marketing as science

marketing as science - The Marketing Review 2001 2 89-119...

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The Marketing Review , 2001, 2 , 89-119 ISSN 1472-1384/2001/020089 + 30 £4.00/0 ©Westburn Publishers Ltd. MARKETING CLASSICS MARKETING CLASSICS 1 Stephen Brown Stephen Brown 2 University of Ulster Art or Science? Fifty Years of Marketing Debate Art or Science? Fifty Years of Marketing Debate Art or Science? Fifty Years of Marketing Debate Fifty years after Converse’s (1945) classic statement on the “art or science of marketing”, the debate has come full circle. The holy grail of Science has not been attained and its pursuit has not only served to alienate practitioners from academics, but it has also done enormous damage to our discipline. This paper traces the development of the great debate, discusses the damaging postmodern critique of western Science and concludes that, as an Art, marketing should be judged by appropriately aesthetic criteria. Technique is the servant not the master, A beginning not an end, A challenge that needs creative imagination for fulfilment, A form with the potential for an art. Fashioning dreams before they are dreamt, Needs before they are articulated, and creating effective demand from confusion. Art is the master not the servant. (Stevens 1995). Introduction Fifty years ago, a momentous event occurred in the history of marketing research. Like many momentous events, the momentousness of the publication The Development of the Science of Marketing was not immediately apparent. On the surface, indeed, Paul D. Converse’s (1945) much-cited paper comprised little more than the results of a routine 1 This article was first published in the Journal of Marketing Management , Volume 12, 1996, pp.243-267 2 The “marketing scientists” among the JMM readership will doubtless derive great pleasure from the fact that the author patently cannot count! I fully appreciate that this year [1996] is not the 50th anniversary of the great “art or science” debate — but, believe me, it was when the paper was written. Correspondence to be addressed to: School of Management, University of Ulster, Jordanstown, Co. Antrim, BT37 0QB, Tel: 028 9036 6130, Fax: 028 9036 6868, E-Mail: [email protected]
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90 Stephen Brown questionnaire survey of 64 marketing researchers and, despite the imprimatur of the foremost academic journal, could quite easily have been dismissed as one among many worthy but dull contributions. However, by pressing the then fashionable term “science” into titular service and incorporating a couple of throw-away remarks concerning “the art or science of marketing”, Converse struck the spark that ignited one of the most prolonged, profound, provocative, polemical and downright pyromaniacal debates in the entire post-war period. Half a century on from Converse’s classic contribution, it may be worthwhile endeavouring to stare into the embers of the once-mighty “art versus science” conflagration. Such an
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marketing as science - The Marketing Review 2001 2 89-119...

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