructure, and a growth in single-topic
workshops, symposia, and research campsat which
specialists gather to pursue advanced developments.
The field continues to grow and evolve One of the major
trends during Era IV has been a dramatic globalization of
business concepts, as entire blocs of nations moved toward
market-based systems and away from centralized command
and control. For example, the MBA degree is now the
largest single field of study for graduate program applica-
tions in China, and numerous business schools have been
established in other transitional nations.
Within the United States, increasing numbers of students
have been pursuing higher education in business. In 1980,
at the close of Era III, over 185,000 Bachelors degrees
were awarded in business in the United States. During Era
IV this number has almost doubled, reaching over 335,000
degrees awarded in 2008. MBA growth has been even more
impressive during Era IV. Some 55,000 U.S. MBA degrees
were awarded in 1980, at the close of Era III, and now that
number has nearly tripled, to some 155,000 MBA degrees
awarded in 2008. Meanwhile doctoral degrees in business
have kept pace, increasing from over 767 to nearly 2,100
during these same years (Statistical Abstract of the United
States,2011, Tables 298300). This demand for business
education has contributed to a continuing increase in
academic positions available in business schools, and a
concomitant increase (assuming a publish or perish reward
8
Of course there are many types of publication outlets, so definition
may be an issue for this calculation. To be clear, the seven existing
marketing-related journals we used in this assumption were the
Journal of Marketing, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science,
Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research,
Journal of Advertising Research, Journal of Retailing, and Journal
of Consumer Affairs. Generalized publications such as Harvard
Business Review and Management Science were not included here.
58 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
system in many universities) in marketing academics
wishing to contribute to the body of thought during Era IV.
The most important impact of globalization on the world
of marketing thought has not been felt through courses
themselves, but rather through the dramatic increase in
international scholars contributing new theories, concepts,
and findings. Earlier in Era IV, one major source of
international contributions was the increasing number of
persons born outside the United States who attended U.S.
doctoral programs and began to add to marketing knowl-
edge. Many of these persons remained in this country as
faculty members and productive researchers, while others
moved to other nations as business faculty positions
became increasingly numerous and attractive there. Our
analyses of the authorship of articles and the membership
on journal editorial boards over a fifteen-year period in Era
IV showed a strongly increasing presence of international
scholars on both measures for four major publications in the
field; in fact international scholars reached a majority in
total articles contributed as of 2002. In conducting these
assessments it also appeared that the sizes of journal
editorial boards increased, the number of authors per paper
increased, and that the number of single-authored papers
decreased as Era IV progressed. In preparing the present
article we undertook parallel analyses of JAMS and found:
&The JAMS editorial board expanded from 71 members
in 1980 to 109 members in 2010.
&The proportion of international scholars on the JAMS
editorial board (defined here as persons believed to
have been born or who are now working outside the U.S.)
has increased from about 25% in 1980 to 37% in 2010
(n.b., given the increase in size of the board, the
absolute gain is greater).
&The proportion of single-authored papers decreased
significantly across the era: deleting special issues and
special sections from the analysis, in the 5 years 1980
1984 single-authored articles represented 36% of
articles in JAMS, whereas in the most recent period
(20062011) they now account for only 9%.
&Relatedly, the average number of authors per article has
also increased, from 1.9 at the start of the era to 2.6
recently, with an increasing trend apparent currently.
Finally, Era IV has also been a time of remarkable
technological advances that have strongly impacted both
the real world of marketing and the world of academia. The
Internet is most apparent, providing huge gains in commu-
nication potentials across the nation and across the world.
Building off of technology as well, social media has
transformed marketer-consumer relationships and has ad-
vanced possibilities of consumer co-creation as well as
powers of word of mouth. Marketplaceshave trans-
formed into marketspaces,and many new topics have
appeared to be investigated by marketing academics.
Electronic journal databases have vastly improved access
to the web of knowledge,and that web has been enlarged
greatly by the continued growth in number of marketing
journal outlets. The ARC section of the American Market-
ing Associations website currently lists 117 journals for
this field, a number that is clearly too large to be regularly
read by todays scholar.
9
Thus the ranking of journals has
also become important, as a means of identifying those with
broadest thought impact (Baumgartner and Pieters 2003;
Hult et al. 2009). Finally, as discussed in a separate section
here, doctoral programs in marketing have continued to
increase their stress on sophisticated research training, and
on production of journal articles, even early in the program.
The net result today, after 30 years of Era IV, is a field of
study that is much larger, much more extended across the
globe, much more active in sophisticated research pursuits,
much more specializedandaccordinglymuchmore
fragmentedthan was the case at the end of Era III.
Barring unforeseen events, we anticipate that these trends
will continue into the future of the field.
Treatment of the societal domain across the 4 Eras
As might be inferred from our coverage of the 4 Eras, rather
than a steady, cumulative advance of a unified body of
marketing thought, our field has seen periodic shifts in
dominance of prevailing modes of thinking. This has
clearly been the case for societal issues in marketing, as
well discuss in this section.
Attention to societal concerns in Eras I and II: up and up
Within both Era I and Era II the societal domain was a
central issue in the body of marketing thought. Focus was
strongly on the distribution sector, with stress directed at
explicating the economic rationales for these increasingly
complex systems evolving within the society of the time.
Reflecting their disciplinary training in economics, writers
of the time placed strong emphasis on understanding
markets and their operations. In contrast to todays focus
on managerial decision making, these approaches were
more abstract and clearly encompassed societal concerns, as
Shaw (1912) illustrates: (1) The accepted system of
distribution was built up on the satisfying of staple needs
this sort of activity has contributed to the progress of
civilization(p. 708), (2) Society can no more afford an ill-
adjusted system of distribution than it can inefficient and
9
See Marketingpower.com/Community/ARC/Pages/Research/Journals/
Other, accessed 7/13/2011.
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 59
wasteful methods of production(p. 706), (3) The middle-
man is a social necessity(p. 737). This stress on economic
efficiency stimulated exploration of the roles being played by
marketers and the government. For example, the passage of
the Clayton Act and creation of the Federal Trade Commis-
sion, both in 1914, reflected serious societal concern with
pricing and other competitive behaviors within the growing
capitalist economy (e.g., Murphy and Wilkie 1990).
Overall, it is instructive to note that the thought leaders
of Era I were quite willing to use economic efficiency
criteria to express negative as well as positive judgments
about marketing. The first eras literature was also willing
to raise and address larger questions, such as:
&Are there too many middlemen? Does distribution cost
too much?
&Does advertising raise or lower prices?
&What control, if any, should be exerted over new
combinations in distribution?
&Of the total costs paid by consumers, which elements
are desirable? Indispensable?
&What about non-essentialservices such as credit
availabilityshould these be eliminated?
In the absence of elaborate theory, data, or structure, the
authors then sought to provide non-empirical but relatively
objective answers about these social issues reflecting their
evolving marketing system.
This central role continued in Era II. The larger events of
the timesthe economic depression of the 1930s and
World War II in the early 1940ssparked special interest in
exigencies of the marketing and society relationship among
thinkers in this field. Chapters were devoted to societal
issues in most textbooks of the time, with three of the most
common issues discussed being pricing practices, costs of
distribution, and value of advertising. The Journal of
Marketing (JM), moreover, contributed greatly to the
development of thought in the field beginning in 1936
although it was only available for about half of this era
(19361950), 146 articles and commentaries relating to
marketing and society appeared in during this time.
