The Effectiveness of Marketing’s “R&D” for Marketing Management: An Assessment

John G. Myers, Stephen A. Greyser, and William F. Massy, 1979, 79-105

The accompanying reprint, "The Effectiveness of Marketing's 'R&D' for Marketing Management: An Assessment," by John G. Myers (Berkeley), Stephen A. Greyser (Harvard Business School; MSI Executive Director, 1972-1980), and William F. Massy (Stanford), presents some of the highlights and recommendations of the American Marketing Association Commission on the Effectiveness of Research and Development for Marketing Management. It represents a summary of and observations on the work of the Commission, based on a review of the field of marketing over the past quarter-century. The article was written at the request of new Journal of Marketing editor Jerry Wind as the lead article for his first issue as editor.

The Marketing Science Institute cosponsored the work of the Commission, which was initiated by Bill Massy as a major activity of his term as AMA Marketing Education Division Vice-President. His AMA successor John Myers continued his commitment to the project and provided a significant contribution (via a substantial time commitment this fall and winter on his sabbatical) to the amplified report to be published later in 1979.

The Journal of Marketing article addresses five specific aims of the Commission's work.

  • To identify changes in marketing practice over the past 25 years.

  • To examine changes in marketing knowledge developed during the period.

  • To try to explain the process of knowledge-creation and diffusion in marketing.

  • To assess the contributions and failures in applying new knowledge to marketing practice.

  • To offer recommendations for improving the knowledge-generation and diffusion process and the climate for that improvement.

Managerial readers will no doubt find the sections in the article on barriers to innovation and diffusion (p. 26) and on an overall assessment and recommendations (pp. 26-29) of greatest interest. Among the major conclusions are:

  • Knowledge-generation in marketing (as in other fields) has many inherently inefficient characteristics.

  • Although there has been a vast increase in the quantity and quality of research in marketing over the past 25 years, a significant amount of such effort has had relatively little impact on improving marketing management practice over the period.

  • The contributions of research and knowledge-development during this time can be characterized at best as mixed. Some impacts have been significant, but far less than "might have been."

Both structural/organizational barriers and substantive/communications barriers impeded the processes of innovation and utilization. The barriers exist between academics and practitioners and also between staff and line people in business.

Larger-scale company commitments to information systems and a willingness to invest in staff specialists to facilitate utilization of research and knowledge-generation resources provide new opportunities for effective managerial applications.

Some twenty recommendations were developed, addressed to the business and academic communities. Five of the key recommendations are treated in the article (pp. 27-28):

  1. There should be more support for basic and for "problem-oriented" research in marketing.

  2. There is a need for more non-technical reviews of new concepts, findings, and techniques in marketing (without reducing currently available researcher-to-researcher communications channels).

  3. Senior executives in companies should be encouraged to develop organizational climates more amenable to exploring and experimenting with new research ideas and techniques.

  4. Clearinghouses should be established to facilitate making company data files available to academic and professional researchers.

  5. Marketing educators and university administrators need to foster open lines of communication with professional researchers and practicing managers, to involve academics with real-world marketing problems.

MSI is institutionally committed to collaborative research activity in marketing, bringing together the practicing and academic marketing communities. Thus the work of the Commission reported here is intended to be pertinent to those in both the professional and academic sectors of marketing.

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