Academic journal article Contemporary Management Research

In Search of Alternative Research Methods in Marketing: Insights from Layder's Adaptive Theory Methodology

Academic journal article Contemporary Management Research

In Search of Alternative Research Methods in Marketing: Insights from Layder's Adaptive Theory Methodology

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This paper argues that Layder's adaptive theory methodology can overcome two main methodological issues affecting academic marketing research-namely, (1) paradigm dilemmas caused by the mixed methods approach and (2) apparent imbalance between agency (individual subjectivity) and structure (social structure). A review of research methods used in marketing reveals that quantitative methods continue to dominate. Marketing phenomena tend to arise in the social world through a circular process whereby individual behaviours create social structures that in turn influence individual behaviours. Both the structure and agency perspectives need to be studied in a single research project to fully understand a marketing phenomenon. Adaptive theory, as a sound alternative to positivistic research approach, can achieve a balance between agency and structure perspectives that underpin marketing phenomena.

Keywords: Academic Marketing Research Methodology, Adaptive Theory, Agency-Structure Issue

Liyanage Chamila Roshani Perera

INTRODUCTION

Almost three decades ago, the issue of overreliance on hypothetico-deductive, quantitative research methods in academic marketing research was identified; consequently, the need for alternative marketing research methods was emphasised (Deshpande, 1983; Hirschman, 1986). Although Malhotra and Peterson (2001) predicted that there would be an increased use of qualitative research methods in academic marketing research, recent research (for example, Hanson & Grimmer, 2007; Harrison & Reilly, 2011; Hewege, 2010; Neider, 2011) has revealed that quantitative research methods are still more commonly used than qualitative research methods and that there has been no significant increase in the use of qualitative research methods in academic marketing research. Although quantiative research methods are known for their rigour in terms of thoery testing and generalizing, they are not considerd versatile in capturing important contextual factors underpinning the marketing pheomena being studied (Hewege, 2010; Vermeulen, 2005). Qualitative research methods are efficient in capturing these contextual factors, yet they have been heavily criticized for the lack of generalizability (Arbnor & Bjerke, 2008; Creswell, 2008; Onwuegbuzie & Leech, 2010).

However, many marketing researchers have argued that there is a need for resolving the problem of overreliance on quantitative research methods and for moving towards the combined use of both methods in order to better understand marketing phenomena (for example, Creswell, 2008; Harrison & Reilly, 2011; Hart, 1987; Ofek, 2010; Walle, 1997). The combined use of quantitative and qualitative research methods is commonly known as mixed methods. It is expected that a mixed methods approach can overcome the drawbacks of using a single method by incorporating the relative advantages of both quantitative and qualitative methods (Harrigan, Ramsey, & Ibbotson, 2012; Harrison & Reilly, 2011; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003). Many researchers have used mix methods (Arora, 2011; Bazeley, 2004; Davis, Golicic, & Boerstler, 2011; Harrigan, et al., 2012; Koller, 2008; Parry, Kupiec-Teahan, & Rowley, 2012), and this approach has become the third methodological movement (Cameron & Miller, 2007). However, one of the main issues in mixed methods is that the combination of quantitative and qualitative methods tends to pose inconsistencies in research paradigms that underpin mixed methods research (Bazeley, 2004; Harrison & Reilly, 2011; Hewege, 2010; Hunt, 1992; Perry, Riege, & Brown, 1998; Sobh & Perry, 2006).

Marketing phenomena emanating from social context tend to be influenced by a circular process whereby individual behaviour (human agency) creates social structure, which in turn influences individual behaviour. In order to fully understand a marketing phenomenon, both structure and agency aspects need to be understood in one research project. …

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