10
During World War II, moreover, the proportion of JM
attention to marketing and society peaked for the entire
period we have studied. With the country galvanized by the
war effort, according to our calculations 55% of JMs
content was devoted to societal issues. At the end of the
war, contributors to the journal focused significant attention
on postwar planning and analysis. Underpinning these
efforts was an explicit recognition that the efficiency and
performance of the marketing system played a critical role
in ensuring economic prosperity. New coverage was
dedicated to topics such as the growth of the mass market,
employment, consumer savings, and industrial develop-
ment, along with a return to some older issues such as
resale price maintenance, agricultural grade-labeling, and
false advertising.
To illustrate the centrality of the marketing as societal
systemconcept during these times, consider these quotes
from two marketing thinkers who clearly viewed their
scholarly and professional roles more broadly than many
marketing academics do today:
It is the responsibility of the marketing profession,
therefore, to provide a marketing view of competition in
order to guide efforts at regulation and to revitalize
certain aspects of the science of economics.For
surely no one is better qualified to play a leading part in
the consideration of measures designed for the regula-
tion of competition. (Alderson 1937, pp. 189, 190)
[M]arketing is not primarily a means for garnering
profits for individuals. It is, in the larger, more vital
sense, an economic instrument used to accomplish
indispensable social ends.... A marketing system
designed solely for its social effectiveness would
move goods with a minimum of time and effort to
deficit points [and] provide a fair compensation,
and no more, for the efforts of those engaged in the
activity. At the same time it would provide the
incentive needed to stimulate constant improvements
in its methods. These are the prime requisites of social
effectiveness. (Breyer 1934, p. 192)
Attention to societal concerns in Era III:
down, then strongly up
The relatively high and consistent level of attention to
marketing in society in Eras I and II shifted sharply at the
start of Era III, as the new major thrustsan infusion of
both a scientific perspective and a managerial view of
marketinghad other priorities, and appear to be largely
indifferent to the study of marketing in society. During the
1950s and early 1960s the proportion of marketing and
society articles in the Journal of Marketing declined
noticeably, as the fields authors turned their attention to
new managerial topics, and to the growing area of
marketing research.
Then, in the second half of the 1960s, a powerful new
interest in marketing and society began to emerge, reflect-
ing the tenor of the times. Social unrest was spreading
10
This total is based on listings in the Journal of Marketings
cumulative index under subject headings Government Issues, Social
Marketing, and Social, Political and Economic Issues for volumes 1
15. We should note however, that this is a conservative number
because these listings tend not to include the many articles devoted to
the role of marketing in a national emergency, specifics on the war
effort, and postwar planning and analysis.
60 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
across society (e.g., issues such as civil rights, the role of
government and the military-industrial complexin waging a
controversial war in Vietnam, and assassinations of national
leaders and role models). Thoughtful people associated with
business increasingly began to examine these issues, evidenc-
ing concern with the equity and operation of their society,
including the social responsibility of business.The American
Marketing Association formed a Public Policy Division and
established committees to deal with such topics as inner-city
marketing and minority enterprise. The Journal of Marketing
published a special issue, Marketings Changing Social/
Environmental Role(July 1971), featuring articles on such
topics as planned social change, recycling, food prices and
vulnerable groups, self-regulation, and ecology. Consumers
also became a featured area, as behavioral marketing
academics were spurred to examine the possibilities of putting
their theories and methods to use in the service of poor and
vulnerable consumers, or for better health (e.g., cigarettes,
alcohol, drug use), or for better, wiser, or more efficient
consumer purchases. This movement was greatly enhanced in
the political arena in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy
announced the Consumer Bill of Rights.
11
The marketing and society stream of work continued to
sharply accelerate throughout the 1970s, up to the end of
Era III. Some 20 readings books on this topic appeared
between 1966 and 1974 (Bartels 1988, p. 220). Also, many
in the field approved of broadening the concept of
marketing (Kotler and Levy 1969a,b; Luck 1969), thus
setting the stage for developing social marketing, a research
area that would focus on the work of not-for-profit groups
and government agencies concerned with effective inter-
ventions into social problem areas.
12
In addition, a number of academics, typically with the new
consumer behavior training, began to study the area of public
policy.
13
For example, in 1972 the senior author of this article
went (on leave from Purdue) to the Federal Trade Commis-
sions Bureau of Consumer Protection as its first in-house
consultantfrom the field of marketing. In addition to
working on legal cases with attorneys and economists, he
developed a rotating consultancy program for further academ-
ics to serve in the future. During the next 10 years, some 30
marketing faculty worked in this capacity, contributing
significantly to the development of research in the public
policy sphere (see Murphy 1990 for an interesting summary
of this program). FTC issues in consumer protection thus
became a major focus within the marketing journals and
conferences of the 1970s, and marketing academics played
key roles in an influential Consumer Information Task Force
Reportfor the FTC.
14
By the end of the decade, reflecting
the impact of the marketing academics, the FTC was spending
$1 million per year on marketing research, under the guidance
of a talented marketing academic, Kenneth Bernhardt.
This burst of public policy research during the 1970s
resulted in 550 published articles in those 10 years (Gundlach
and Wilkie 1990).
15
This is many more publications than had
appeared during the second half of Era II, a period earlier
described as highly involved with marketing and society
issues. The primary reason for this difference, of course, is
the vastly increased thought infrastructure and number of
marketing contributorsthe compilations here represent
many more outlets (12 journals plus conferences), versus
only two journals during Era II. Thus we may conclude that
the proportional representation of marketing and society
articles was lower during the end of Era III, but the absolute
number of marketing and society contributions was much
higher, and it was again a major topic of interest to the
marketing field. Marketing and society was a vibrant,
flourishing field in marketing as Era III drew to a close.
Attention to societal concerns in Era IV:
to the sidelines, but now emerging?
The fourth era (1980present) has seen a paradoxical
evolution of interest in and coverage of marketing and
society. First, within the larger field of marketing this
12
Some elements of broadeningwere controversial (e.g., Kotler and
Levy 1969b; Luck 1969), and JAMS played a role in advancing this
discussion (e.g., Ferrell and Lucas 1987; Laczniak and Michie 1979)
13
This movement was greatly assisted by a new program sponsored
by the AACSB and the Sears-Roebuck Foundation, to place
approximately 20 business faculty members annually in government
agencies for year-long periods of consulting work and study. Similar
to the effects of the Ford Foundations mathematics program, this led
to significant diffusion of new research perspectives during the
decade.
11
See Lampman (1988) for a first-person account. This important
declaration established that, within the framework of our society,
consumers have the right to expect product safety, to be fully
informed, to have freedom of choice, and to have a voice in the rules
for the marketplace. Thus marketers were presented with some formal
constraints well beyond any residual notions that caveat emptor (Let
the buyer beware) might still rule the American marketplace.
14
An excellent set of short articles describing this period is available
in the Spring 1997 issue of the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing
(Andreasen 1997; Bloom 1997; Greyser 1997; Kinnear 1997; Mazis
1997; Wilkie 1997).
