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Bridging Marketing Scholarship And Practice

Abstract

Scholarship, its scope and its importance to the society have been subject to many studies in the literature. Academicians in some disciplines gave too much importance on ‘scholarship’ subject, so studied its dimensions and its role to the society. As Mentzer and Schumann (2006) asserted in their study, compared to other disciplines; relatively little attention has been given to scholarship topic in marketing. Purpose of this study is analyzing the marketing scholarship, its dimensions and its relation with marketing practice. A conceptual model that incorporates Boyer’s (1990) dimensions of scholarship and Hunt’s (2002) knowledge diffusion concept is presented in order to bridge marketing scholarship and marketing practice. It is believed that bridging marketing scholarship and marketing practice will contribute to the evolution of marketing scholarship. Since ultimate client of marketing should be the society, evolution of marketing scholarship will likely increase welfare of the society. Paper is organized as follow; firstly literature regarding scholarship and its scope will be analyzed, then theoretical foundations regarding marketing scholarship will be examined. In the last part of the study, literature on the relationship between marketing scholarship and practice will be reviewed and a conceptual framework about bridging the marketing scholarship and practice will be presented.

 

  • SCHOLARSHIP AND ITS SCOPE

 

What’s Scholarship

There are various definitions regarding scholarship in the literature. For instance, Shulman (1998, p.5) defined scholarship as;

. . . [t]hey are acts of the mind or spirit that have been made public in some manner, have been subjected to peer review by members of one’s intellectual or professional community, and can be cited, refuted, built upon, and shared among members of that community. Scholarship properly communicated and critiqued serves as the building blocks for knowledge growth in a field.

Moreover, Mentzer and Schumann (2006) defined scholarship as looking for universal truths which may have practical applications and Oliver (2009) evaluated scholarship as pursuit of transformational truth in order to improve the human condition through understanding ourselves and the physical world. He also believed that; without scholarship, data are just numbers, stories are just rumors and knowledge is just information.

If all of these definitions are evaluated together, it can be told that; scholarship seeks for knowledge and truth, it is shared within society and it is for improving societal conditions. Shortly, scholarship serves to society and it has practical applications in its service

The Scope of Scholarship

In the literature, there are also studies regarding the dimensions and scope of scholarship. Most popular study was presented by Boyer (1990) in which four different dimensions of scholarship were put forward:

  • The scholarship of discovery: according to Boyer (1990), discovery located at the heart of the scholarly research process which includes both applicable results to practitioners and universal truths which may not have direct applicability.
  • The scholarship of integration: Boyer (1990) defined integration dimension as a process in which various researches got together in order to constitute larger patterns.
  • The scholarship of application: It represents the dimension which discovered knowledge is applied (Boyer, 1990)
  • The scholarship of teaching: it is a process where knowledge is transformed and extended by teachers (Boyer, 1990)

In another valuable study regarding dimensions of scholarship, Rice (1991) commented upon Boyer’s (1990) paper and combined his study with Boyer’s (1990) work by adding intersections to Boyer’s (1990) dimensions as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Boyer-Rice Scholarship Conception

marketing scholarship and practice

Source: Rice (1991)

As can be seen from the figure; Rice (1991) concluded that;

  • the intersection of discovery and integration is reflective-observation knowing,
  • the intersection of discovery and practice is abstract-analytic knowing,
  • the intersection of practice and teaching is active-practice knowing,
  • the intersection of teaching and integration is concrete-connected knowing.

Moreover, while Rice (1991) and Boyer (1990) examined scholarship in different dimensions some of the studies in the literature concentrated on specific dimensions of the scholarship.

For instance, Pearce (2007) claimed that although scholars should be evaluated regarding their teaching, teaching has been ignored in discussions of scholarship. Lewis and Doyno (1983) supported Pearce (2007) ideas and believed that teaching is evaluated as a less demanding task. Similarly, Park (1996) believed that teaching is evaluated less important than scholarly publications. Although several authors asserted that teaching is underrated in the literature, in his empirical study, Stack (2003), found a significant positive relationship between student evaluations of teaching performance and instructors’ research productivity. This finding also supported by Pearce’s (2007) study where he claimed that teaching and research should be taken into account together instead of evaluating them as separate intellectual domains.

