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Managers’ beliefs about marketing research and information use in decisions in context of the bounded-rationality theory

Piotr Tarka (Department of Market Research, Faculty of Management, Poznan University of Economics and Business, Poznan, Poland)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 19 June 2017




The purpose of this paper is to diagnose two types of causal relationships from the perspective of the structural equations model. First, the relationship is analysed between managers’ beliefs regarding the use of marketing information in making decisions and the rational premises of decision validity. Next, the rational premises of decision validity are considered in reference to managers’ abilities to select appropriate information from marketing research reports. Taking into account all of the above premises, the author in the empirical research conducted here introduced the following two research hypotheses which state that: H1: the high level of managers’ beliefs about the usefulness of information from marketing research does not yet positively influence their way of reasoning and making decisions in the light of the bounded-rationality theory. H2: managers who do not use the bounded-rationality criteria of decision assessment, lack of the analytical approach in solving decision problems, also reflect the inability of selecting proper information from a marketing research report.


In the conducted empirical research, that is, in the process of gathering the information, the internet questionnaire survey was used, which included the author’s own version of items measuring respective latent variables. Next, to the chosen group of the respondents (invited to the survey through the two social networking sites: LinkedIn and Golden Line), a direct link to the questionnaire was sent via personal e-mails. The method of providing answers to the questions in the online survey included indicating by the respondents the answers on a seven-point Likert scale for the statements which were expressed in agree/disagree format. The whole empirical research was conducted between March 1 and August 31 in 2014, and the process of choosing the appropriate respondents to the sample was conducted with the use of the two techniques: judgemental sampling and snowball sampling. The final size of sample equalled n=213 and its structure included the individuals in companies, who have borne the responsibility mainly for the organisation and planning of strategic and tactic marketing activities. In short, the sample structure consisted of the respondents responsible for decision-making processes and included: marketing directors (45 per cent), product managers (27 per cent), managing directors and chief executive officers (20 per cent), as well as marketing executives (8 per cent).


On the basis of findings and the obtained empirical results it is argued that decision makers in companies, despite their strong declarations regarding the use of marketing information, in reality prefer to act in a non-analytical way when making choices. Managers, when faced with difficulties in information processing, adopt simple solutions in solving decision problems which are much closer to the irrational sphere of making choices. Thus the full potential of information that is available to them from marketing research is not even considered. This irrational behaviour in decisions as well as the lack of analytical thinking result in further consequences pertaining to the way that information is selected.

Practical implications

In spite of all theoretical arguments supporting the bounded-rational theory of making choices, the irrationality or, simply, the non-analytical thinking in decision-making processes in organisations takes place. The inability to use effectively information by managers in companies and failure to scrutinise their own processes of decision making on the basis of logic and reasoning is admittedly the Achille’s heel of many information users. Using information from marketing research in decisions, as well as undertaking the sequence of steps to ensure the valid decision-making process, seems to be a huge problem for managers. Taking into account, the empirical research findings, one can argue now that in spite of the managers’ conviction about the usefulness of the information from marketing research, that is, despite their declarations pertaining to use of information in decision-making processes, such information is in practice often ignored and not taken into account.


In the paper the author explains why, as is supported by empirical evidence, managers in companies decide to conceal their real beliefs concerning the usefulness of marketing information. Taking this into consideration, the indirect question of the empirical research conducted here is whether managers ever seriously consider marketing research results when making decisions?



The author would like to thank all the people from the management and board of Millward Brown, TNS Global, GFK research agencies for their valuable comments of an early draft of this paper.


Tarka, P. (2017), "Managers’ beliefs about marketing research and information use in decisions in context of the bounded-rationality theory", Management Decision, Vol. 55 No. 5, pp. 987-1005.



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