The Forensic Marketing Case Study Methods

Article excerpt

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Introduction

The term "forensic" is effectively a synonym for "legal" or "related to courts" and in Latin means "before the forum." The term has practically become synonymous with the field of forensic science and, historically, has been associated with such fictional characters as Sherlock Holmes, Dick Tracy, Perry Mason, and the most recent CSI programs to produce what is known as the "CSI effect" in criminal investigations. The "CSI effect" may be described as the expectation that forensic science and evidence will be available and readily applied in all legal and criminal investigations. Natural science forensic fields have expanded in response to these expectations to include most commonly forensic odontology (the study of dental bite and teeth patterns), forensic toxicology (the drug and poison effects on the human body), forensic entomology (the study of insects and human remains), forensic psychiatry (the legal aspects of human behavior), and forensic engineering (the study of device and structural failure).

Business, as a social science, has already responded to forensic expectations and joined the forensic field to include forensic accounting (the study and interpretation of accounting evidence) and forensic economics (the study and interpretation of economic damage evidence). Common to both natural and social sciences, forensics is the application of the scientific method relative to objective empirical observation and evidence gathering, hypothesis testing via data analysis, and testimonial recommendations and conclusions. The case study method is tied to the field of forensics as a commonly accepted application of the scientific method in the social sciences. As a matter of application, the question of how the information should be gathered and organized remains. This paper introduces the Forensic Marketing Case Study Method as a proposed structure for forensic case investigation dealing with marketing issues. It integrates case study methods and the information gathering tool of the marketing audit.

The paper's major sections include a business forensics review, marketing law review, review of case study methods and their relationship to the Forensic Case Study Method, a review of the marketing audit, and conclusions and recommendations.

Business Forensics Review

The field of forensic accounting appears to be well developed, professional, and institutionalized within the various accounting professional organizations. According to a memo issued by the Forensic and Litigation Services Committee of the AICPA (2004), forensic accountants have emerged as "vital allies in the fight against fraud." Forensic accounting has two major components: litigation services recognizing the role of the CPA as an expert, and investigative services using the CPA's skills that may or may not lead to courtroom testimony. In particular, the AICPA memo defined forensic accounting to include "the application of special skills in accounting, auditing, finance, quantitative methods, certain areas of the law, and research and investigative skills to collect, analyze and evaluate evidential matter and to interpret and communicate findings." A recent article in Canadian Business (2006) presents steps for forensic accountants to take in examining financial statements to include revenue verification, questioning lesser expenses, looking for debt, remembering that cash is important, counting stock options, and examining the condition of pension plans.

Grippo and Ibex (2003) identify forensic accounting as an emerging science that differs from traditional auditing in that it "deals with the application of accounting facts gathered through auditing methods and procedures to legal problems usually dealing with financial and valuation issues." Forensic accounting is further identified as a usually expensive investigation of an allegation with the evidence expected to be presented in a judicial forum and the further expectation of a positive cost-benefit relationship. …