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Lessons from AMA Task
Force on the Development
of Marketing Knowledge
Kent. B. Monroe
University of Illinois and University of Richmond
Mission
Steve Brown, President of AMA, appointed
the task force, late 1984 to:
Assess how marketing develops, distributes,
and utilizes marketing knowledge.
Len Berry, 1986 AMA President, strongly
supported the efforts of the task force.
AMA Task Force
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Members



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
Kent Monroe (chair)
Paul Bloom
Alden Clayton
Elizabeth Hirschman
Morris Holbrook
Linda McAleer

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

Diane Schmalensee
Alice Tybout
Barton Weitz
Albert Wildt
William Wilkie
Gerald Zaltman
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Interim Report
During 1985-1988, position papers were
drafted and submitted to AMA regularly.
 These reports contained initial
assessments and recommendations.
 A summary of these reports was published
in the Journal of Marketing, October 1988
(Roger Kerin, editor).

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Task Force Conclusion
“An important reason for the apparent low
impact of research in marketing is the
haphazard and often inconsequential effort
to develop marketing knowledge.”
“We must find, elevate, and proclaim
whatever is noble, worthwhile, and
profound in the development of marketing
[knowledge].”
Task force report, Journal of Marketing, October 1988, pp. 24,17.
AMA Task Force
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Impediments to Knowledge
Development
Insufficient efforts to systematically
develop marketing knowledge
 Journal review and decision system
 Competing demands on academicresearcher’s time increase over careers
 Lack of receptivity for innovative ideas
 Low participation by practitioners

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Task Force Prescription
“Attention must be given to the process
of knowledge development, the
operation of the system for producing
it, and the key roles that individuals
can and should play.”
Task force report, Journal of Marketing, October 1988, p. 5.
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Goals of Science
1.
Accumulate knowledge
How do we develop cumulative knowledge?
2.
Develop (construct) theories
How do we develop theories?
3.
Establish relations among phenomena
In marketing which goal has priority?
Which goal should have priority?
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How Can We
1.
2.
3.
Advance knowledge accrual in marketing?
Improve the conceptual/theoretical foundations
of marketing?
Improve the empirical validation of
a.
b.
4.
What we know?
The theoretical explanations about phenomena
within marketing?
Determine what we do not know?
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How Do We Develop
Accumulative Knowledge?



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Establish consistency of results
Determine sources of variation across
studies
Establish boundaries of knowledge
Validate theories
Encourage informative, integrative
literature reviews
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Knowledge Accrual

Knowledge accrual requires
convergence of findings derived from
divergent methods.

Use methods that complement rather than
reproduce the weaknesses and strengths
of previous research efforts.
 Effective triangulation requires distance
between observations.
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Knowledge Accrual



Convergent or construct validity requires
diversity of methods.
We should encourage a diversity of
methods applied to any research
domain, by someone.
Robustness or generalizability requires
diversity of populations, occasions,
settings, and methods.
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Knowledge Accrual



Each researcher, to a degree, should
appreciate the value of all methods.
It is not expected that any one
researcher be an omni-method expert.
However, we must demand it of the
discipline as a collective.
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We Need to Accept Multiple
Approaches and Methods
(McGrath and Brinberg, (Journal of Consumer Research, June 1983):
Theory + Method  Substantive results
2. Substantive + Method  Theory
3. Substantive + Theory  Empirical results
A substantial majority of published research
follows #1 (“theory-testing research”)
Published discovery-oriented research is rare
1.
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Ways to Enhance Discoveryoriented Research
Allow for accidents and unexpected
observations to occur
 Determine reasons for variability or error
 Ease the focus on precision
 Get out in the field (observe, listen)
 Tinker around: let the “data” speak

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Questions of Empirical
Research

Is there an effect? (Conclusion validity)
 If
so, can we detect it?
 Have correct statistical analyses been used?
Are there rival, plausible hypotheses?
(Internal validity)
 Can we generalize back to theory?
(Construct validity)
 Can we generalize to and across … ?
(External validity)

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The Problem of n = 1


Is the priority of searching for new knowledge
defeating the goal of building a “store” of
knowledge?
There is a need for



Replication (Can results be reproduced?)
Robustness (Do results hold across concepts,
methods, substantive areas?)
Boundary conditions (When are results not
supported?)
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Replications

Replications are



complementary to diversity, generalizability,
robustness;
necessary to reduce the small sample bias of
our research.
A replicated result represents information
about the reliability of a finding.
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Publication Process

Are useful, innovative papers being
rejected?
 Editors
need to be decision makers, not
scorekeepers.

What should be the “fit” between the AMA
journals?
 Neither
Journal of Consumer Research nor
Marketing Science are AMA journals.
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Assessment
“The current system has led to conditions
under which significant contributions to
knowledge is not at the forefront of most
participants’ thoughts as they engage in
the research and publication process.”
Task force report, Journal of Marketing, October 1988, p. 6.
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Publication Process
Lack of conceptually-oriented articles
 Empirical bias in marketing
 Lack of review articles
 Abuse and misuse of hypothesis testing
 Publication requirements for academics
 Multiple small studies per article
 Reference citation requirements

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The Fallacy of Statistical
Significance
Are empirical effects only significant if the
statistical test of the null hypothesis
achieves a probability level of .05?
 Is this an appropriate or even the only
criterion for accepting new knowledge?

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Doctoral Programs
“Effective development and dissemination of
marketing knowledge … depend on a set of
well-trained individuals capable of and
interested in doing research in marketing…. All
doctoral programs should [be] training
candidates to have mastery in conceptualizing,
methodology, application, and communication.”
Task force report, Journal of Marketing, October 1988, pp. 11,12.
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Objectives of Doctoral
Programs
Develop conceptualization skills (ability
to think abstractly).
2. Acquire substantive knowledge and
develop the ability to apply knowledge.
Emphasize developing and appreciating
ideas and integrating knowledge rather
than finding flaws in existing research.
1.
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Objectives of Doctoral
Programs
3.
4.
Develop operationalizing skills and
research methods knowledge.
Develop communication skills (written
and oral):

Presentations.
 Research papers.
 Teaching.
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Conclusion



Make knowledge accrual a priority rather than
an after thought.
Seek heterogeneity in terms of the approach,
research method, and design characteristics
Encourage maximally different methods,
settings, respondents to enhance the validity of
the new knowledge discovered.
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