Seeking Broader Impact for Academic Research

Do consumer researchers handicap themselves by limiting themselves to narrow topics?
Seeking Broader Impact for Academic Research

WHY DOES MOST academic consumer research have such a narrow impact? Eight scholars argue that consumer researchers handicap themselves by adhering to implicit boundaries or defaults about what they study, why they study it, and how they communicate their findings. This limits the research they produce and the audiences they reach.

The study’s authors are Deborah MacInnis of USC Marshall at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles; Vicki Morwitz of Columbia Business School in New York City; Simona Botti at London Business School in the U.K.; Donna Hoffman of the George Washington University School of Business in Washington, D.C.; Robert Kozinets of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism; Donald Lehmann of Columbia Business School; John Lynch Jr. of the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder; and Cornelia Pechmann of the Merage School of Business at the University of California Irvine.

The authors note that while consumer researchers cite scholars in other fields, those scholars rarely cite work by consumer researchers. Also, most practitioners rely on the work of popular business writers rather than academics. As a result, the work that consumer researchers generate has little impact beyond other academics.

The authors suggest that consumer research scholars stop looking at other academic articles as inspirations for their own work. Instead, the authors urge these scholars to look outward toward real-world examples and explore them in ways that have not yet been attempted by practitioners and other academics. Such efforts will make their research more relevant to scholars in other fields, as well as practitioners, governmental agencies, and NGOs.

“Creating Boundary- Breaking Marketing- Relevant Consumer Research” appeared in the March 2020 issue of the Journal of Marketing.