15
Unpublished data courtesy of the authors; see Gundlach and Wilkie
(1990, p. 335) for an earlier report of findings. The 550 figure reflects
only marketing and public policytopics, involving some mix of
consumerism, government, and self-regulatory issues. This study
represents a considerable sampling of the major research venues in
Marketing, including the 12 most prominent journals published during
all or part of this period (J. Marketing, J. Marketing Research, J.
Consumer Research, J. Advertising, J. Advertising Research, J.
Academy of Marketing Science, Business Horizons, J. Business
Research, California Management Review, J. Consumer Affairs,
Harvard Business Review, J. Retailing), plus the Proceedings of the
conferences of the American Marketing Association (Educators) and
the Association for Consumer Research, plus the publications of the
Marketing Science Institute.
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 61
era has brought the most significant decline in main-
stream interest in this topic during the entire history
nearly a centuryof marketing thought. It is fair to say
that most marketing thinkersattention has been directed
elsewhere, and that many have given virtually no
research thought to this question during the entire
fourth era.
16
The mainstream journals, which were publishing a
number of societal-oriented articles during the 1970s,
published many fewer such papers in the 1980s and
beyond. Whether this was because they were receiving
fewer papers due to the availability of the new specialized
publications, or whether their publishing priorities changed,
is unknown to us. For the purposes of the present article,
we have undertaken a rough analysis of the publications of
the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, and here
are some of the highlights:
&Since its inception in 1973, 121, or 9% of JAMS
roughly 1,400 articles fit into this category.
17
&We found only a slight decline in JAMSpublication
rates for this category between Era III (10% are societal
papers) and Era IV (8% are societal papers). This is due
to some areas which have received particular stress
across time in JAMS.
&However, we have observed an apparent decline in the
1990s and 2000s, from 12% of 1980s articles now
down to 67% more recently.
&During the 1970s and 1980s JAMS published articles
across a range of societal topics, with no topics
especially predominating.
&Since 1990, however, ethics articles and corporate social
responsibility articles have been particularly stressed in
JAMS. These topics were lightly covered until about
1990 (only 5 articles between 1973 and 1989), but have
accounted for 31 articles since that time (or 65% of the
48 total societal publications since 1990).
&The February 2011 special issue on Sustainability
accounts for 10 further articles or 21% of the 48
societal articles since 1990.
&Societal articles on other topics than these three have
been few and far between, accounting for only 7 papers
in the last 20 years.
&With respect to levels of analysis, we found relatively
few articles in JAMS that dealt with marketing systems
beyond a firm level, or their impacts on society (a topic
we take up later in this paper).
As journal editors will point out, they are able to publish
only articles that are submitted to them. If it is perceived
that general articles on societal issues are low in number,
this would suggest that researchers either are not undertak-
ing work on these issues or are directing such work
elsewhere. In addition we noted that JAMS editors have
been proactive in creating special issues to encourage work
on particular topics of importance, including the recent
successful sustainability effort.
Turning back to general coverage, our second
conclusion is that the area of marketing and society
has actually been flourishing, especially during the
second half of Era IV. This has been primarily due to
an active subset of marketing thinkers who have (1)
built a welcoming infrastructure to encourage thought
development and (2) continued to pursue research on
these issues with enthusiasm and energy. Overall, then,
this paradoxical state of affairs reflects the fragmenta-
tion that we have seen more generally in the
marketing field in Era IV. Thus there are a number
of other interest areas with similar research situations
as well.
It was right at the beginning of Era IV that the marketing
and society research area began to create a strong
infrastructure for itself. First came the journals. The Journal
of Macromarketing (JMM) began in 1981, to provide a
forum in which people can debate and clarify the role of
marketing and society we hope to identify social issues
in which improvements in knowledge can lead to improve-
ments in the way resources are managed in private and
public organizations to serve societys interest(Fisk 1981,
p. 3). Over time, JMM has published articles covering a
wide expanse of topics and perspectives, especially in these
areas: (1) marketing history, (2) quality-of-life studies, (3)
marketing and development, (4) competition and markets,
(5) global policy and environment, (6) marketing ethics,
and (7) reviews and communications. Meanwhile, in 1982
the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing (JPP&M) was
begun, according to its founding editor Thomas Kinnear
(1982, p. 2, see also Kinnear 2011)toprovide a forum for
dialogue on issues in marketing and public policy.
Empirical studies were particularly encouraged, and many
did appear in the ensuing years. An excellent overview of
the earlier history of JPP&M (Sprott and Miyazaki 2002)
reports that some 455 articles were published in the first
16
It may be that this is partially due to the level of analysis
appropriate to a given issue. To illustrate, for most marketing
strategists and many quantitative marketing scientists, adopting the
managerial perspective means focusing on the firm: analyses of the
societal issues may actually be dysfunctional for solving firm-level
problems. Meanwhile, for many consumer researchers, emphasis has
been on individual consumer or household decisions; again, a system-
wide look at either marketing or consumers would be a dysfunctional
choice given the research goals.
17
Close judgments sometimes had to be made here, and readers may
not concur with our treatments. Nonprofit marketing articles were
counted here, for example, as were ethics articles. Articles on the
definition of marketing were not counted, however, though in some
cases they might have qualified under closer inspection.
62 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
20 years of the journal, written by 602 authors from 272
different institutions.
Conferences were also crucial for the development of
marketing and society research early in Era IV. The
macromarketing group had been holding an annual
conference for several years preceding the advent of
JMM, while others were attending their own sessions at
the mainstream marketing and consumer research confer-
ences. In 1989, an invitation-only symposium was held on
the Notre Dame campus in recognition of the FTCs75th
anniversary (Murphy and Wilkie 1990). This provided an
impetus for regular meetings that grew into the annual
Marketing and Public Policy Conference, now run by the
American Marketing Association. Several years later, the
Marketing and Society Special Interest Groupwas
formed within the AMA, and it grew quickly. Thus a
strong infrastructure for knowledge development was
created, and continues to serve today. We will return to
Era IV developments in a later section on marketing in
society research today.
Two disturbing illustrations of to the sidelines
Illustration 1: the 2004 AMA definition
We have indicated that Era IV is characterized by a
fragmentation of the pursuit of marketing thought, and that
marketing in society has been moved from its former
position as a mainstream concern of the field to a new
position as one of many sideline pursuits. This can lead to
instability in shared views, and perhaps an evolution away
from some core concepts and issues. The 2004 issuance of
the American Marketing Associations new definition for
marketing is one case that substantiates our concerns.
In brief, the first AMA definition had been developed in
1935 and was essentially retained for 50 years until being
modified in 1985, and then modified again in 2004. The
three definitions are:
&1935: (Marketing is) the performance of business
activities that direct the flow of goods and services
from producers to consumers.
&1985: (Marketing is) the process of planning and
executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and
distribution of ideas, goods and services to create
exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational
objectives.
&2004: Marketing is an organizational function and a set
of processes for creating, communicating and delivering
value to customers and for managing customer relation-
ships in ways that benefit the organization and its
stakeholders.
Consistent with our 4 Eras history, examining the direction of
these definitions reveals a distinct narrowing of focus over
time. Notice that until 1985 the fields definition was
pluralistic, thereby easily translatable to more aggregated
issues such as competition, system performance, and contri-
butions to consumer welfare. The 1985 change then firmly
turned focus toward the managers tasks as embodied in the 4
Ps, and the 2004 definition extended this thrust to adopt a
singular focus on the individual organization alone: What we
(now) have is more strategic. Now it says marketing is really
something that makes the organization run(Head of AMAs
Academic Division, in Keefe 2004,p.17).