Moreover, Mentzer and Schumann (2006) claimed that; within the scholarship dimensions of Boyer (1990), ‘application’ is considered by many scholars as a domain where ‘true scholarship’ does not lie. They believed that; discovery and application should be considered together within scholarship because knowledge seeking is a dynamic process and by applying the knowledge discovered, observing the results, and bringing it back to the phenomenon of interest, body of knowledge can be enhanced. Schon (1983) also put forward a similar idea regarding application of knowledge and asserted that practice is not just for the application of knowledge but for its generation

To sum up, if the studies regarding the dimensions of scholarship are analyzed, it can be told that; seeking knowledge which is the major role of scholarship is a dynamic process and in this process each of the dimensions (discovery, integration, application, teaching as asserted by Boyer (1990)) has its unique contribution to enhance the body of knowledge, share it with society and improve societal conditions. Also, in this dynamic process, importance of the interconnectedness of all these dimensions should not be forgotten. Within all these dimensions and their relations, this study is aiming to analyze the relationship between scholarship and one of its dimensions which is application (i.e. practice). While examining this topic, marketing discipline is chosen as the unit of study since marketing discipline hosts a lot of debates in the literature regarding the relationship of scholarship and practice.

  • THE THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS OF MARKETING SCHOLARSHIP

Hunt (2002), suggested that marketing should be viewed as a professional discipline which has responsibilities to; society, students, marketing practice, and the academy. He defined these parties as marketing stakeholders. Within these stakeholders, this study will focus on the relationship between marketing practice and scholarship. In this part of the study, history of marketing scholarship will be analyzed.

According to Wilkie and Moore (2003) the academic field of marketing formally began 100 years ago and has been changing during this time. Within these 100 years a rich body of marketing literature has been developed. Wilkie and Moore (2003) analyzed the history of marketing thought in ‘4 eras’:

  • Era 1 – “Founding the Field” (1900–1920) – marketing activities were seen as economic activities and marketing was seen as distribution.
  • Era 2 – “Formalizing the Field” (1920–1950) – principles of marketing were developed; AMA, Journal of Retailing and Journal of Marketing were established.
  • Era 3 – “A Paradigm Shift—Marketing, Management, and the Sciences” (1950–1980) –   Two perspectives dominated the marketing; the managerial viewpoint and the behavioral and quantitative sciences.
  • Era 4 – “The Shift Intensifies—A Fragmentation of the Mainstream” (1980–present) – New challenges arouse in business world, philosophy of science debates started to question dominant perspectives and knowledge started to diversify into specialized interest areas.

Peterson (2005) believed that Wilkie and Moore’s (2003) “4 Eras” article provides a thoughtful investigation into the structure of scholarship in marketing. He suggested that, regardless of whether marketing is a science, art, discipline or activity, processes that generate marketing knowledge and the role of marketing theory in knowledge generation should not be forgotten.

In their study; Mentzer and Schumann (2006) also reviewed the literature regarding scholarship in marketing and presented the evolution of marketing thought. After analyzing the dominant perspectives and different school of thoughts, they concluded that although the pursuit of marketing scholarship has led to significant activity within several schools of thought, the question of what is included in marketing scholarship, and the usefulness of the knowledge generated, is still debated. Mentzer and Schumann (2006) also suggested that; following observations should be considered regarding marketing scholarship;

  • Professional business schools evaluate marketing as a discipline-distinct area
  • The term scholar is largely viewed as synonymous with academic.
  • Marketing scholars have heavily borrowed theories and methods from the other sciences (such as anthropology, economics, psychology, and sociology).
  • Marketing research’s contribution to the body of knowledge is evaluated more important than marketing teaching.

If all of these studies regarding marketing scholarship are analyzed, it can be told that; marketing scholarship has been a borrowing discipline from other disciplines and it has been evolving until present. In its evolution, different perspectives and schools of thoughts dominated different eras and debates regarding the nature, domain of marketing and the value of the knowledge generated by marketing scholars appeared in the literature. These debates contributed to the marketing scholarship and body of knowledge. Most of the studies regarding marketing scholarship, dealt with its relation with marketing practice and this topic will be handled in the following section.

