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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Welcome to our 24th volume, for 2006.
We start this first issue with a Viewpoint contributed by a prolific author of textbooks covering marketing management from several perspectives. He was one of the first two full professors of marketing in the UK, and founding Head of its largest Department of Marketing, as long ago as 1971. Michael J Baker, now a retired Emeritus Professor there, is for many cohorts of students and colleagues quite simply Mister Marketing. That is not to say that he was celebrated only locally. A product of the Harvard Business School, he quickly built up the largest centre of marketing education in Europe, and laid the foundations for a lasting reputation that would see him in demand around the world as visiting professor, distinguished guest speaker and roving ambassador for marketing as a subject worthy of academic study.
In “The lessons of history”, he argues that we marketing academics are failing to take the long view backwards, rather than forwards, and thereby denying ourselves the benefits of lessons from the gurus and past masters of previous decades.
Debating the value of the UK's formal Research Assessment Exercise, he speaks of “universities emphasising research and scholarship”. Well, yes; the older ones do. But in the very large number of new universities created here in very recent times, as a result of the UK government's declared policy that some 40 percent of post-secondary students should go on to tertiary education, career-directed syllabuses and sheer numbers dictate that research simply cannot compete for time with teaching and administration. Meanwhile, the traditional universities set the PhD as the entry qualification for the youngest lecturers, and so remove themselves further and further from first-hand knowledge of that management environment that business schools were set up to service. Michael Baker himself served his time in the steel industry, and the entire staff of his Department in the early days had relevant experience to bring to bear on their teaching. Today, precious few of them do.
His Viewpoint also remarks on the “lead times of up to four years” in the leading US-based journals that career-minded marketing academics everywhere must strive to be published in. The curious side effect of this is that research findings will be six years or more out of date before they are read. Given the speed at which the world moves these days, that means they will be of little use to anyone except fellow “scholars” in their ivory towers.
The interesting observation of the cult of “recency” in academic literature reviews suggests another unintended side effect. The exponential increase in the number of sources and items available not only results in the historical perspective being sacrificed but also militates against a truly synoptic view of that “recent” work.
His passing reference to Sir Isaac Newton, standing on the shoulders of giants, immediately recalled to mind the profound effect that Peter Drucker's The Age of Discontinuity (1968) and Alvin Toffler's Future Shock (1970) had on me at the time. They bear periodic re-reading, for the historical perspective they can provide.
Enough! The Viewpoint is Michael Baker's, not mine.
Neelam Kinra writes on country-of-origin effects from one of the world's two massive emerging economies, and specifically from an institution that the Times Higher Education ranked 17th in its list of the best in the world in social sciences in 2005, compiled from several sources by Quacquarelli & Symonds Research. The Indian Institute of Management, where he is now a professor after being on the visiting faculty at the University of Texas at Dallas, was not even in the top 100 the year before. It is cited, by the way, in Baker's overview.
Based on findings from a survey of 112 consumers in one major city, he reports to planners of global marketing strategies that Indians expect increasing availability to offer them the prospect of not only better quality but also lower prices: the classic but by no means normal effect of competition. This is despite their scoring high on measures of ethnocentricity, which one might expect to result in an altogether less positive mindset.
From relatively nearby Malaysia, Firdaus Abdullah describes a research study that applied three familiar measures of performance in the delivery of services in tertiary education. Responses from a 68 percent return of questionnaires by students at five institutions in the Malaysian system showed that one of those worked significantly better. As the author says, further research is indicated.
Nelson Ndubisi is also based in Malaysia, by coincidence at the campus there of Australia's Monash University, which tied for 17th place with the Indian Institute of Management in the Times list. He too is concerned with services marketing. By multiple regression analysis, he finds significant gender differences in the trust-loyalty equation among bank customers, whereas there is no moderating effect on four other dimensions of relationship marketing. His research adds to the body of knowledge in the rather neglected area of gender differences in consumption behaviour.
Inga Burgmann is a doctoral student at the University of Hull in the UK, and her research findings are the basis of a paper written with present and former faculty members there. Her content analysis of websites in the banking (Ndubisi) and higher education (Firdaus) sectors in three European Union countries found positive and negative relationships between culture, as measured by Hofstede's scales, and the particular applications of graphical user interface technology.
Mark Taylor and David England write from a School of Mathematical and Computing Science, rather than a business school or department of marketing at the Liverpool John Moores University in the UK. They too are concerned with web design, again in the context of services. Two years of participant observation in a tourism organisation investigated the factors influencing the probability of users deserting one site for another if they could not easily find what they were looking for there. They discuss the design elements that facilitate productive navigation, and conclude that ease of use and accessibility of information are the key to “repeat business”, in this context.
Best wishes for the rest of 2006 from, as it happens, Chile.