At this point a set of marketing academics, led by
Gregory Gundlach, held sessions at the AMA conferences
and contributed a special section in the Journal of Public
Policy & Marketing in order to raise questions about the
deficiencies of this definition for the field.
18
The authors of
this article participated in these sessions and argued for a
broadening of the official definition. We suggested that the
2004 definition be used for marketing management,and
that a more inclusive definition be developed for the field
itself. To be clear about our position, we quite agree that
conceiving of marketing as a strategic and tactical activity
undertaken within individual organizations is a most
reasonable view for marketing managers to take, and for
academics to use when appropriate. However, we also see
the sole focus on the firm to be incomplete, in that some
broader questions go unaddressed precisely because the
managerial perspective within a firm does not need to
consider these questions in order to act in that firms
interest. These issues include, for example (Wilkie and
Moore 2007):
1. Dangers in simply adopting goals of all organizations
engaged in marketing. In our view the greatest risk of
equating all of marketing solely with how to make
managerial decisions inside organizations is that these
organizationsgoals are being adopted by marketing
thinkers without any external appraisal whatsoever.
This leads to something akin to blanket approval of
the reality of all of the marketing worlds undertakings.
When identifying ourselves in this way, whose per-
ceived interests are being served, and does this matter?
Brief consideration of egregious examples found in
political campaigning, lobbying, fraud, bid rigging,
energy gouging, channel stuffing, etc. alerts us that
many organizations are highly imperfect entities with
mixed motivations. In most firms, moreover, persons
other than marketers are setting priorities. Organiza-
18
Interested readers may wish to consult the Fall 2007 issue of the
Journal of Public Policy & Marketing for articles calling for change in
the 2004 AMA definition.
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 63
tional marketing is very important, but does not
represent all of marketing thought.
2. Limitations in addressing the competitive nature of our
marketing system. A sole focus on the firm also does
not provide constructs with which to assess marketing
more broadly. For example, when 5 or 15 firms are
competing in a market, how do we assess the
marketingthat is occurring on all fronts? It would
appear that inefficiencies would be natural in such
settings, but are beyond the managerial purview itself.
Extended to public policy, moreover, what does this
conception of marketing have to offer to antitrust
theory and enforcement? Is this why our field hasnt
made more impact on the antitrust area?
3. Limitations in addressing the marketing systems inter-
actions with consumers. One major task confronting
every consumer is allocating his or her budget for
purchases. If we ask: How well do marketers help
consumers with their budget and effort allocation
decisions?the answer is: Very poorly.In the
aggregate, all marketers together simply propose too
much consumption for any individual to come close to
undertaking. The marketing system acts as if consumer
resources and wants are infinite and insatiable: every
product and service category is advocated as worthy of
consumption for virtually everyone. Further, within
each category marketers are offering consumers highly
conflicting advice as to which alternative to select. To
cope, consumers must ignore or resist most marketing
programs, responding positively to only a relative few
(Wilkie 1994). Further, as Redmond (2005) explores,
the marketing system sometimes decreases consumers
quality of life by intruding on their privacy with
unwanted promotional solicitations.
19
These character-
istics surely make it difficult to equate each marketers
best interest with each consumers best interest (we
stress that these are not criticisms, but characteristics of
our marketing system that are not enough evident from
the managerial perspective on marketing).
4. Limitations in addressing major societal and public
policy issues. The within-organization focus can also
clearly hinder the appreciation of larger issues and
problems. For example, childhood obesity is a growing
problem in our nation; would anyone seriously argue
that a single firm focus for marketing is best for
addressing this? As another example, direct-to-
consumer (DTC) advertising of prescription drugs is
actually a public policy experiment in the U.S.; New
Zealand is the only other nation allowing this practice
(Farris and Wilkie 2005). How helpful have marketing
academics been in devising or evaluating this policy?
Our point is simple: there are issues in our world that
are larger than the problems of a single organization.
5. Removing research opportunities from many marketing
academics who would like to pursue these broader
issues. If marketing is defined in a manner so as to
eliminate larger issues, this could increase risks that new
scholars may not be exposed to this area of research in
their PhD programs. This risk clearly emerges in our
second illustration here, to follow shortly.
The set of concerns raised in these protests was heard by
the then AMA Chairperson Debra Ringold, who named
several committees to examine the process of definition
promulgation, then to review the 2004 definition itself and
propose keeping or revising it. The senior author served on
both committees, and was pleased with their deliberations.
A report by Gundlach and Wilkie (2009) provides the
details of this process, which involved considerable
interactions with AMA members. A new AMA definition
of marketing was issued in 2007:
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and
processes for creating, communicating, delivering,
and exchanging offerings that have value for custom-
ers, clients, partners, and society at large.
We are pleased with this change, in that it provides a larger
view of our field. We would stress that one responsibility of
academia is to place a field of study into proper perspective.
The impacts that marketing has on the world are a
legitimate concern for scholarship in our field, and it is
important that the official definition for the field of
marketing explicitly include the societal domain. It wasnt
going to do so, but now it does again.
Illustration 2: the AMA consortium survey
We have for some time been concerned about the dangers of
fragmentations impacts on effort, attention, and transmis-
sion of marketing knowledge. Consider two brief quotes:
It is troubling to realize that knowledge does not
necessarily accumulate in a fieldthat knowledge
can disappear over time if it is not actually transmit-
ted. (Wilkie 1981)
As research specialization has increased, this risk has
increasedknowledge outside a persons specialty may
first be viewed as non-instrumental, then as non-
essential, then as non-important, and finally as non-
existent in terms of meriting attention.(Wilkie2002)
In our exploration of the 4 Eras, it became clear that many
research insights and findings, including those generated by
19
The increasing emphasis on customer co-creation, as contemplated
by service-dominant logic, should serve to reduce these problems
(Lusch and Vargo 2006).
64 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
marketing in society pioneers, did not get passed on but
instead were left behindas researchers turned attention to
new areas of interest. This prompted us to look more
closely at whence academic marketing thought leaders of
the future will come. How are scholarly training and
predispositions about the field of marketing being shaped?
Specifically, for us, are they being educated in the societal
domain of marketing issues?
To explore this, we undertook a brief survey of AMA-
Sheth Doctoral Consortium participants (Wilkie and Moore
1997). The results were most interesting. Somewhat
surprisingly to us, these people, who were near the end of
their doctoral training, reported a high level of personal
interest in marketing and society topics: two-thirds of these
doctoral candidates indicated that they were personally
interested in learning about this area, and also that they
believed it should be covered in PhD education. However,
fewer than one in ten had ever taken even one course in the
subject. They openly reported self-ratings of expertise as
low, and that regular readership of the marketing in society
journals was very low, as was participation in this areas
conferences. Finally, most of these respondents answered
that they do not see this area as professionally relevant for
them, at least at this stage of their careers.