  • BRIDGING SCHOLARSHIP AND PRACTICE

 Literature on the Relationship between Marketing Scholarship and Practice

Hunt (2002) asserted that; throughout 100-plus year history ‘gap’ between marketing academe and practice has been subject to many studies. In most of these studies, this ‘gap’ criticized and the importance of closing the gap by bridging marketing scholarship and practice put forward. Myers (1979) suggested that; marketing academicians should recognize the importance of research to improve marketing practice and to advance the knowledge. Different scholars from different countries reached the same conclusion. Baker and Holt (2004) from UK and Bolton (2005) from US asserted that there is a need for better integration of theory and practice. In response to this need, most of the scholars concerned that; marketing scholarship is not meeting the needs of major practitioners (Piercy 2002).

Brown (2005) also mentioned about the weak linkage between marketing scholarship and marketing practice. He believed that, since many executives outside marketing are also interested in what marketing academics study, marketing academicians must broaden their perspective. In other words, marketing scholars should position their contributions more to business in general rather than limit them to marketing practice. If target markets of marketing scholars broaden through many parts of the firms (instead of just marketing department), bridges between marketing scholarship and practice can be built better.

In their book, ‘Does Marketing Need Reform’ (Sheth and Sisodia, 2006), many scholars put forward their ideas regarding the relationship between marketing scholarship and practice. Gary Lilien mentioned about marketing as a schizophrenic business activity, and criticized both marketing practitioners and academicians because he believed that both of these groups evaluated marketing operation in a narrow perspective with a predominantly quantitative (data mining) or predominantly conceptual (agency creativity) manner. He claimed that success in achieving ‘good marketing’ lies behind the integration of science and creativity because good marketing need to embrace both of them. Moreover, Rajiv Grover believed that; marketers are the ones who need reform instead of marketing and he criticized that; academicians teach too much strategy and not enough operations. In another chapter, Jagmohan Raju asserted that; marketing’s influence, importance, and value is decreasing in the practitioners’ side where it is increasing within the academia. For instance, he claimed that; at the practitioners’ side, CMOs tenure started to decline but in the academic side number of manuscripts submitted to major marketing journals started to increase. At this point, he suggested that; with following actions, marketing academia can enhance the prestige of marketing practitioners;

  • D. students should be encouraged to go for industry careers.
  • Importance and value of consulting activity in annual performance evaluations should be increased, and
  • Academicians should be teaching and consulting the practitioners about the findings of academic research.

Staelin (2005) believed that; all scholars enter the academy in order to make an impact. Some of them concentrate on teaching, aiming to diffuse knowledge to students, some others deal with creation of new ideas in order to modify the practice; and some of them try to influence the practice through consulting. He believed that; impact of marketing scholarship is not always clear and in order to make a clear impact marketing academics are needed to understand how their field is integrated into the broader discipline of business.

Possible reasons about weak relation, in other words, gap between marketing scholarship and practice were also being subject to some studies. For instance, according to Ankers and Brennan (2002), contemporary marketing managers have little awareness of current research because idealism of academic research and the need of managers have been conflicted with each other. Ottesen and Gronhaug (2004) asserted that; theory constructed by scholars can be highly complex and practitioners are may not have time because of focusing on more immediate business priorities.

To sum up, it can be told that there is clearly a ‘gap’ between marketing scholarship and practice. This topic has been subject to many studies and it will be a hot topic in the future. In the next part of the study, a conceptual framework about bridging the marketing scholarship and practice will be presented.

A Conceptual Framework about Bridging the Marketing Scholarship and Practice

In this section Boyer’s (1990) model and Hunt’s (2002) knowledge diffusion concept are combined in order to present a conceptual model regarding bridging the marketing scholarship and practice.

Dimensions of Marketing Scholarship

In the conceptual model of this study, scholarship of marketing discipline is defined as a dynamic process that consists of Boyer’s (1990) four interconnected dimensions which are discovery, integration, teaching, application (see Figure 2). Each of these dimensions has its unique contribution to enhance the body of knowledge, share it with society and improve societal conditions.

