Unfit for practical purpose: critically examining the claims to validity of marketing management discourse

Ardley, Barry (2009) Unfit for practical purpose: critically examining the claims to validity of marketing management discourse. In: European Academy of Management Annual Conference, 15-17 September 2009, Brighton Business School.

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Abstract

This paper critically evaluates the dominant discourse of academic marketing management which is held to be capable of structuring practice. In addressing this issue and the concerns of the marketing as practice track, this paper draws on critical theory, discourse analysis, and social constructionism. The latter involved carrying out two groups of in depth interviews with marketing managers. The latter’s practice talk is taken as the object of inquiry. As theoretical structures facilitating investigation, the Habermasian notion of validity claims and the critical framework of Minger’s (2000) are utilised, in order to discover what marketers say they do, as opposed to what the dominant discourse says they should do. Minger’s identifies four different features of a critical approach. In terms of a critique of rhetoric, findings demonstrate that normative marketing is based on a poorly reasoned argument about the nature of managerial action, where little or no reference is made to the mental models that people in organisations work within. Secondly, a critique of the tradition of marketing management demonstrates that the boundaries of the right approach have been set by a powerful group who use the dominant discourse in a fashion that furthers their own ends. Thirdly, a critique of authority illustrates that the dominant discourse is seen as the one way to conceptualise marketing, whereas practitioners actually exhibit a range of alternative perspectives. Finally, a critique of objectivity shows that marketing management is not a pre-programmed, transferable technology, but is largely constituted by human agency. As a result of these findings, this paper contends that the dominant academic marketing orthodoxy does not meet the Habermasian claim to validity and is unfit for practical purpose. It is additionally argued that the orthodoxy is damaging, as it contributes to an impoverished understanding of marketing management practice.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:This paper critically evaluates the dominant discourse of academic marketing management which is held to be capable of structuring practice. In addressing this issue and the concerns of the marketing as practice track, this paper draws on critical theory, discourse analysis, and social constructionism. The latter involved carrying out two groups of in depth interviews with marketing managers. The latter’s practice talk is taken as the object of inquiry. As theoretical structures facilitating investigation, the Habermasian notion of validity claims and the critical framework of Minger’s (2000) are utilised, in order to discover what marketers say they do, as opposed to what the dominant discourse says they should do. Minger’s identifies four different features of a critical approach. In terms of a critique of rhetoric, findings demonstrate that normative marketing is based on a poorly reasoned argument about the nature of managerial action, where little or no reference is made to the mental models that people in organisations work within. Secondly, a critique of the tradition of marketing management demonstrates that the boundaries of the right approach have been set by a powerful group who use the dominant discourse in a fashion that furthers their own ends. Thirdly, a critique of authority illustrates that the dominant discourse is seen as the one way to conceptualise marketing, whereas practitioners actually exhibit a range of alternative perspectives. Finally, a critique of objectivity shows that marketing management is not a pre-programmed, transferable technology, but is largely constituted by human agency. As a result of these findings, this paper contends that the dominant academic marketing orthodoxy does not meet the Habermasian claim to validity and is unfit for practical purpose. It is additionally argued that the orthodoxy is damaging, as it contributes to an impoverished understanding of marketing management practice.
Keywords:Validity, Practice, Criticism, Social construction
Subjects:N Business and Administrative studies > N200 Management studies
Divisions:College of Social Science > Lincoln Business School
ID Code:4592
Deposited By: Barry Ardley
Deposited On:01 Aug 2011 20:09
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:01

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