This illustration substantiated our belief that marketing
in society has clearly been moved out of the mainstream of
doctoral education in marketing. However, it further
clarified that the root problem is not with the people who
are entering study for a career in marketing academia, but
instead lies with the curricula of PhD programs. Doctoral
programs sorely need to reconsider this issue, but this will
not happen unless the marketing scholars who control them
are willing to acknowledge that knowledge is being lost
from this field. Our true concern in this regard is not for the
aware scholar who opts to make an informed choice to
avoid societal issues, but instead is for later generations of
scholars (todays and the futures doctoral students) who
may not gain enough background to even realize that a
choice is available to them.
Our basic conceptualization: the aggregate marketing
system
Background
This concept emerged as the centerpiece of our investiga-
tion of Marketings Contributions to Society,which
appeared in the special Millennium Issue of the Journal
of Marketing in late 1999 (Wilkie and Moore 1999). As
readers can imagine, one significant conceptual hurdle we
faced involved how best to represent and think about
society.In the end, we resolved this by building on the
systems concepts in the writings of the earlier eras and
proposing a conception of an aggregate marketing sys-
tem.We see the aggregate marketing system (AGMS) as a
huge, powerful, yet intricate complex operating to serve the
needs of its host society. It differs for each society, in that it
is an adaptive human and technological institution reflect-
ing the idiosyncrasies of the people and their culture,
geography, sociopolitical decisions, and economic opportu-
nities and constraints. Three primary sets of actors within
the system are seen to be: (1) marketers, (2) consumers, and
(3) governments, whose public policy decisions are meant
to facilitate the maximal operations of the AGMS for the
benefit of the host society.
The Marketings Contributionsarticle then explored
the AGMS of the United States. Early in the process we
realized that much of the marketing system operates
behind the scenes,known only to those persons involved
in pieces of the operation itself. This makes it challenging
for outside observers to fully appreciate the scope and
nuances of marketing (a useful reminder to us academics as
well).
20
Three insights we also gained were that marketings
contributions (1) accumulate over time, (2) diffuse through
a society, and (3) occur within the context of everyday life,
which makes them difficult to distinguish at any given point
in time. We thus extended the time dimension and took a
roughly 100-year glimpse at what the U.S. AGMS is
delivering to daily life. Heres a little of what we found
(Wilkie and Moore 1999):
At the turn of the 20th century in 1900 (when the
academic field of marketing was beginning to form),
few homes had running water, so the average
housewife had to carry 9000 gal per year from the well
source outside. Only 3% of homes had electricity: this
meant reading with no electric lighting, and keeping
house with no labor-saving household appliances, and
of course no radio, television, internet, or mobile
devices. Food purchasing and preparation took 42 hours
per week, versus less than 10 hours today. Home heating
was often limited to only the kitchen, versus central
heating today, and of course there was no home air
conditioning. Virtually no one had a gas powered
vehicle: there are some 200,000,000 motor vehicles
registered in the U.S. today, all having been delivered
through the AGMS. Infant mortality was common at the
time, about one in every ten births, and life expectancy
in 1900 was only 47 years. Todays health and well-
being has improved dramatically, with infant mortality
20
Studies have shown that the less familiar a person is with the
marketing field, the more likely he or she is to equate marketing with
advertising or selling, the most visible portions of marketing to
laypersons. As a person learns more, the view deepens and he or she
begins to appreciate the richness of the field (Kasper 1993).
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 65
much less than 1% and life expectancy at almost
80 years. Similar findings exist on many other fronts
as well: it is clear that the U. S. Aggregate Marketing
System has delivered a substantially better standard of
living to its society across time.
But arent we giving marketing too much credit for
these advances? It isnt responsible for discoveries,
inventions, or production outputs. Our point is that
todays marketing academics are not conceiving of
marketing as a system in our world: if they were to do
so it would be easy to see that the AGMS is, in tandem
with other systems such as R&D, finance, and produc-
tion, clearly engaged in delivering a standard of living to
society while supporting innovations to raise these
standards in the future. As pointed out in the classic
volume by Vaile et al. (1952) many years ago, marketing
systems perform two distinct macro tasks for their
societies: (1) delivering the standard of living for the
citizenry and (2) creating a marketplace dynamism that
fosters and supports continual innovation and improvement
such that the standard of daily life is enhanced over time.
Viewing marketing as a system
To examine marketing as a system, we began by
learning directly in detail from marketing practitioners
and then illustrating this in a vignette we called
Breakfast at Tiffanys(for the full vignette, see Wilkie
and Moore 1999). Imagine Tiffany Jones sitting in her
New York City apartment, picking up her cup of coffee,
and blowing across the top of the cup. How did this cup of
coffee get here? We traced the process, discussing the
planting of coffee; where it is planted; why it is planted;
how it is sold by contract; how it is harvested; how it is
graded and processed and then bagged, warehoused, and
transported to the United States by sea; unloaded, taken to
the plant site where it is mixed, roasted, packaged, and
then shipped through the channels of distribution to retail,
where Tiffany has purchased it. We then shifted to her
breakfast pastry and repeated the system analysis, though
this was much more complex because there was new
product development involved, plus 15 ingredient-
sourcing systems similar to that for coffee. Each of the
foods that her four family members was consuming were
then recognized as having its own marketing system, as
was each component of the kitchen support system (e.g.,
appliances, cutlery, utilities), which also had been provid-
ed by the AGMS at prior points and which were still
delivering benefits through use across time.
As part of this illustration, we noted the set of well-
designed and practiced activities that were already devel-
oped in an infrastructure sense. This was a marketing
system at work, in the sense that buying and selling
occurred at all stages, with temporal dimensions, planning,
employment, capital investment, movement, production,
risk taking, financing, and so forth, each one taking place in
advance, with the expectation of transactional exchanges
that would occur to fuel the systems continuing operations.
We further pointed out that the AGMS routinely provides
these kinds of breakfasts for a hundred million American
households every day, and that this was just a miniscule
portion of its total activity.
It is clear just from this simple illustration that the
AGMS is huge, practiced, and powerful. In our discussion
of aggregating these separate systems into a whole, we
attempted statistical estimates of sizes and arrived at over
30 million workersapproximately one in five workers
directly employed in the marketing operations of the
AGMS. The AGMS also includes over 300 million
consumers, and a series of government involvements that
serve to mostly facilitate the smooth operations of the
AGMS. When viewed in this fashion it becomes clear that
the study of public policy is an intrinsic topic for marketing
scholarship.
Marketing in society research today
Eight active subgroups
It is interesting that, rather than a single unified presence,
there are at least eight organized subgroups at work on
research dealing with marketing in society issues, most with
their own journals and conferences.
21
Table 3provides a
brief synopsis of each group and their activities.
Why, however, are there eight separate groups? It is our
impression that the reason for the separate groupings can be
traced to significant differences in:
&Disciplinary underpinnings
&Preferred level of analysis
&Research methods
&Substantive focus and goals
For example, among the eight primary groups we today
find persons who wish to focus on social change and help
those managing these efforts (social marketing), persons
who strive to assist the poor to develop their own
sustainable markets (subsistence marketplace initiative),
and others who wish to focus on helping corporate
marketers make more ethical decisions (marketing ethics).
21
These are the larger groups of which the authors are aware. There
are, in addition, other efforts to be noted, including growing activities
of the Consumer Culture Theory group, which could extend to join the
Marketing in Society rubric.