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Figure 2: Dimensions of Marketing Scholarship

Source: Boyer (1990)

Interconnected dimensions of marketing scholarship that are shown in figure 2 have following responsibilities;

  • Discovery: as Boyer (1990) told, discovery includes both applicable results to practitioners and universal truths which may not have direct applicability. Mentzer and Schumann (2006) evaluated this dimension as discovery of new pieces of the body of marketing knowledge. It can be told that; discovery is the dimension where new findings are discovered that can contribute the evolution of the marketing profession.
  • Integration: as Boyer (1990) defined integration is a dimension where various researches got together in order to constitute larger patterns. Mentzer and Schumann (2006) defined this dimension as the place where new discovered facts are integrated with other discovered marketing and related facts. It can be told that; integration is the dimension where discovered new findings can be integrated with other discovered findings in order to contribute the evolution of marketing scholarship.
  • Practice (Application): as Boyer (1990) told, discovered knowledge is applied in this dimension. It can be told that; application is the dimension where discovered and integrated (or maybe non-integrated) findings are applied to the field by marketing practice.
  • Teaching: as Boyer (1990) told, it is a process where knowledge is transformed and extended by teachers (Boyer, 1990). It can be told that; teaching is the dimension where discovered, integrated (or maybe non-integrated), applied (or maybe not-applied) findings are transformed to the society.

Within all these dimensions and their relations, this study is aiming to analyze the relationship between marketing scholarship and one of its dimensions which is application (i.e. practice). While analyzing the relationship between marketing scholarship and practice, relationship between marketing practice and other three dimensions of marketing scholarship (discovery, integration, and teaching) will be examined under Hunt’s (2003) diffusion of knowledge concept.

Bridging the Marketing Scholarship and Practice: A Conceptual Model 

In his study, Hunt (2002) claims that; in marketing profession there are three gaps (practitioner, student and policy-maker). Among these gaps, practitioner gap might be closed when academic research is diffused through such vehicles as textbooks, practitioner periodicals, consultations, presentations and executive programs. This study tries to broaden this ‘knowledge diffusion’ concept and adapt it on Boyer’s (1990) study.

In the previous part, dimensions of the marketing scholarship were identified in accordance with Boyer’s (1990) study. In this part of the study, a conceptual model will be presented in order to show how marketing scholarship and practice can be bridged. While bridging marketing scholarship and practice, Hunt’s (2002) knowledge diffusion concept will be adapted between marketing practice and other three dimensions of marketing scholarship (discovery, integration, and teaching). This study advocates that marketing scholarship and practice can be bridged with following diffusions;

  • Diffusion between marketing practice and discovery (D1)
  • Diffusion between marketing practice and teaching (D2)
  • Diffusion between marketing practice and integration (D3)

Diffusions are illustrated in the following figure 3.

marketing scholarship and practice

Figure 3: Diffusions between Marketing Practice and Scholarship

Each of the diffusion will be explained in the following part of the study.

D1 = Diffusion between Marketing Practice and Discovery

As Boyer (1990) asserted; discovery dimension located in the heart of any scholarship. For a better scholarship and for a better discovery process, marketing practice and discovery should work together. In other words, instead of leaving discovery role solely to academicians, practitioners may take role in discovery process for a better marketing profession. This might happen by constructing commissions consisting of both academicians and practitioners. These commissions might be responsible for executing all kind of researches in order to discover new findings that may contribute the evolution of marketing discipline. These commissions will contribute to extending traditional marketing research. In the literature, both Staelin’s (2005) collaborative research and Webster’s (2005) integrative research concepts advocated broadening the traditional research process.

How might be the structure of these commissions? Without any doubt, they should be led by academicians because they are the ‘scientists’ and they know well how to conduct scientific processes. As Webster (2005) told, business leaders should be listened because they can be the source of new ideas but it shouldn’t be expected from practitioners to the academicians’ job.

Who will be the participants? Since marketing is a broad discipline, commissions should be segmented according to sub-disciplines of marketing such as; retailing, consumer behavior, financial services marketing, etc… It is important that each commission should be consisting of diverse set of academicians and practitioners. This is similar to Staelin’s (2005) ideas regarding establishing centers that acts as umbrellas to diverse set of scholars to address important issues that might cut across functional lines and require collaborative research.

