Our research offers important implications for the marketing field:
- Our documentation of the temporal development of marketing scholarship over the past 32 years indicates that the field does not suffer from an overall lack of theorizing efforts. Instead, our analysis suggests that the field has shifted toward certain types of contributions and that this shift has influenced the general development of marketing knowledge.
- Our findings reveal that the tendency to focus on some types of contributions over others affects citation impact. Those articles that typically spark the most citations are the ones that have experienced the steepest decline, suggesting that marketing scholars may be missing an opportunity to achieve higher impact with their work.
- Our research suggests that marketing research’s current challenges can only be solved through a joint effort that includes marketing scholars, practitioners, consumer activists, and policy makers involved in marketing. The better we get at rebalancing knowledge creation and emphasizing “big-picture” frameworks and critical debate, the more valuable the results of marketing research will be.
- We encourage practitioners, consumer activists, and policy makers to keep an open mind toward collaborating with universities and other research institutes. Of particular value would be collaborations that span a longer period of time and therefore allow the people involved to engage in an in-depth exchange of ideas. While such collaborations will require investments on both sides, the payoff will be worth it—both in monetary and nonmonetary terms.
Our team conducted computer-aided text analyses of published research articles from the four major marketing journals (Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, and Marketing Science) to trace the development of different types of knowledge contributions. We find that marketing researchers have focused more and more on identifying new phenomena and explaining relatively well-defined problems. At the same time, there has been less focus on building “big-picture” frameworks and theories and launching critical debates. As a result, marketing academia may find it challenging to provide answers to complex, practical marketing problems.
Daniel Wentzel is Professor, RWTH Aachen University, Germany.
David Antons is Professor, RWTH Aachen University, Germany.