66 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
Another set of researchers focuses on efforts to attain a fair
and efficient marketplace for consumers and competitors,
and in helping government decision makers and marketers
devise more efficient and effective legislation as well as
regulatory actions (public policy and marketing). Further,
some persons are approaching problems within different
cultural and political contexts (international consumer
policy), and some with different aims and methods
(consumer interest economists). Meanwhile, macromarket-
ing is focused on larger questions having to do with
marketing as a provisioning system for a society. The
newest of the groups, transformative consumer research
(TCR), as reflected in its name, stresses empirical research
undertakings with consumers, but here with the purpose of
promoting actions that will help to enhance quality of life.
During the 1990s efforts were undertaken to integrate
these persons into a larger area of focus, and over 200
marketing academics joined the Marketing and Society
Special Interest Group (SIG) of the AMA. However, true
integration did not really occur for at least half of the
groups listed, and each of the previously specialized
conferences and journals continues to operate today. While
not a cohesive entity, however, the fact that these various
vehicles exist does present a significant set of outlets for
scholars seeking to publish their societal domain research.
So the overall picture is vibrant and welcoming for
researchers wishing to work in this area. On the other hand,
the area remains oddly splinteredeven more so with the
entry of TCR, which holds considerable growth potential
given its alliance with the large Association for Consumer
Research academic community. Perhaps the most significant
drawback of this splintering is that others are not able to easily
appreciate the fact that a large number of marketing
academics are at work on societal issues for the field.
A plethora of research opportunities
Given the existence of the eight groups it is clear that
differing perspectives are extant within this area. Our
particular research interests have been primarily in the
public policy area, and we will focus on that here. Public
policy research in marketing actually contains a surprising-
ly large number of research topics, and fits well with the
concept of the aggregate marketing system discussed
earlier. If someone were to consider entering this area to
undertake research, what options might they find? A useful
place to start would be with the Bloom and Gundlach
framework developed for the Handbook of Marketing and
Society (2001). A brief analysis of the framework helps us
to recognize the means-end nature of much activity in this
Table 3 Eight sub-groups in marketing in society research
Public Policy and Marketing. This informal group has its own annual conference (now in its 23rd year), and the specialized Journal of Public
Policy & Marketing, published by the American Marketing Association. Its focus has been largely on the legal system and governments policies
with regard to marketing and consumer protection, and it enjoys strong ties to professionals at the FTC and FDA. It welcomes government,
industry, and legal practitioners as well as academics from any discipline.
Macromarketing. This Society has an annual conference and is associated with several other specialized conferences in alliance with smaller
groups focused on international economic development, quality of life studies, and marketing history. It also produces the Journal of
Macromarketing, published by Sage, which celebrated its Silver Anniversary Issue several years ago. Macromarketings orientation represents
the closest tie to an overall marketing system view as represented in Eras I and II.
Consumer Economics. The American Council on Consumer Interests (ACCI) is an organization consisting primarily of consumer economists
who study marketing issues from the perspective of advancing the consumer interest. This group also holds its own annual conference and
publishes the Journal of Consumer Affairs. A number of marketing academics have published in this journal.
Social Marketing. This has been a loosely affiliated group of researchers who are interested in assisting not-for-profits and government agencies
in designing effective interventions. It does not publish a journal, but it does have ties to the more practice-oriented Social Marketing Quarterly
and annual conference.
Marketing Ethics.The memberships of Society for Business Ethics and the International Society of Business, Economics and Ethics (ISBEE)
come from various business disciplines, but they do not publish their own journal. Business Ethics Quarterly and Journal of Business Ethics are
the major outlets, and they do have special editors for marketing. The group is active in special sessions at major marketing conferences.
International Consumer Policy.Distance and cultures still do present barriers. These persons are at work in other nations, with only sporadic
interactions with the U.S. groups. They publish two journals on different aspects of this topic: the Journal of Consumer Policy and the Journal
of Economic Psychology.
Transformative Consumer Research. This new entry is an outgrowth of ACR, comprised of consumer researchers interested in advancing well-
being: A primary goal of TCR is the timely and effective dissemination of research outputs to enhance consumer, societal, and earthly welfare.
It does not have a journal (but has had a special issue of the Journal of Consumer Research devoted to its work), and now holds its conference
every other year. A recent book provides much insight into this area (Mick et al. 2012a,b).
The Subsistence Marketplace Initiative. This new entry focuses on bottom-upresearch designed to understand and enable the progress from
subsistence marketplaces to sustainable marketplaces, i.e., marketplaces characterized by sustainable production and consumption that enhance
individual and community welfare and conserve natural resources. It holds its conferences every other year, and can be found at: http://www.
business.illinois.edu/subsistence/
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 67
research field, as seen in its primary organizing sectors and
their chapter contents:
&How knowledge about marketing improves public
policy decisions. This area of research assesses how
marketing knowledge can, and has, improved public
policy regulatory decisions on consumer protection
(especially at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)), on
antitrust policies (at FTC and U.S. Justice Department),
and with regard to deceptive advertising and selling
techniques (FTC and the court system).
&Impacts of corporate marketing decisions on competi-
tion. This area focuses on mainstream marketing man-
agement research topics, but here exploring their
implications for potential legality and effects on compe-
tition as well as consumer decisions. Examples of topics
include advertisings effects on price and competition,
socioeconomic consequences of franchising distribution,
and positive and negative aspects of pricing strategies.
&Impacts of public policy decisions. These topics focus
on the impacts of public policy decisions on both
competition and consumers. Some topics here reflect
attention to technical aspects of product and service
offerings, such as how public policymakers and market-
ers can best regulate product safety as well as issues
and challenges in the arena of consumer privacy. Other
topics rely heavily on consumer research expertise, such
as consumer response to warnings, the effectiveness of
nutritional labels on foods, the effectiveness of environ-
mental product claims, and the effects of deceptive
advertising regulation.
&Social marketing initiatives. The fourth major area of
this framework reflects marketing tools increasingly
being adopted by not-for-profitwhether governmental
or privateagencies involved with education, health,
poverty, religion, crime prevention, and myriad other
social programs. Formally, social marketing differs from
traditional marketing in aiming to directly benefit the
target audience (e.g., AIDS awareness or childhood
immunization) or society as a whole (e.g., recycling
programs, blood donations) rather than the firm spon-
soring the program (Andreasen 1994).
&Under-studied topics. Though not designated by this
term in the Handbook, the remaining links in the Bloom
and Gundlach framework have actually seen little
research undertaken within the marketing academic
community, though interesting issues are present.
Examples here include issues of corporate response to
alterations in the legal environment (e.g., how grocery
manufacturers changed their marketing mixes in re-
sponse to the nutritional labeling law, and how
companies react to antitrust enforcement) and to issues
with public relations or reputational overtones (e.g.,
corporate responses to boycotts). Chapters are also
devoted to intellectual property laws (trademarks,
patents), economic development, and marketings long-
term impacts on consumer welfare.
Given this background, we can now turn to research
topics themselves. Table 4depicts an adapted version of a
public policy research topic framework originally devel-
oped by Wilkie and Gundlach (in Gundlach and Wilkie
1990) and updated for this article to also reflect additional
topics that have recently emerged in the field. Through an
iterative process, research articles were examined, then
assigned to primary, secondary, and tertiary framework
categories, with the creation of new categories and
reassignments when necessary. Note that Table 4contains
over 100 categories, with every category having been
studied by marketing academics. Further, the number of
gradations within headings is a reasonable reflection of
areas of greater or lesser stress.
