Bridging the gap: The case for expanding ethnographic techniques in the marketing research curriculum

Sage Publications
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Marketing Education, 2012, 34 (3), pp. 238 - 250
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This article challenges the content of most marketing research courses whereby students are indoctrinated into the qualitative-then-quantitative archetype commonly found in scholarly research, under the assumption that it is both sufficient and appropriate when equipping students with the necessary skills for business. By following this standard format, where discussion of qualitative research methods is usually limited to focus groups and depth interviews, academics are potentially penalizing students and their future employers by providing them with a restricted set of abilities. Are we producing a generation of future marketing managers who rather than embracing the possibilities for deep understanding will instead limit themselves to the mainstream? In the article the authors consider the value and viability of introducing ethnographic techniques into the marketing research curriculum to complement existing qualitative methods and provide four examples to demonstrate this. The authors do not negate the need for marketing courses to continue to teach students the basics of marketing research but rather challenge the idea that this archetype provides all the necessary skills. If marketing educators are to truly equip students for future roles as decision makers in business, the authors recommend that ethnography must be considered a viable alternative method of marketing research.
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