By diffusion between marketing practice and discovery; discovered facts will easily and more efficiently applied by marketing practice and also discovery process will acquire a practitioner’s point of view. More integrated structure between marketing practice and discovery led a better marketing scholarship, better marketing scholarship will likely increase the welfare of society.

D2 = Diffusion between Marketing Practice and Teaching

In order to achieve a better marketing scholarship, second needed diffusion is between marketing practice and teaching. In the literature, diffusion from teaching to marketing practice is being mentioned by various studies. For instance, Hunt (2002) believed that knowledge diffuses from academic journals to textbook and then students who represent the next generation of marketing practitioners. Moreover, Staelin (2005) suggested that ideas should diffuse into the classroom and these ideas should be delivered to the practicing managers.

Is this one way diffusion (from academy to marketing practice) enough? Likely not. This diffusion should be bidimensional and marketing practitioners should also participate in teaching activities in the universities. By increase in the number of business schools and MBA programs, lecturers from business world and courses from business case studies increase and thus, diffusion from marketing practice to teaching increase.

How can this bidimensional diffusion between marketing practice and teaching be enhanced? To achieve this goal; both practitioners and academicians should be encouraged to contribute each other in order integrate marketing practice and teaching. For example, as Raju (2005) suggested, doctoral students should be encouraged to enter the business world. On the other side, firms should encourage their specialists and/or managers to work in the universities as part time lecturers.

By diffusion between marketing practice and teaching; facts and ideas in the academy will be delivered to business practice to achieve better marketing practice and teaching in the academy will benefit from practitioners experiences and business case studies. More integrated structure between marketing practice and teaching led a better marketing scholarship, better marketing scholarship will likely increase the welfare of society.

D3 = Diffusion between Marketing Practice and Integration

Third needed diffusion for a better marketing scholarship takes place between marketing practice and integration. As defined before; integration is a dimension of marketing scholarship where discovered new findings can be integrated with other discovered findings in order to contribute the evolution of marketing scholarship. Definition of integration shows clearly that; evolution in marketing scholarship is possible with cumulative body of knowledge. Each research, each publication, each conference, each model, each theory contributes integration of knowledge and evolution of marketing scholarship. Connection between marketing practice and integration process is crucial both of them contribute to each other.

How might marketing practice contribute to integration process? As mentioned before, conferences might be evaluated as a vehicle which contributes to integration of knowledge. Mentzer and Schumann (2006) suggested a way to incorporate marketing practitioners in integration process; they claimed that marketing practitioners should be encouraged to present at academic conferences, and marketing academics should be encouraged to attend practitioner conferences. Moreover, Mentzer and Schumann (2006) mentioned about theme forums which can create interaction between marketing academics and practitioners. They defined theme forum as ‘is a learning environment that focuses on a specific theme (e.g., services marketing, customer relationship management, supply chain management, retailing) and brings together a set of interested corporate executives/managers and a set of interested academics’.

How might integration process contribute to marketing practice? As mentioned before, publications might be evaluated as a vehicle which contributes to integration of knowledge. Publications, which are a part of integration process, might contribute to marketing practice by providing applicable models and ideas. Regarding this issue, Raju (2005) asserted that; instead of focusing solely on pleasing economists or mathematicians, or being grateful when their work is published in Journal of Applied Mathematics, marketing academicians should be equally proud when they study problems that matter to practitioners and provide solutions that they can implement.

By diffusion between marketing practice and integration; vehicles in integration process provide solutions to marketing practice and participation of marketing practice in integration process provides contribution to evolution of marketing scholarship. More integrated structure between marketing practice and integration led a better marketing scholarship, better marketing scholarship will likely increase the welfare of society.