Notice that the literature reflects a strong emphasis on
marketing mix issues in general. Promotion issues receive the
most attention, but marketing authors have actually pursued
each of the 4 Ps to a considerable extent. It is also apparent
that consumer protection has been heavily stressed, reflecting
both the prominence of consumer research among many
marketing academics, and the fact that the FTC, FDA, and the
courts have called upon marketing academics to provide
expertise in operating some programs in this area. In contrast,
antitrust attorneys and economists have only very recently
begun to discern that marketing academiamight be a source of
useful expertise. Here, however, our primary concern is to
communicate the wide array of research issues that have been
studied. Reading through Table 4, we can easily notice how
distinct and advanced are its many topics, and why they
would be of significance to marketers and to society in
general. Thus, while a person who has been trained
elsewhere in the fragmented marketing world of today might
perceive this area to be underpopulated and under-developed,
the facts is that it is not small, and has been heavily studied
for quite some time. It is also important and interesting, and
well worth our considered attention.
Into the future
The coverage to this point will hopefully have stimulated
readers to consider undertaking societal research in the
future. If so, there are three further issues that merit
consideration: (1) intrinsic research characteristics and
constraints, (2) research receptivity by the journal reviewers
today, and (3) personal motivation and purpose. We briefly
raise each of these here.
68 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
Intrinsic research characteristics: insights
from the Brinberg/McGrath framework
One important element of the takeover of marketing
thought by the sciences is that the nature of research is
governed by requirements of the approved approaches
to scientific undertakings. This means that empirical
societal research must consider its performance along
scientific dimensions (as is true of all other areas within
marketing). The nature of this question has been nicely
captured in the research validity framework proposed by
Brinberg and McGrath (1985; see also Brinberg and
Hirschman 1986). In brief, this framework proposes that
there are three domains inherent in any research study: the
theoretical domain of conceptual causes and relationships;
the methodological domain of rigorous approaches to
empirical investigation, including research design, data
generation, and analysis and inference; and the substantive
domain of real world phenomena and problems. The
essence of the framework lies in its characterization of
Table 4 Wilkie and Gundlachs adapted framework for marketing and public policy research
General topics Marketing management topics Consumer protection topics
International Issues Product Issues Pricing Issues Consumer Protection Issues
-Economic Development -Protection of Trade Secrets -Price Fixing -Consumerism
-Subsistence Marketplace -Patents -Exchange Price Information -Socially Conscious Consumers
-Protectionism -Copyright -Parallel Pricing -Quality of Life
-Corrupt Practices -Trademarks -Predatory Pricing -Legal Aspects
-General International -Certification marks -Discriminatory Pricing -Comparative Marketing
-Warranty -Credit and Loan Practices -Marketing of Governmental Programs
Public Policy Participants -Product Liability -Robinson-Patman Act -Competition
-U.S. Supreme Court -Food Safety/Product Safety -Unit Pricing -General Macro Issues
-Administrative Agencies -Package and labeling -Reference Price -Marketer Behavior
-State and Local Government -Nutrition Information -Item Price Removal -Management of Consumer Protection
-Lobbying -Services -General Price -Consumer Information
-Product Standards -Consumer Education
General Antitrust -Sustainable Products Promotion Issues -Consumer Complaining
-Antitrust Regulation -Hazardous Products -Deceptive Advertising -Vulnerable Groups
-Financial Products/Services -Unfairness in Advertising -Ethnic Targeting
Other Governmental Regulation -General Product -Marketing to Children -Consumer Practices
-Commercial Speech -Advertising Substantiation -Environmental Issues
-Licensing Place Issues -Affirmative Disclosure -Energy Conservation
-Health Policy -Exclusive Dealing -Corrective Advertising -Minority Owned Businesses
-General Government Regulation -Tying Contracts -Health Claims -Consumer Affairs
-Territorial and Customer -Comparative Advertising -Ethics
Self-Regulation Restrictions -Endorsements -Consumer Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction
-Advertising Self-Regulation -Resale Price Maintenance -Price Promotions -Consumer Information Search
-Stakeholder Marketing -Reciprocity -Warranty Promotions -Health Literacy
-Local Business Bureaus -Refusals to Deal -Credit Promotions -Medical Problems
-Functional Discounts -Sweepstakes and Contests -Objective Price/Quality
Information Technology Issues -Vertical Integration -Personal Selling Practices -Social Marketing
-Internet Marketing -Gray Markets -Mail Order/Internet Selling -Consumer Financial Problems
-Global Digital Divide -Mergers -Referral Selling -Addictive Consumption
-Identity Theft -Franchising -Covert Marketing -Marketplace Discrimination
-Impacts on marketing Productivity -Slotting Allowances -Promotional Allowances -Impoverished Consumers
-Consumer Privacy/Data Security -General Place -Promotion of Prof. Services -General Consumer Protection
-Cigarette Advertising
Market Research Issues -Political Advertising
-Using Marketing Research -Counter/Demarketing
-Market Research Problems -General Promotion
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 69
how the research process is governed by the priorities of
the researcher. If we picture a triangle with each domain
located at one of the three intersections, the framework
asserts that a researcher must begin any particular study at
only one of these pointsand that this point will reflect
that domain of his or her top priority for the study (i.e.,
that it be highly realistic with respect to the real world, or
that it be add to or cleanly test theory, or that it correctly
and rigorously employ and/or advance a research method).
To further develop the research plan, the researcher then
moves along one of the legs toward the domain of next
highest priority concern for the research effort. Then, only
after reaching many decisions and reconciliations on these
two domains, can the researcher begin to consider issues
of the third domain (by moving from the midpoint of the
leg across the triangle to the third domain). By this point,
prospects for a strong representation from the third
domain in the study are bleak, as its essential demands
will have been sacrificed in order to achieve the demands
of the first and second domains.
Having experienced this very problem in some of our
own work and observed it in reading and reviewing
many other marketing studies, by now we are convinced
that this is an excellent representation of the nature of
the empirical research process and the associated
difficulties that can expect to be encountered with that
third domain. The dominance of the quantitative and
behavioral sciences that began in Era III and which
have strengthened in Era IV has led to an academic
research world in which the theoretical and methodo-
logical domains are given absolute priority. Consider, for
example, the positive research article requirements for
the fields presumably leading journals (the Journal of
Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research,and
Marketing Science)in each, the substantive domain is
clearly relegated to the third position of priority, not to be
well studied or represented.
22
It appears to us that it is important to recognize that
singular theories seem to be inherently confounded in
the complex real world. Thus if we start our research
process with the substantive domain, we will likely not
find a clean mapping onto a single theory (we can of
course use advanced methodology, but this will be seen
as descriptive researchof the sort done by business
operations). Conversely, if we start with a single theory,
wearelikelytooversimplifythe realities of the societal
domain. Two lessons emerge from this analysis. First, it
seems to us that much of the work in marketing and
society must examine and reflect the substantive domain
strongly. However, this virtually guarantees that either
theory or methodology, whichever comes third in domain
priority, will be weaker in these studies. Thus it is a fair
speculation that much research in marketing and society,
whilelikelystrongonsubstance,islikelyeitherweakin
theory or weak in method. As just pointed out, this state of
affairs is not looked on with favor by the marketing
academic community running the premier journals, which
is likely to label such undertakings as not rigorous.
