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Physics envy

Alan Tapp (Department of Marketing, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 15 May 2007




This paper seeks to identify and discuss a phenomenon with a hidden but severe impact on the conduct of research and teaching in marketing.


Solicited as a viewpoint contribution, with permission to think aloud.


Physics, as the archetypal “proper” science, has exerted an undue and malign influence within universities on perceptions of scholarliness in “soft” sciences such as marketing, and hence on the applicability of its research and teaching. But the anti‐science commentators may protest too much; the key question is how science is applied. Physics envy could therefore have a positive outcome, if debate is encouraged.

Practical implications

There are obvious implications for the structure of research and teaching in university departments and sub‐departments of marketing, in the UK and elsewhere.


A polemic, but one with a balanced conclusion.



Tapp, A. (2007), "Physics envy", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 229-231.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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