Supporting Policies

In the previous part of the study three diffusions were presented to achieve a better marketing scholarship which will likely increase the welfare of society. In this section some supporting policies regarding these diffusions will be presented;

  • There should be necessity for practitioners and academicians to take part in the commissions that were mentioned in diffusion 1. It would be like public service since the outputs of these commissions are believed to benefit the whole society.
  • Both practitioners and academicians should be awarded from their contribution to each other’s field. For instance, careers of practitioners should be affected positively in accordance with their contribution to teaching, integration and discovery activities. At the same time, academicians should also be awarded from their contribution to marketing practice. For example, as a result of their efforts in the commissions, academicians might gain academic points like they gain as a result of academic publications. Mentzer and Schumann (2006) believed that scholars pursuing a true model of marketing scholarship need to be more highly supported and rewarded. In order to pursue a true model of marketing scholarship, a scholar should take active role also in all the dimensions of marketing scholarship. Since one of these dimensions is marketing practice, scholars who contribute to marketing scholarship should be supported and awarded.
  • Valuation of firms should be effected from their contribution to marketing scholarship. At the same time ranking and reputation of the universities should be affected from their contribution to marketing practice.
  • There should be necessity for firms to employ doctoral students and academicians, and also there should be necessity for universities to have practitioner lecturers.

 

  • CONCLUSION

Scholarship seeks for knowledge and truth, it is shared within society and it is for improving societal conditions. Seeking knowledge which is the major role of scholarship is a dynamic process and in this process each of the interconnected dimensions (discovery, integration, application and teaching as asserted by Boyer (1990)) has its unique contribution to enhance the body of knowledge, share it with society and improve societal conditions.

Marketing scholarship has been a borrowing discipline from other disciplines and it has been evolving until present. In its evolution, debates regarding the value of the knowledge generated by marketing scholars appeared in the literature. Most of the studies regarding marketing scholarship dealt with relation between marketing practice and marketing scholarship. Most of these studies mentioned about a ‘gap’ between marketing scholarship and practice.

In this study, marketing scholarship, its dimensions and its relation with marketing practice is analyzed. While analyzing these subjects, a conceptual model that incorporates Boyer’s (1990) dimensions of scholarship and Hunt’s (2002) knowledge diffusion concept is presented in order to bridge marketing scholarship and marketing practice. Relationship between marketing scholarship and practice is examined through analyzing relationship between marketing practice and other three dimensions of marketing scholarship (discovery, integration, and teaching).

In order to bridge marketing scholarship and practice, Hunt’s (2002) knowledge diffusion concept is adapted between marketing practice and other three dimensions of marketing scholarship (discovery, integration, and teaching). Study advocates that marketing scholarship and practice can be bridged with three diffusions; diffusion between marketing practice and discovery, diffusion between marketing practice and teaching, and diffusion between marketing practice and integration.

Diffusion between marketing practice and discovery can be achieved by constructing commissions consisting of both academicians and practitioners. These commissions should be led by academicians, they should be segmented according to sub-disciplines of marketing and they should be consisting of diverse set of academicians and practitioners. Diffusion between marketing practice and teaching can be achieved by constructing bidimensional relation between marketing practitioners and academicians. This can be possible when marketing knowledge diffuses from academicians through marketing practitioners (by teaching in the classroom), and at the same time, when marketing practitioners participate in teaching activities in the universities. Diffusion between marketing practice and integration can be achieved by using vehicles of such as conferences and academic publications.

In order to support these diffusion processes some policies are needed. Firstly, there should be necessities for practitioners and academicians to take part in the commissions. Secondly, both practitioners and academicians should be awarded from their contribution to each other’s field. Thirdly, valuation of firms and reputation of the universities should be effected from their contribution to each other. Lastly, there should be necessities for firms to employ academicians, and for universities to have practitioner lecturers.

It is believed that bridging marketing scholarship and marketing practice will contribute to the evolution of marketing scholarship. Since ultimate client of marketing should be the society, evolution of marketing scholarship will likely increase welfare of the society. This study suggests that bridging marketing scholarship and marketing practice should be via diffusion between marketing practice and other three dimensions of marketing scholarship which are discovery, integration, and teaching.

  • SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDIES

Conceptual model presented in the study might be supported by further empirical studies. These studies might employ case studies which can be constructed from past examples of projects conducted together by marketing academy and business. Impact of these partner projects that are subject to integration of marketing academy and practice might be measured and results can be evaluated in order to determine the success or failure of these collaborative works. In addition to these case studies qualitative methods such as in depth interviews and focus groups might be conducted to marketing academicians and practitioners in order to detect perceptions of marketing academy and business world regarding bridging marketing scholarship and practice.

Author: Z. Eren Kocyigit – 25.01.2012 

 

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