23
Given the fundamental (and largely unrecognized) nature
of this reaction, weve thus come to believe that part of the
isolation of much societal research actually springs from a
learned antipathy toward less strong representations of
either theory or method (in the Brinberg/McGrath frame-
work sense).
What can be done about this real difficulty? Ideally, all
three domains should be strongly represented in a single
empirical undertaking, but this is not possible according to
Brinberg and McGrath. Thus it seems that the best alternative
is for programmatic research that, over time, ensures that
different domains receive priority, thus repairing weaknesses
from earlier efforts while adding to the accumulation of
knowledge on the topic. The downside, of course, is that this
approach requires more time (and research support) than
many marketing academics may wish to invest. In that case it
maybepossibletoplananexperimentalresearchundertaking
in which theory and method are stressed, but that employs a
societal contextthat is under study.
24
Pressures of publish or perishand status
These issues are quite apparent to all of us, so well simply
raise some points for further consideration here. First,
continuing with attention to journal reviewersdemands, it
appears to us that the field has in some respects been
becoming more instrumentally demandingas Era IV has
moved along. More and more universities stress publish or
perishto their junior faculty members, and many of these
have adopted implicitand sometimes explicitrankings
of journals to employ in evaluations of quality in
scholarship. This has led to two particular conditions that
we have observed: (1) very high pressures to produce articles
as quickly as possible, including within a short time after entry
into PhD programs and (2) intense competition to get into
the Ajournals in order to secure tenure and reputation. It is
our impression, though we admittedly dont have data to
22
Many researchers likely appreciate that the Journal of the Academy
of Marketing Science, the Journal of Marketing, and other journals are
more open to alternative priority configurations.
23
Alternatively, those whose priorities are strong for the substantive
domain of marketing are quite familiar with the reaction that much
research appearing in the top journals is irrelevant,”“unrealistic,or
overly simplistic.
24
Interesting discussions of this issue have recently been provided in the
new transformative consumer research book (Mick et al. 2012a,b,see
pp. 1114 and commentary by Lehmann and Hill 2012,pp.684686).
70 J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373
support this, that a higher proportion of junior faculty
members are in turn falling short of publication requirements,
and are having to move elsewhere to continue their profes-
sional quests. It is also our impression that this movement is
gaining momentum, and that statusis establishing itself as a
foundation of our scholarly environment.
Given these impressions, we have two major reactions:
(1) It is somewhat unsettling to realize that there doesnt
seem to be an overall font of wisdom attending to and
guiding our field in its scholarly pursuits.(2) The field of
marketing academia is in danger of becoming less, not
more, scholarly as Era IV progresses. With respect to the
first point, we would relate an interesting vignette that
followed the publication of our Four Eras article in 2003. In
the articles discussion of the impacts of globalization
within Era IV, we reported the following:
The picture with respect to authorship opportunities is
quite different but interesting nonetheless, the publi-
cation opportunities in the four most prestigious U.S.
marketing journals have basically not changed The
number of contributions per year is about the same
today (2002) as it was in 1986 and 1987. (Wilkie and
Moore 2003)
Although we did not further highlight this point, Leigh
McAlister certainly took note about what this represented
in terms of the reality of publication in leading journals
for the rapidly increasing body of marketing academics.
She wrote an essay that discussed this finding briefly and
recommended that the number of pages in the leading
journals be expanded to reflect the increased supply of
research being done (McAlister 2005).
25
Behind the
scenes, moreover, Leigh used her influence as Executive
Director of the Marketing Science Institute to push for
such changes at JM and JMR, and was successful in
convincing the AMA to move their publication to six
issues per year. This, together with the initiatives of Dawn
Iacobucci at JCR to increase the number of articles in that
journal, and the recent decision by JAMS to move to six
issues as well, has helped considerably the plight of
academics attempting to pursue tenure and promotion.
Overall, though, it is clearly a need for an empathetic
institutional entity to monitor and push on behalf of the
marketing academic community.
With regard to the second point, clearly some elements
of research are advancing impressively. However, the
increasing stress on status and success also brings risks,
and it may be instructive for all of us to consider the
insights offered in this regard by the distinguished
management educator James March (1996) on the occasion
of his retirement from the Stanford Business School. March
began his talk by characterizing the guiding rationale for
modern business schools (as with the social sciences
generally) as in the consequentionalisttradition. Here,
action is seen as choice, and choice is seen as driven by
anticipations, incentives, and desires.While recognizing
that this is a powerful and useful perspective, March also
pointedly observed that John Stuart Mill once described
Jeremy Bentham, the father of modern consequentionalism,
as having all the completeness of a limited man.
Similarly, March pointed out that extending a marketplace
metaphor to business schools leads to a situation in which:
The problems of business schools are pictured as
problems of creating educational programs (or public
relations activities) that satisfy the wishes of custom-
ers and patrons rich enough to sustain them.... But
[this] fails to capture the fundamental nature of the
educational soul.... A university is only incidentally a
market. It is more essentially a templea temple
dedicated to knowledge and a human spirit of inquiry.
It is a place where learning and scholarship are
revered, not primarily for what they contribute to
personal or social well-being but for the vision of
humanity that they symbolize, sustain, and pass on....
In order to sustain the temple of education, we
probably need to rescue it from those deans, donors,
faculty, and students who respond to incentives and
calculate consequences and restore it to those who
respond to senses of themselves and their callings.
(March 1996, p. 13)
Societal issues and a personal life of scholarship
In closing, we would note that virtually everything in our
journals is about facts, theories, methods, and applications.
Behind this, however, is the living reality of our academic
lives and pursuits. Collectively, we are the College of
Marketing. Individually, we are talented people who have
invested heavily to be in a position to contribute to
knowledge.
An instructive treatise on pursuit of a scholarly life is
available in the book, The Cultivated Mind by Edward
Hodnet (1963), who proposes three distinguishing properties:
&The cultivated mind is conceptual. It seeks understand-
ing, desires to know, and is willing to speculate.
25
In his essay in The Sages Speakspecial section of the Journal of
Public Policy & Marketing, in which authors were reacting to points
raised in the 4 Eras article, former JAMS Editor Robert Peterson
(2005) reported an additional finding using a longer time frame in his
analysis of the structure of marketing scholarship: a comparison of
the contents of the three journals (JM, JMR, JCR) in 1978 and 2003
reveals that the total number of reviewed articles and notes
decreased 27%.
J. of the Acad. Mark. Sci. (2012) 40:5373 71
&The cultivated mind is discriminating. It is sensitive to
value and is willing to distinguish and differentiate.
&The cultivated mind is humane. It regularly moves
beyond an obsession with self and the press of daily
affairs. It is thus capable of a serious concern with the
nature of human existence.
If one were to assess the formal field of marketing
academia today, he or she might agree that it fares well on
the first property, and perhaps well on the second also. With
respect to the third, though, this doesnt seem to fit well
with either scientific method or managerial mandate. For
those of us wishing to incorporate this dimension into our
professional lives, however, the study of marketing in
society offers this opportunity. We are most pleased to have
been able to pursue this field in our own careers, and invite
readers to join us in this pursuit in the future.
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